Sometimes I feel a bit like a salmon. Pushing my way upstream against all odds, getting battered and bruised, feeling exhausted and wondering when I will get to where I am going. I think that I feel as though I have to stay the course no matter how strong the current is. I get washed back downstream again and again. It takes weeks, months, even years to get back to where I was.
A little common sense may make you realize that most salmon die once they get to where they are going. Granted this is a bit extreme of an analogy, but it kind of suits my purpose. How much longer does a person keep pushing and getting battered and discouraged before they realize that maybe this is the wrong stream? Before their bodies finally give out and stress or worse takes its toll? How many waterfalls do YOU have to leap up and get washed down again before you realize that maybe there is a different, better path?
I talked about this in Resolve to be Happy, to an extent. Many of us spend years, even a lifetime, beating ourselves up within our so-called comfort zones, simply because the thought of something new, no matter how much better it might be, is simply too scary. We put on our suit and tie, take our taxi to work, clock the time clock, complain about our job, sludge back home and sit in front of the television. We call this living!
Okay, so my situation is really not THAT extreme, but yes, I have had my share of feeling like I am struggling and struggling to get somewhere, but when I stop to think about it, I am not really even sure where I am going, and if I get there, is that really where I want to be? Are the washes downstream really setbacks, or just the Universe trying to point out that I missed that left turn at Albuquerque? (One of my favorite Bugs Bunny lines!)
So, sometimes, what feels like a sacrifice, a failure, giving up… maybe its really going back to find that left turn. I have friends who have shown me that getting fired or laid off, while scary and upsetting, can be the kick in the pants needed to make a life change and turn that step backwards into two steps forward. Another one spends day after day in a job that makes them miserable and unhappy because it pays well. Now they look at the idea of taking a step backward and turning onto a new career stream, swimming outside of their self imposed comfort zone in search of something more.
For years and years my art, and now my writing, have taken a back seat to this comfort zone. Those of you who do follow this blog probably have noted the fairly long gaps between posts. Its not for lack of ideas what to write about, its more for lack of energy. I always say, tomorrow I will paint, this weekend I will write a blog post. I have two books and an in depth article sitting on the back burner for that day when I am suddenly, miraculously less bogged down by being tired and unmotivated.
I said in Resolve to be Happy that I didn’t mean you should necessarily quit your job tomorrow. But shouldn’t you? Are you doing what you really feel like you’re meant to do? How many subtle hints and trips back downstream again do you have to have before you burn out, or get eaten by a bear? How are you doing on that journal, that list of things you always dreamed of doing? Have you become what you wanted to be when you grew up?
Don’t take the leap without thought and preparation of course. A step backward is still a step backward. There’s still other streams to navigate, though with good planning the trip will hopefully be a bit gentler on your body. Don’t just race back downstream and take that left turn without a good idea what rocks and waterfalls there are to navigate, but don’t be afraid to do it, either.
For thirteen of the last twenty years, I have worked in the veterinary field in some form or another, from my first job as a kennel attendant, to emergency care & shelter medicine, to the last two and a half years at a fast paced, high tech, advanced care veterinary practice. The further I have gone in the veterinary field, the more I know I would not be happy in a practice that only did well care. I love the mental challenge, the mystery solving, the advanced client education, the amazing potential for growth and learning.
My body, however, has different ideas. My body and my brain have been at war for a while now. I am one to push myself to keep going, keep battling upstream as my body whines and complains. There’s only so far you can push before things start to break down. That list is a whole other blog post and really not necessary, as most of you 40 and over can appreciate.
Suffice it to say, I have been shoved back down stream many, many times. This week, I decided to go check out what I missed at that left turn in Albuquerque. The bad news is, I am leaving the veterinary field. Maybe for good this time.
The good news is, (I hope anyway) you’ll probably be seeing a lot more of me on this blog, and with good planning and luck, on the internet and in magazines. It has not been done with out a lot of careful thought and planning, and it IS scary. It’s a step back, briefly I hope, in search of my two steps forward.
So, I give my fellow fishes a hug – many of them are already in the right stream and well up over the waterfall – take a deep breath and go with the flow back downstream.
I’ll let you know what lies beyond Albuquerque!