Thoughts from One who “Flits”

Growing up — well getting into high school — it was all about “concentration.” “What’s your concentration?” a question that appeared more as time went on, but it was already there for college-tracked high school kids. Even my dad said I should specialize. “Focus on something, MAK. Make it your specialization.”

My mom called me a, “Flighty little thing,” and said I should settle on ONE thing rather than “flitting from this to that.” The point was (and no one spelled this out for me) that if you were REALLY REALLY exceptionally good at something, your future was secure.

Along with this message, I was getting the OTHER message, also from my dad, that life is in the here and now which translates into “Do what you love.”

I don’t think I’ve done much in my life intentionally. Things just appeared in the pathway, and I grasped the ones that drew me. My major in college was English not because it was my great passion, but because my mom refused to send me spending money if I majored in anything not recommended by the STRONG Interest Inventory that had been given to me by the government. I was getting the GI bill because my dad was a disabled veteran. The Feds wanted to make sure they were betting on a winner. The exam said I could be a lawyer or a newscaster and English was a good major for me. But it also said I had the aptitude to be a forest ranger and the aptitude to work with animals.

Very clear…

My first choice for a major was art, but… So English it was. I became a teacher after tutoring someone and learning that I liked helping people learn. Most of the other aspects in my life have definitely been “flitting.”

No one explained in those early days that the concentration etc. was about earning a living, not about passion for life. In the midst of being a paralegal in the late 1970s I discovered that important point myself. Besides typing at a law firm and putting up with lawyers (no offense lawyers πŸ™‚ ), I was writing and painting. The job was challenging enough and my colleagues were smart. My SECOND life began on Friday at 4:30 and ended at 6 am Monday mornings.

This by Thoreau has always echoed in my mind, β€œLet not to get a living be thy trade, but thy sport.” I remembered a description from some point in my schooling about the “Renaissance man” who did many different things well, not just one. Maybe it’s not “flitting” at all but living a meaningful life.

27 thoughts on “Thoughts from One who “Flits”

  1. “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” (John Lennon, Allen Saunders, maybe someone else before that.) That seems to have shaped your life as well as mine. Sometimes I wasn’t even making other plans. While working my father said, “You’re not supposed to like it. Why do you think they call it work?” After retirement he said, “Life is too short to spend 8 hours a day doing something you don’t like.” Luckily I had ignored his earlier advice, which is why I left college after one semester. (Truth be told, I was gone before that.)

    • I liked school in a way so I stayed in a pretty long time. When grad school became the endless dissection and comparison of the words of literary critics I knew the affair was over. I’m a maker. The words and ideas of NON-makers who sit in judgement of makers are nothing but sour grapes (IMO) so no PhD for Martha! πŸ˜€

        • I went to grad school after working in the “real” world for 4 years. The first class some old fuck came in (the prof) and said, “What are you all doing here? Why don’t you go out and get real jobs?” — to us, his students! I thought, “Well, maybe you never had a real job.” That guy was a piece of work. Talk about sexual harassment… well that’s something for another day.

  2. I wonder if high schoolers still get the same advice that we did. I think it’s also about the choices & opportunities we are offered (or think we have access to). But! how glorious if one could feel free to flit if necessary to discover what life’s true passion was meant to be. I wonder if I would have done things differently if…. But when you are a dependent 18 year old, well, those choices get mucked up sometimes.

  3. Hmmm…I studied what I loved, Sociology/Anthropology with a minor in Women’s Studies. But, then it was well, what now…Someone suggested teaching, so I became a Brownie Leader to see if I’d like to be a teacher, and I loved it. Discovered how much I loved teaching literacy, so I got my Masters, and that was/is my work life, but my love of nature and a few other things also filled my life. I consider myself lucky that I mostly fell into or chose a path that interested me. Some people have a harder time with that.

    • I feel lucky in the same way. If I hadn’t volunteered to teach literacy to adults I would not have become a teacher and I loved teaching for more than 30 years. πŸ™‚

  4. I often use the “I’m a Renaissance woman” excuse πŸ˜‰ That, and “I like to reinvent myself.”

    Just different ways to say “I flit.” To be otherwise would be…boring.

    • ❀ I agree.

      I use "man" because it came from the Latin for hand, or "manibus" which is (IMO) a defining aspect of our species. I will never understand how it got twisted to be "hand with a womb." Really disturbing image. πŸ˜€

  5. Some people are wired to go in a straight line and others take a more circuitous route. My 2 sons are prime examples – son#2 loved music, couldn’t conceive of any career that wasn’t music related, graduated college with a music degree. He is currently working in a music store, playing with the symphony, giving private lessons, and in a quartet… Son#1 went to college for 7 semesters with 6 majors. He works in a grocery deli as a supervisor. His passion is reading, cooking, and a variety of hobbies. His life is sort of split into work for money and money for hobbies… The only thing that is important for me is that they are both happy.

  6. Its wonderful to hear you think through your life. Makes me realize how many accidents have happened to each of us so that we became who we are now. One can imagine turning off real life’s path at various points, but every branch you might take would lead to other branches. Truly a story from Borges: the garden of forking paths, or the book of sand?

    • “The Garden of Forking Paths” is one of my all-time favorite stories, that and “The Library of Babel.” I love Borges The image of life as a labyrinth has always captivated me, “Des Lebens labyrinthische irren lauf” to quote Goethe.

      • There is also something to be said about the book of sand. That you can never get to the end. Every page that you open, is another story. What a lovely state to be in. I hope my mind remains as malleable as that when I get older.

        • I will have to read that. It sounds wonderful. I started writing a blog when I was going through some really hard times personally, financially and professionally. I decided that every day I would write one good, happy memory (story). It was a great exercise and what struck me is that every day is some kind of story. The blog is still around, but private.

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