Sometimes it is hard for me to wrap my head around. Sometimes I whistle and hum and sing while I do it. Sometimes those ten or so dollars I earn per hour seem enough. Sometimes I want to crawl in a hole and hang my head with shame. Sometimes I look around and wonder how the hell I got here. I have a Master degree and part of my current job is mopping the floor. I have decades of professional work experience yet I am unskilled labor. Sometimes I have a hard time with that choice and sometimes I relish in my choice. Always I am on a journey and always I am learning.
I feel like I am on a teeter-totter of sorts. On the one hand, I am in this amazing area, working outside in a position that takes no skill (in my opinion) and brings minimal responsibility. I have very few expenses and a national forest outside my window. I can sit outside for hours in the breeze and the sun, smell the forest and the moisture and the trees. Well, when the bugs are not out and are not using my body as a buffet. It is definitely a mixed bag and I am still on a learning curve.
I can also say this is all my choice. I am totally and completely responsible for my situation. Ha! Me! I did this! I may sit around and succumb to critical thoughts, but those, too, are mine. My demons to slay. Mine and mine alone. I stand proud in that resolve. I stand firm in my choice and know that I can, also, change it at any time. Sure, there would be consequences and ramifications, but, again, those would be mine. MINE! I do things at work that I do not particularly like with folks that I am not particularly fond of. Sound familiar? I believe this is and has been a part of any job, no matter the pay or the setting or the type of work. To be completely and openly honest, I am still adjusting to this whole “work” thing. I choose to be here and do this, but I am still at the mercy of someone else’s schedule, priorities, tasks and direction. I live in a way that is not completely in my control and that, too, is a concession to be in this place with the things I love at my doorstep.
This part of my journey is about concession, trade-off and learning. I am earning some money, and spending nearly as much. People get to me, yet I still have my morning tea and time to write. I can hike or kayak or canoe nearly at will. I have a roommate and live in a community setting, yet I live next to a national forest with zero noise, light or air pollution. I can hear the birds and not the sirens. I can also hear the dryer buzzer and doors as they open and close. I watch the sun as it travels across the water. I mop the floor and scrub the camping gear, but as I work I have the sun on my face and the wind on my skin. I have a five minute walk to work and never, and I mean never, work in front of a computer screen. Training means I drive a boat and an ATV and ride horses and zip line. No conference rooms, no Zoom meetings and no fake presentations of myself. I am NOW in my natural environment.
The only person who can diminish these choices is me. The only voice that matters is my own. If I feel bad because of my choice, it is only because I let myself. I am, still and in the end, the only person who put me here. I am completely and totally responsible for any and all parts of my now. Anyone who looks down at me for any part of my life is not a person who is welcome into it. Any person who thinks their title or income or education gives them unearned credibility is not welcome here. Oh, and trust me, that person will know it.
I remember a time when my work, my role, my choices defined who I was. My house, car, paycheck, degree, clothes, made me who I was. I wore my titles and my roles with pride and fiercely defended them all. I no longer need titles to define who I am and what I am about. In fact, I took them all away. I left a life of titles and external confines. One time, they were stripped from me against me will. Apparently, that was not lesson enough. I learned from that experience and yet, somehow, I needed more depth to it. I needed to let those roles go on my terms and in my way. My life as a pilgrim reflects that choice.
Like most of us, I have things that I do. I work as an outfitter, but I am NOT an outfitter. I hike and kayak, but I am NOT a kayaker or hiker. What I do is part of who I am and how I love to spend my time. These things reflect what is important to me or what I enjoy. But, those things that are external to my being no longer define the very core of me. They are merely external expression of internal priorities.
Having my Master degree is merely a result of going to school and doing the work. That degree does not define me, though the experiences of education helped develop that which is me. I will do a good job and take pride in my work, because THAT is who I am. I will continue to work in this place under these circumstances because this place nurtures me and supports me. I continue to learn about myself and continue to develop the person I am and the person I strive to be. I am still a pilgrim and I am still on a journey. I am still a work in progress. Mopping the floors is just what I do, not who I am.
Cheers to the journey of discovering the deepest and most vital parts of who you are.
Cheers to YOU!