As a proud member of Generation X (remember us?), I favor gross generalizations and half-baked analysis of the world as I see it. What can I say, I grew up with lessons like 'Free to Be...You and Me.' This is why Generation X is the true Greatest Generation. Nothing can touch the awesomeness of the life-lessons given to us via our pop-culture. Nothing.
Based on my own experiences and those of my friends, I have, of late, been considering work - be it a job, a career, a passion. Seems like a lot of us are reaching a collective crossroads about what work means to us. Our difficulties are circumstantial - we are aging through jobs that are more frequently being given to employees younger than us. Our difficulties are lifestyle-based - raised by Baby Boomers who wanted to instill in us something resembling idealism our parents stressed the importance of lifestyle over career, and we made our choices accordingly. And our difficulties are economic - we are getting paid less to do more for a society that could, largely, give a shit.
No need to pay us a living wage, no need to provide us health benefits, no need to provide for our retirements. It will all work itself out. Just do your job.
There are many directions one could point the Mighty Finger of Accusation, but blaming is ultimately fruitless, so I'll skip that option.
Instead, I've been trying to reconnect to the interests and passions and choices that brought me to this point in my life. I've been trying to do this without judgment (why the f*** did I major in English?!), and I've been trying to assess my options in a realistic (it is what it is) fashion. Trying. Not necessarily succeeding, but trying.
Wanting to be a writer (which I'll always define as living as an ex-pat living in Europe while drinking and fornicating and getting paid to publish) was always a given. I'll admit that my vision of being a writer has, uh, changed as age and reality have intervened, but at the core there has always been something about a person hunched before a typewriter (yeah, yeah) that made sense to me.
That image resonated because I could feel it. So, yea, writer.
There are other dreams/occupations: superhero, rock drummer God, photographer for 'America's Next Top Model.' But by and large I strive to make this writing thing happen while I also maintain a job and do my best as husband and father and friend.
But this job thing...you know I used to always say that I would focus on my passions (see above) and work would fund those passions. That model was clearly born in the late-80s and early 90s because the work-world, at least now in the US, doesn't do much to provide options that align well with artistic interests, family obligations, soul-searching, religious pilgrimages, travel, whatever.
For the many of us who are working jobs vs. those few of you who are working your dream careers, it's difficult just to keep ourselves competitive and relevant so that we can keep those interest-sustaining jobs. We may even be excelling at those jobs; we may even be putting more life-energy and self-sacrifice into those jobs than we ever thought we would just to make sure we have a regular paycheck and decent bennies and a craft beer fund.
Somehow and some way the side-line job that was supposed to fund the other more important interests became the only thing. And then that only thing decided we were no longer worthy.
And so forth and thusly we find ourselves at the crossroads.
I don't have any answers for my own situation or the situations of my friends and colleagues. There probably aren't answers. I guess it's enough to acknowledge that many of us are here, together, trying to make the right choices for ourselves and for those who depend on us.
We don't tread the crossroads alone, and despite all evidence to the contrary, I still believe we are free to be you and me.