Did I mention I was looking for a job?

Greetings to all! Is it Monday? All the nicely dressed folks making their way through Starbucks this morning seem to have “Monday Face” and a driving need for caffeine.  Must be a work day even in this laid back village. I’ve lost a sense of the calendar which I think is a good thing at this stage. Breaking habits of action and thought was another goal for this summer road trip. Another, not yet mentioned, is finding a new career (and not just another job…those are easy enough to come by). The blog title hints at this objective although I haven’t written about it. I also haven’t mentioned anything about why I am currently unemployed and probably will not. I think my work karma is pretty good. No reason to tarnish it by whining and casting stones.

But I am looking for a job. I tore up my old resume as it was of no real value (over a decade old and just a bit yellow due to cheap paper). I’ve been in the same field of endeavor for almost 16 years; grant and program management for HIV/AIDS related health and social programs. When I joined the “cause” in October of 1991, the field was still being defined, the market still open and young, the opportunities for both good work and villiany plenty. It feels like it’s time to move on. Before I do, however, I want to understand why it’s time to move on. Am I simply burned-out? Have all the windmills been jousted and tyrants ousted? Are the problems remaining mundane or lacking a real challenge? Have the wolves that always gather to feed off the sheep of social life won the field? Do I care about the sheep anymore? And why do I think of them as sheep nowadays?

I don’t expect answers any time soon. July is “figure everything out” month. In the meantime, keeping up this blog to sharpen some long lost writing skills and scanning all the employment sites for options is enough for now. I’m still in residence at a wonderful cabin in the pines of NJ and Medford Lakes. A rainy day perfect for reading. I finished John Scalzi’s Ghost Brigade last night. Do check out his weblog, Whatever. It’s alleged to be one of the oldest and most read blogs on the web. My thanks to Dr Keith for introducing me to both Scalzi and Cory Doctorow during my last year at WUSM. Sometime this week I’ll get a reading list posted for summer enlightenment and escape. Suggestions are most welcome along with personal reviews.

http://www.scalzi.com/whatever/

http://www.boingboing.net/

Cory Doctorow’s weblog.

One small note: as I pulled into Starbucks this morning my trip odometer was at (1)999.90. I should trip 2,000 miles right after I pass through the first traffic light on the way back to the cabin. I’m reluctant to suggest that I am anywhere close to being half way through.

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4 Responses to Did I mention I was looking for a job?

  1. Nicola Evans says:

    Interesting stuff. I LOVE soul searching!

    Losing a sense of the calendar is a great thing, I can highly recommend it although I draw the line at not remembering which year it is…

    Breaking habits is also another excellent goal and your trip couldn’t be more appropriate for that.

    Finding a new career, I went through the same thing myself a few years ago. What was this previously radical feminist, arse-kicking, ball-breaking lawyer going to do? Hmmm, holistic massage! I did a year long course and am now fully qualified. I don’t actually do it as a paying job but I still do it every week and it is a huge part of my life, it keeps me grounded and centred. Allows me to concentrate on the physical rather than the cerebral. The contrast to my usual intellectual pursuits is what attracted me and still keeps me attracted. I met wonderful people on the course I would never have come across. I kept my previous profession a secret during most of the course, just said I was between jobs.

    It was an opportunity for me to be someone completely different, no-one knew me or knew anything about me – new city for me. It was fascinating to watch people try to work out what I used to do. I enjoyed the absence of people’s expectations of who I was and how I “should” behave. Very refreshing. All the usual ways by which people make assumptions were not available, the clothes, accroutrements, cars, etc, people took you as they found you, it was a very liberating time. As time went on my old warrior disposition came through and I found myself in my usual position of being outraged by injustice and taking on cases (small cases) for people on the course, their friends and relatives. That taught me something, it meant some of the fundamentals of the person I thought I was and thought I wanted to get away from, were actually an integral part of me and I came to acceptance of it.

    Anyway not sure how I got on to all that! Just to say I know what it is like to be seeking some kind of big change….

    Like you I had been in the same field for 20 years. When I looked for the cause of my dissatisfaction I had the same confusion, what was it I no longer liked? Looking at your situation, it was fairly early days in 1991, the field was indeed still being defined – was that part of the attraction for you, that it was innovative? In new fields, there are often not the established politics – was that part of the attraction for you?

    As you know I have some limited experience in the HIV “industry” and having come into what is now a “mature” arena, I can see that certain politics are established, I can see dissatisfaction amongst those for whom the radical and shock opportunities feel diminished. There is now a public relations arm – the “message” has to be palatable for the public.

    I think it’s essential for you to try to understand why you feel it’s time to move on. If you don’t understand that, you could just be walking into the same issues with a new career choice.

    Burn-out is a possibility – is it a probability? Working hard for many years without a real break can give us that feeling. But is it the area of work or simply down to the amount of effort you have expended?

    “Have all the windmills been jousted and tyrants ousted? Are the problems remaining mundane or lacking a real challenge?” I think this is a serious question in your case. Have the big battles been won? Is that what matters for you? Are you looking for another big battle? Since you know that the HIV issue has a) not disappeared and b) has not been resolved, how can you say that the windmills have been jousted?

