I’m not sure that I’m really living the life[style] that I want, but I sure am good at imagining and talking about it.
Life is a study in interrelatedness, right? Full of moments when you run into your high school friend at the dive bar you never frequented even though it was by your house but when you get there he’s on a date with a girl you introduced him to when you and your friends gathered up for an elections-results party at a bar, and you just know the girl from one shift in food service but you ran into each other at a dance party at 1 AM on a Saturday and traded numbers because you were looking for a roommate and maybe she knew someone and then you reconnected and now here you are, a couple years later, all together again. That kind of stuff, on so many levels.
Social overlaps are one tangled ball of twine; another is how the habits you hold in one part of your life influence the way you conduct another. One of many reasons that I picked up a second job was rooted in my ever-growing list of small projects, and the fact that I wasn’t following through on working on any of them. I was afraid of a significant amount of time passing with nothing to show for it. The income and skills from job two would be the worst case scenario back-up plan. I was sure of guaranteeing myself momentum; this added responsibility would turn my other gears, too. It’s been ten months since I had that thought, nine since things came together with job #2, and I’ve barely worked on any of my projects. I imagined being busy as an inertia that sweeps up everything in your life–nothing escapes! It’s more like climbing a wall back-to-back: great, but one person moving guarantees nothing.
If I find the quote, I’ll insert it here, but around the time I was job 2-planning, I saw something online that encouraged people to ‘be a star’ by reflecting light. Maybe it was Henry Miller–who is great!–but this quote bothered. My astronomy class was discussing star birth, and they don’t become stars just because they choose to be reflective and beautiful, like the quote implied, but because there’s a bunch of dust floating around and eventually enough dust is in the same place for it to pull together then add pressure then boom -!- star. (More than any hard facts, the main takeaway from that class was, “wow, existentialism and science really go hand in hand.”) So I thought to myself, “I’m not doing enough. There’s not enough dust. There isn’t enough pressure on my time to force me to come out the other side shining. I’ve gotta add work.” This is the problem with overextending metaphors.
Often, when I think about that amorphous thing that is “the life I want,” I get a feeling, and it’s young and sort of silly: freewheeling, healthy, awake, laughing, accomplished. I rarely imagine the process of achieving those things, which is, of course, the important part. Maybe, maybe there is an image of myself, but the headshot version: proud stance, cared-for appearance, good lighting. There’s a contented, post-bubbly feeling to it. This must mean that advertising has really gotten to me: all image, no substance. “Down with fluff,” as I once said, referring to something entirely separate from this. Down, also, with the idea that you can just work hard generally and get where you want without tailoring your focus. Hard work is hard work, but hard work at one job doesn’t transfer to ground covered on a project you’ve dedicated almost nothing to. It’s obvious, I know. Thank you, I’m a savant. Time just passes so quickly, and before you know it, six months or a year or five years are gone and the only things you managed to get better at were the tasks you kept at hand on a small, manageable basis, things you made into goals for your week. (With all this work ethic business I feel like a Puritan. Fine, but add 10x the amount of vacation time and nix all the church-going.)
The second job brought me some things I wanted and thought it would, even if it didn’t make me work harder during my free time. At least for this past year I haven’t felt like I wasted it. And despite the perspective, I can’t quit yet: they’re starting an a capella group! And I kind of like it. What can I say?