Kelly Diels is writer/teacher/sex goddess/mama/Red Shoe Blogger who wants to talk about what happens when you already KNOW what your thing is…but are wildly intimidated. She’s got a theory that lots of us actually know what we’re here to do but shy away from it because it’s not practical.
And the answer is not (entirely) Fie To Practicality! so much as “make it practical”. Find ways to do your thing and tap-dance your way into meaning even if the orchestra (or economy!) isn’t yet playing your song. The meaning isn’t in the job title. It’s in the doing.
On (Almost) Losing My Suitcase and Finding My Purpose: A Metaphor
Prince George. As I step off the plane into the summer sunshine, I’m lit and light with anticipation. After two months apart, I’m about to spend a week with my loverloverman.
My week of wonder, however, is still a few hours away: I’ve got to get a shuttle to the bus station and then a bus to Smithers. But time with my man is closer than ever and that’s all that’s on my mind. It’s everything that’s on my mind. There’s no need for dilly-dallying and dawdling in the airport, picking over magazines or picking up snacks and sustenance. No, I’m carrying everything I need in my laptop case, my purse, my hands, my heart. And so I head from the plane right through the airport, straight for the shuttle and step inside. I’m buoyant. Light. Travelling light.
I’m the first one in. What is taking everyone else so long?
They start trickling into the shuttle, sloooooooowly and inelegantly loading their bags and suitcases into the back, taking forever…Effing baggage. Let’s go!
Oh wait. I’ll be right back. That’s what I exclaim to the shuttle driver as I leap out of my seat, out of the shuttle, and back into the airport.
For that one lonely suitcase rounding the carousel. My suitcase, the one I’d left behind in my enthusiasm to get where I was going…without my things.
Who leaves an airport without her luggage?
I almost did. And I’m not the only one. Airports and airlines have claim desks full of stray suitcases. People forget their things. If they thought about them, they’d know where they were, what they contained. Their things aren’t lost, exactly. They just need to be claimed.
It was the same with My Thing. I’m a writer. I always knew I was a writer. From the age of eight I knew I could and would and should write essays, articles, books.
But I resisted being a writer because I read too much. I read Little Women: Jo scribbles in the attic and later lives in a single room in a rooming house. I read Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man and was not seduced by the existential anguish of an undiscovered genius. And then I read Down and Out in London and Paris wherein George Orwell decides he’s a writer, lives in a bug-infested rented room and – when he’s not working hellish hours in a hellish kitchen – sells his clothes to buy bread to survive another day.
True story. And not one I care to emulate. Attics and garrets, they grow tiresome. Poverty is not my thing…and so neither was writing for a living.
And so I always knew writing was My Thing but I chose to leave it behind. I walked out of the airport and into my life without my suitcase. Without My Thing.
And that was fine(ish). I went to university, I got great jobs, I did well, I made money, I worked in the city and lived in the suburbs, I lived well. Everything was ok.
From the outside. I got up, got my girls to daycare, went to work, did it well, picked up my girls, made dinner, put them to bed, watched TV…and wondered:
Is this it? Is this what I’m living for? To collect a paycheque to pay for daycare and cable?
And that wasn’t it. That wasn’t my thing and I knew it and I’d always known it. Because My Thing just wasn’t practical. How would I make it a career? How would I make money?
And those are the wrong questions to start with.
When you’re finding your thing, start with this:
What would I do for free? What do I do even though no one pays me?
The money and career questions (and answers and plans and plots and schemes) come later. Because Your Thing doesn’t have to be a full-time job, a career or even make you money. Mother Theresa had a thing. I doubt it paid very well.
(My children pay even less and I’m in that gig for life.)
So put aside the practical questions and be truly, madly, deeply impractical: what do you need to do? What would you do for free?
And then do that. You don’t have to quit your job. Just start doing your thing. You and your thing will find your way together.
If you claim it from the carousel (should I? Shouldn’t I? Can I? Will I? And ’round and ’round…) and carry it with you on your journey.
You can find Kelly Diels at her blog, Cleavage (about sex, money and meaning and writing through the lines that shape us); on Twitter (@kellydiels); or Facebook (Cleavage by Kelly Diels).
pssst: if you’d like to share your story (or question!) with Thing Finding Thursday, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.