A big problem with life is that we don’t always recognize opportunity and we don’t know who we’re going to be in the future or what we’re going to care about. Sometimes I look back on my 20s (that decade of searching, blindness and obliviosity) and I see that things were set down in front of me like, “Here! Here it is! This is IT! You are gonna’ LOVE this if you stick with it! Oh my God! This is the Shining Star!” and I didn’t see them at all.
Because I didn’t ski much or well when I was 23, I didn’t think a career at Head Ski in marketing was up my alley at all! Seven years later, I lived to ski. I had finished grad school, couldn’t find a teaching job (teaching was the second “Here! Here it is! This is IT! You are gonna’ LOVE this if you stick with it! Oh my God! This is the Shining Star!”) and I was working as a paralegal in a law firm — the same law firm, BTW, that was founded by the grandfather of the man who is Trump’s choice for SCOTUS. Who knew? Every Friday night I went home, did art and Saturday morning I was up and out with friends heading west, turning left, heading up a winding mountain pass and BAM! Skiing.
It didn’t even occur to me until YEARS later when I was teaching Business Communication that I would have been very happy doing marketing for Head Ski, getting free skis and skiing all the time as part of my job. I might even have become good at the sport. I wouldn’t have had to go to grad school, either, which I hated. I had met Howard Head, we had a good impression of each other and I had gotten a huge award and bonus for service to the company already after only two months of work. I was viewed as a “bright young thing.” It was the one place in my life where I worked in which pretty much everyone liked me. It was a great company, and I fit. But I had the idea that working in “bidness” was beneath my intellectuality, and I only allowed myself to work there a year…
I think sometimes that it would be great if life were more clear with those markers. It’s not easy for a young person to take the long view. How could it be when 30 is old?
P.S. This doesn’t mean I’m unhappy with the way my life turned out. As Goethe wrote, when we are young we stand at a wide crossroads and view all of the possibilities as equally belonging to us, but as we go through “life’s labyrinthine chaos course” ways become closed to us. Most people don’t know that Goethe dreamed of being a painter. ❤