Let’s get uncomfortable

I’m less than three years removed from the the double-digit paychecks and sugar-caked shoes of the baking life, that time when all we knew about each other were first names and shift schedules. Then I crawled my way back into entertainment, and things became appreciably better, by professional standards, by lines in the resume standards, by being able to buy as many iced coffees as I damn well pleased standards.

Life and work are shaped by an unpredictable mixture of events and opportunities, which make some sense only retrospectively when writing a curriculum vitae.

– Ken Robinson, Out of our Minds

I found myself worrying about my resume last night after reading an e-mail about a position which I’d been set to interview for that would no longer be filled. It’s not like I was told I didn’t get the job. It’s not like I was told I was fired. I was simply told that, on account of the company’s busyness, they would be pushing the search till a later date.

The lingering opportunity of a job, despite the interview being pushed week after week, gave me a crutch. It gave my projects a failsafe. I had a reason not to throw myself into things completely, because I’d left myself an out. Despite adding more timelines and deadlines to an increasing number of projects, and researching other ideas for later development, I let myself remain tethered to the ghost of an opportunity, the chance to keep a gap from growing in my resume.

And yet:

People with great projects afoot habitually look further and more clearly into the future than people who are mired in day-to-day concerns. They do not easily grow sad or old; they are seldom intimidated by the alarms and confusions of the present because they have something greater of their own, some sense of their large and coherent motion in time, to compare the present with.

– Robert Grudin, Time and the Art of Living

So I find myself in the middle of these two concepts, between the midst of an external professional instability and an internal belief that the projects I’ve started and will start can attain a quality of life-steadying greatness. The two compete for attention and resources, and though the two aren’t mutually exclusive, there are limits to our abilities. Entertaining one’s responsibilities to the past while projecting oneself into the future is an uncomfortable task. By writing about it, and finding a way to embody both concepts, I’m choosing to embrace it. Instead of lashing out and shutting one side down with some impulsive stroke, I’m wrestling with both.

Being uncomfortable isn’t new. I’ve been uncomfortable before. That was a time I pushed toward ideas I didn’t believe I could do. I ran up hills that my legs begged me not to. I had such big thoughts I had to walk and move, motivated to action by their possibility.

Now, I’m getting uncomfortable again, and I invite you to get uncomfortable, too. Don’t become so preoccupied with assembling a narrative out of the past’s too many pieces that you miss the present. Use the time you have now, wherever you can find it, and focus on finding something greater of your own.

Even if that makes you uncomfortable.

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