Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tied to the Water Wheel

The road to discovering one’s soul is rugged, probably because it is less travelled. We seem to move on with our lives and wake up one morning on a birthday perhaps and think “OMG! I got one year to do everything I wanted to do before I hit 25!” or it could be “I’m forty, too late!” I did the first one on my 24th birthday but I definitely do NOT want to do the second. I’m pretty sure (since most of the people I know are under 40 so you, dear reader, are probably under 40 too) you do not want the second either.

Let’s take it from the top. We start out by being kids in kindergarten having our dreams fed to us. All the girls want to be doctors and all the boys want to be engineers or cops because that’s what their parents tell them they want to be. At least that’s how it was when I was a kid, I think maybe today’s kids want to be hot models and football players. Anyway, a while later, we start to develop our own dreams that are influenced by the ones that were fed to us by our parents and by our own understanding of the world. I knew a kid in my class who wanted to be president, I remember my brother mostly stuck to architect, and my own dreams were on the lines of astronaut, genetics engineer, and dentist. The last one was the closest thing to reality and I had my neighbor friend who was a dentist support me on it. We grow some more and start getting a feel for what we really like or what looks really tempting and try to go for it. Some get there, some don’t. That’s life! So we go into college knowing exactly what we want to do; become a computer engineer, become an architect, become an OBGYN. We finish college with that intense attachment to our choice because after all, we spent from 4 to 8 years working on it, we have to work in that field or else we’ve wasted the best years of our lives on something that doesn’t matter. So we go about our careers, starting from way down at the bottom, hoping to hit the jackpot through pure hard work and perseverance. We work overtime, extra, and take all the dirty work and donkey work because that’s what juniors do, some even still feel that itch to study and pursue post graduate education. After a while, we start seeing the world as it really is.

A year or two go by, we don’t meet our friends that often, we stay late, we forget the personal aspect of life. We go to work every morning, come back from work, eat, sleep, and maybe go hang out somewhere. On weekends, we do chores, go to weekend getaways, have meetings, see the family, and rest for another week. At the start of the day, we look forward to being done with the meeting, getting over the task, eating lunch, and finally going home. On Tuesdays, we look forward to Wednesday s because they’re closer to the weekend. On Wednesdays, we look forward to Thursdays and on Thursdays we look forward to the weekend. We look forward to the project ending, the quarter passing and the year ending. All of a sudden, too much time has gone by when we were just looking forward to time going by, and we did nothing mentionable with our lives, and this is taking the wife and kids out of the equation, and I’ll assume the feeling that we made the worst mistake of our lives and should go for a career shift (in some cases) is out of the equation too. That is being tied to the water wheel.

At first I didn’t understand the expression. Then I realized that we’re going about our lives blindly looking forward to the next step. We’re going around in circles, generating water for the crops and maybe making money, but at the end of the day, it’s just a circle. Pretty soon we forget our grand dreams of being the entrepreneur, the writer, the painter, the prodigy musician. We turn into consumers; make money and consume it on “stuff”. When we start considering doing something new, it’s become so far away from our comfort zones that it seems more like a dream than an activity. We remember the days when we thought anything was possible and every single day was a new challenge and we look upon them with nostalgia. Suddenly, we feel so very old and act so very old. All we care about is to keep the job and make more money, to be stable, to get through the week. We look forward to being managers because that’s what the career path chart says we should be, even if we don’t know how to deal with people or clients, even if we don’t really like monitoring, control, problem solving, and analysis. We care about taking the next blind step in the endless circle and then we die.

As for my own personal water wheel, I got a job that I want with a position that I want with the pay that I want at the time that I want it. I could not be happier, right? Wrong! I lost my dreams bit by bit until I forgot how to dream in the first place. It scared me, confused me, and eventually got me severely depressed. Here I am, 24 ( I sure hope I’m not using my age too much that someone someday will use it to calculate my real age when I don’t want it told), with no achievements in life other than work and more work! A year ago, I wanted to invent the new best thing in testing tools. Back in college, I was a possible architect, a few years before those, I was a prodigy writer. So I created a blog, freaked out about it in the beginning, barely wrote anything, and then I eased into it, and here I am writing again. Am I ready to write the next book on social sewage? No, not yet, but hold your breath maybe it’ll come soon. Will I be an architect? I started reading up on it, and I was just thinking that my hands itched to hold the T-ruler and the pencil. And maybe, I’ll get to invent the next best thing in testing tools after all. I don’t feel as uncomfortable and as scared as before, although it’s still there of course; I still got my gazillion unfinished stories to finish and publish professionally. Will I give up on following my old dreams? I used to have the limiting belief that I would because I am one of the easiest people to give up. Maybe I would after all, maybe I’m just inspired by an amazing revolution that did the impossible and I’ll deflate in a while, but I don’t feel like I’ll give up now because the feeling I have is that I’ll be that astronaut I used to wish I was and maybe my limits would be the limits of the universe, someone tell me when they discover the end of the world! Winking smile

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1 comment:

  1. this is amazing ya dina. just breathtaking and yes, we grow old without even seeing it coming. till one day age throws it in our face and as stupid as we get ny time, instead of thinking of what we wanted to be in the past, we look for what is missing on the work chart (eg being a manager, or more pay). we try to reach for it though we know that at the end it won't make us happy, it will just complete the missing pieces on that chart.
    it is gr8 you can see that now. good luck