Thursday, August 2, 2007

Dreaming the Dream

I've had my dream job twice now. Luckily for me, I realized both times that I loved what I was doing while I was doing it. Unluckily for me, I'm not doing either at the moment.

C'est la vie, and all that. Is this not the definition of maturity - sacrificing immediate pleasure for the greater long-term good? One day, one or both of those jobs will be mine - or perhaps another that is completely fulfilling and nourishes my soul and makes me bound out of bed in the morning, ready to face the day.

Aw heck, even when I had a job I loved I did NOT bound out of the bed. I am not a bound out of bed type of person, I am a roll out of bed last minute and try to take a shower and brush my teeth and dress without opening my eyes kind of person.

Anyway, let me tell you just a bit about the jobs I loved, because I love even thinking about them. The first was work as a naturalist at an outdoor center near Cincinnati. I taught small children classes about nature, recycling, and pioneer life; I performed in evening reenactments about the UnderGround RailRoad; I led children on canoe trips, hikes, horse rides, high ropes courses, mountain bike trail rides, camping trips. I taught kids about compost, about camping, about pioneer tools, and about sleeping out under the stars, on a tarp, no tent (LOTS of bug spray required). In summers I did big trips with them, and as I white water rafted down the Gauley River in West Virginia, I marveled that I was GETTING PAID FOR THIS. One memorable day, I had taken my kids to the camp's tallest climbing wall - about 60 feet. One by one my girls all went up to the top of the wall, tagged the flag, and rappelled down. And then, up came my little blind camper. She strapped on the gear and stepped on the first handhold, and I belayed her up and called out directions to guide her hands and feet. I was pretty certain she wouldn't go far - she couldn't see! A crowd of girls slowly gathered around me, teenaged girls, girls who tended to be nasty to one another and form cliques and be difficult as girls that age do. It started slowly, with just a "You can do it" here and a "You go!" there. By the end, the girls were screaming for this blind climber to make it. By themselves they delegated one leader to instruct the climber on where to step, while the rest of them banded together and made up cheers for her. What had taken the sighted girls 10 minutes took this girl at least 45, but she never tired, and she didn't quit, and neither did her cheerleaders. She made it to the top. I actually cried.

My second job that I loved was working in a bakery by day and acting by night. I got up at 5 in the morning - yes that's five a m - and headed into the bakery by 6:00. I was in there alone, listening to the radio and making cookies and bread and cinnamon rolls, until the owner of the bakery arrived at 9am. She and I worked together until 3, and then I left for the day and would usually take a long leisurely run through the Indiana pasture, or down by the Ohio River. I'd shower, write some poetry or letters, and then head to rehearsal by about 7 pm. We'd rehearse until late, and then I'd go home and collapse into bed. The best thing about that job?? I had worked normal hours Tues-Thurs, worked Friday from 6am to 9pm, worked two hours Saturday, and had Sunday and Monday off. Something about having Monday off was just the greatest schedule ever.

Aaaah, those were the days. Flexibility, variety, autonomy, creativity . . . it was wonderful. One day, one day, I'll have that back.

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