I just turned another year older and I’m trying hard to find the joy in getting older. I should be happy, even celebrate the fact I’ve managed to live another year. At one time in history that would have been nearly miraculous. In the here and now though it is more like a reminder of all the things you haven’t yet accomplished and those things that are looking very much unattainable. I hate to admit it but life almost seems like a marathon where you’re trying desperately to make it to each checkpoint but finding the only way you’ll get even close to the end is to take some of those shortcuts along the way.
Now I don’t want this to seem like a depressing diatribe about how my life isn’t quite what I thought it would be, but more of an acknowledgement of the reality check something like your birthday can trigger. It’s almost like a forced look out in the mirror to see who you REALLY are at the conclusion of another year of your life. I won’t say I’m not happy with the person I see; after all she is much stronger and wiser than her younger version; but she is also a woman with great responsibility and no foundation. Nearing forty and still struggling to find that stable “career ” that’s going to ride me into an actual retirement does not make it easy to sleep at night. Having, recently come face to face with some real choices that involve family sacrifice for career, no matter how short term, force you to consider the possibility that some ships have poverbably sailed.
The world, our society has changed at an incredible rate and the world of my parents no longer exists. In their youth finding work and having a career was a much less elusive prospect. The need for expensive pieces of paper from schools was not as great and the idea that you can train someone to do a job once you’ve hired them still stood strong. Now the specialization of the job market has hit close to ludicrous and those expensive pieces of paper get you $15/hour jobs that can’t begin to pay down your student debt let alone your day to day living. Not to mention that the minimum wage is soon to hit this same amount in many provinces. So to work at a fast food restaurant as a manager is the equivalent pay to working in a healthcare position for which you needed an education. Not to knock those managers! Looking back now I realize that I should have taken my fast food restaurant manger’s advice and stuck with him as I’d probably own my own store by now. The perspective of what constitutes a good career has been turned upside down.
But I digress, the ups and downs of a career are only one aspect life reflection brings to light. The bucket list comes to mind. A few years ago we began to embrace this idea that there’s a chance you won’t get to do all the marvellous things life has to offer, so better pick a few and the pressure is on to achieve them. It’s not a bad idea by far. The truth is we can’t have it all. Or at least most of us can’t. I’m not sure though if having this list lingering in the shadow of your life is a half full motivator or half empty reminder of how much it sucks you can’t do any of it. I tend to think I’d end up spilling the glass and wrecking the list. I don’t have one per say. There are definitely things I would love to do, but in the scheme of realistic expectations of what is accomplishable in my current life, the list would be more depressing then motivation, so I prefer not to think about it.
As I a parent I’m not sure what to say to my kids about big dreams and high hopes. I’d never want to crush their little spirits but it also pains me to think of them suffering the defeats of life. For now I tell them to dream and find the foundation of learning because in the very least they will go through life questioning and exploring, which is hopefully never a bad thing.