Pulling ourselves through


The department head at the college I graduated from gave me some great unsolicited advise when I was graduating. Keep in mind that this was my 3rd try at post-secondary school as an adult, and I was at least 7 years older than the average age of my class.

"Two things," he said. "One: if you get to a job and they don't listen to you, move on. You got too much going on to be working with folks who aren't going to pay attention."

I smiled.

"Two: don't become the computer guy. You're no guy, but you know what I mean."

I graduated with a degree that is the academic equivalent of the Shitzu: pretty, pedigreed, but useless. Not so much because of the field itself (Industrial Design), but because of the mess I made of it trying to make it fit what I wanted to do.

I wanted to work with natural systems, and design waste-water treatment into the natural metabolism of a household or industrial ecosystem. My instructors encouraged my curiosities, and by the time I graduated I had a portfolio that most civil engineers would drool over without any of the clout of an engineering degree.

I was essentially unemployable in a field that wanted me to have spent more time drawing new innovative concept story boards for ergonomic toothbrushes or tennis shoes. So I spent the summer after graduation trying to convince all the dreamboat architecture and landscape architecture firms to hire me even though I was not licensable, and then I took a deep breath, tipped my hat to my department head, and proceeded to become the computer guy.

And I guess I'm realising that it all turned out okay. Actually it turned out way better than okay. It turned out way better than I would have been able to conjure at that time. If you peak around this site a little, you will see the product of the last 10 years or so of heart and dedication and pleasure and work. And now, ten years later, I am again at the precipice of something bigger - the brink of a similar unknown. After a year of being a full time employee, I am about to leave the safety of a steady salary with bennies, and go back out on my own. And this time from a different country. These being the times we live in, and this being the task on my plate, you can imagine that a big part of this just turned 40 heart just wants a hot bowl of miso and a bath.

I'm writing this because I do not think I am the only one right now who feels like what I have on my plate is unprecedented. I think many of us are finding ourselves at the brink of something big that is unfamiliar. I'm writing this thinking about myself 10 years from now, and wondering what kinds of advise I would have. Try it. Find in your minds eye the wise elder of yourself who knows everything that will soon come to pass, and hear her proud and familiar voice pulling you forward. And then imagine yourself 10 years ago, and talk that younger version of yourself through. See that you are always there for yourself, and know you are looked after.

I'm writing this to remind myself to pull myself through into the most spectacular version of myself I can conjure. Or as Rumi said, much more eloquently, "break the goblet and fall into the glassblower's breath."