    “Have the wolves that always gather to feed off the sheep of social life won the field? Do I care about the sheep anymore? And why do I think of them as sheep nowadays?” If you give yourself real time to think about this, is this how you feel. If you think about it carefully, is that what you think? Have the wolves really won? What have they won? I know you care still about the sheep but if you do think of them as sheep, yes that could be a sign to move on to another cause.

    Is that what you need? Another cause? Maybe not. When I was in counselling to sort out the meaning and direction of my life a few years ago (a brilliant woman who did exactly what it said on the tin), and I was asking about new causes I could join, I was considering volunteering for Amnesty International et al, looking for a “cause”. She said to me “why do you think you need to man the barricades again? You don’t always have to do that”. Good point.

    My massage course was not about manning another barricade, it was about moving from the intellectual to the physical, it was not about another career, it was about doing something completely different. It was a personal journey rather than a conscious career choice. It was not until the course ended and I looked at how to retain it in my life without earning money from it that the HIV community came into my life. But that was not the intention at the outset.

    I think the same could be helpful to you. Step down from the barricades for a while. Re-charge your batteries – see how that feels. Don’t think the batteries can be fully re-charged in a matter of weeks, it takes a long time. Give yourself that time.

    If you are looking for a new career, take your time. Maybe you take a “job” whilst you wait for inspiration, after all man cannot live by spiritual inspiration alone, the bills have to be paid. Maybe consider consulting with a good (and I mean good) life coach. A good one can be invaluable. Give yourself time to just “be” and maybe look for signs. People can be messengers in our lives and give us signs as to where we can take our lives. A journey like yours (by which I mean your road trip) can bring you to new people who can bring you important messages. You are always looking for what you can do for other people, think about what other people might be bringing to you. Make sure you are not so busy giving that you miss the gifts others may be trying to bring you.

    This time you are giving yourself is truly a gift to yourself and I feel sure the answer is out there, that is why you are on this trip. Take your time…. and then take more time….and just be….be present….quiet your mind and I feel sure inspiration will come to you and you will move on to the next wonderful and rewarding stage of your life.

    Well I didn’t intend to get quite so philosophical so early in the morning, must be the tea!

    Nicola

  2. jtholste says:

    Nicola-

    I will need a cup of “that tea” before I can begin to appreciate all that you have gifted me with. I can’t help but think of the pseudo-therapists and socialist workers that you could put out of business just be switching your vocation yet again!

    I’ve done this journey before back in early 1991 before I entered the AIDS business. I was fortunate enough to spend a long weekend during that road trip in the intimate company of M. Scott Peck, the author of The Road Less Traveled and his wife (along with 100 other folks. The glory of it all was that there were only three smokers in the whole group, Me, Scottie Peck, and his wife 😉 I have to credit this excounter with just the kind of direction I was most in need of.

    The next few years were filled with gain and loss, pain and joy, and, sadly, lots of death. Even though I’ve only been to one AIDS related funeral in the last year, compared to 4-5 a month in the mid-90’s, I still lose something with each. Perhaps time on the other “end” of the wheel where birth is more common that departures.

    That reminds me…did you see The Fountain with Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz? Something else to ponder over tea.

    Best wishes. Is the puppy still free?

  3. Nicola Evans says:

    Ah there is plenty of tea at the cabin – genuine PG tips pyramid bags which I personally smuggled in!

    You are the third person to mention the Road Less Travelled in just a couple of weeks. I figure that’s a sign to read it so I have just ordered it from Amazon.

    You know that kind of insight about being on the other end of the wheel can be really valuable. You’ve been dealing with death, maybe now is the time to deal with new life or maybe some kind of new birth in a less literal sense. Definitely something to ponder on.

    And no I haven’t seen the film The Fountain so I have just ordered it from my DVD rental company – will let you know!

    The puppy still roams free – all quiet on that front thus far.

    And now it’s time for afternoon tea….

    Nicola

  4. jtholste says:

    The book, The Road Less Traveled,” holds the record for the most weeks on the New York Times Review of Books (as measured in YEARS!). Peck was a military psychiatrist during the Vietnam War and was responsible for some of the initial psych evaluation of Lt. Calley and others who commited the My Lai massacre. His first major work, People of the Lie, focused on how even little people become instruments of true evil. His Vietnam experience seems to have taught him the power of groups to move people toward “pack evil” and he explores, through the Road Less Traveled and later books, the possibility of developing mechanisms for “group good.” I;ve participated in some if his experiements and have been very impressed.

    He also has been very conscious of avoiding the development of a sect, cult, or religious group based upon his work. He has steadfast refused to reveal his Christian background for fear of serving as an unintentional endorsement. I’m betting he’s Church of England, however, and used to hang with Desmond Tutu a lot. I have to confess I do not know if he is still alive. He was suffering from serious arthritis of the spine and other ailments. When I was in his small workshop he avoided chairs in favor of being prone on the floor (and gin and tonic was his prefered pain reliever).

    I’ve found the tea bags and shall enjoy them soon!

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