Saturday, May 28, 2016

How May I Direct Your Call(ing)?

My career could have used a switchboard operator long before now. Heck, maybe it had one and I am such a stubborn cuss that I refused to listen, insisting that she was giving me the wrong number and I already had the right one. Here I am now, well over fifty years old, and just beginning to achieve some clarity.


I grew up as an only child, believing I was destined to become an entomologist, or at least a naturalist. I went to college with that ambition, but by the end of my third year I was beginning to have my doubts. My fourth year I switched majors to "resource recreation management" (I swear that is what they called it), but then I ran out of both ambition and money. I do remember being disillusioned. I had taken up jogging, and one evening at the literal end of the road I gazed over at Mt. Hood in the setting sun and said out loud "How can you reduce that to a soil profile?" The abstraction called for by science was blasphemous to me.

Still, I pursued entomology, and even got some good jobs and great experiences out of it. They did not last, though, in part because I felt that others considered me a walking encyclopedia of insect knowledge and nothing more. Issues stemming from my parents' divorce when I was around eleven had been left largely unresolved, and I did not function well socially nor work (play) well with others. My identity was entomology and I did not know how to assert the fact that I have other facets to my person. I still have that trouble in many ways, making me prone to withdrawal in an effort to punish others for not seeing me as a whole person.

A few years ago I lost an online job that I know I would have been perfect for. The employer even said as much, but chose someone else because I had been volunteering as an entomology expert for the company that they saw as their chief competition. They did not bother asking if I would quit the volunteer gig....nothing. They didn't even call me to say they had selected someone else. I had to find out by e-mailing them. I was so incensed that I slammed my fist on my glass-topped desk and cut myself on its edge.

That was the big sign I should have heeded. I should have stopped pursuing all jobs "bugs" right then. Instead, I continued dialing wrong career numbers.

I thought this spring, with its ridiculously cold, wet weather was finally going to send me over the edge into insanity because I couldn't even find insects as a recreational pursuit, let alone to write about in my other blog. What I found was that I started writing more about other topics on this blog. Amazingly, I am enjoying it. I always have, but I never thought I had enough talent or experience or, mostly, knowledge of other subjects, to pull it off. I am beginning to think otherwise.

Just the other day I put up the following as a Facebook status:

"I am a writer, artist, social critic, husband, and sometimes activist. So, another gentle reminder that if you want the "bug guy," he is over at "Bug Eric" [another Facebook page]. If you want an entire human being, then please stay right here. Thank you. We now return you to your own identity crisis (or clarity)."

One respondent commented that he sensed I was trying to separate my identities on Facebook, and that he had tried that once without much success. "Good luck with that," he said. Well, he is right in one sense, but my motivations go far beyond social media. That post was mostly a self-affirmation, reminding myself that I am more than a career, deeper in character than most people realize, and that I should be proud of all that I am beyond entomology.

Would I trade all my previous successes and failures, hang-ups and busy signals? Of course not. What do I say about this blog? "Timing, on the other hand, is everything." I have to accept that the timing in this case may be this way for a reason I am not yet aware of. Some friends and colleagues and acquaintances will not want to progress with me on my journey from this point forward. That is nothing I have control over. I will never be able to turn my back completely on the wild kingdom of six- and eight-legged animals, nor will I ever turn down requests from people who want my help and are genuinely grateful for it. What is different is that I now know I must take a different fork in my occupation. Most roads we choose are already "well-traveled by," as Robert Frost put it in his classic poem; but, they have not been travelled by you. That, my friends, is what makes all the difference.

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