In Transition – Sunday, 10 June 2012

Well. This is one of those mornings that I wish I could avoid. One of those mornings when I wish I didn’t have to hear the questions echoing in my head. One of those mornings when parts of me are confused, and parts of me are tired, and parts of me are feeling things I just don’t understand.I used to have a normal job. Working 40 hours a week. With benefits. Like vacation. And holidays. And even sick days. And I made 4 times what I make now. But. That all changed. That all ended. 20 months ago.

I work at Best Buy now. In a part-time job. And I can’t help but feel that there are people who think I should be doing something else. Something “more worthy” of a person with my skills, and experience.

Trouble is, I don’t really know what I want to do. Other than write. I’ve learned that writing’s part of me. Part of my heart and soul. When I don’t write, I’m not OK. And it shows.

Yes, I’ve got technical skills. I can, if I take the time, and put in the effort, make a computer do pretty much anything I want it to. 29 years of writing and maintaining software applications on computers of all kinds demonstrates that. And those skills do show when I am helping customers at the counter of Geek Squad. Even the other people on Geek Squad have noticed them.

But I feel as if that part of my life is over. Done. Ended. That I’ve played that game of employment. That I’ve put in my time, living within the confines of that type of work. And that I don’t want to be restrained that way any more. I’ve already said I won’t ever work in the Defense Industry again. I didn’t say that lightly. The nature of that industry wounds me. And the wounds don’t heal. They build. Layer on top of layer. Until I come apart. As I did 20 months ago.

I’ve spoken with my lady. About taking classes at TCC. “What type of classes do you think I should take?” She knows me. She answered. Saying I should take the type of classes that interest me.

It’s hard to have patience with myself sometimes. Hard to start over. From nothing. Hell, I’m 53 years old. I’m not supposed to be starting from nothing, am I? I’m supposed to be at the peak of my career. Right? That’s what everyone thinks, isn’t it?

And somehow, I’m between two lives. That career that I’m supposed to be in, and doing so well in. It’s over. Done. Ended. And I find myself thinking, “Is this what life is like for people who retire? Do they wonder what to do? How to pass the time?”

When I take the time to explore the jobs market, and the reported earnings for various jobs, I find that what I’m earning per hour at Best Buy is actually above the median earnings per hour for a retail employee. So, I can’t complain about my current income. I look at the median income for various other categories of work. And I find they range from $10 an hour to $20 an hour.

So, the odds of me having an income that even begins to approach what I had in the career that’s over, are almost non-existent. At the best, I might find something where I can earn half of what I did. But… Do I want to?

That’s the question I face now. The question most people consider answered in college. When they plan what they will do with the rest of their lives, as a member of our society. That’s how things are supposed to work.

But things change, don’t they. And the economy has changed. And is changing. I know plenty of people my age that have had their careers come to an end. And not by choice. They got laid off. Let go. And then spent months trying to get back into the same type of work they were doing. Some of them have been laid off twice now. Some even more. Because things are changing.

So, I work at Best Buy. I like to think of it as a “sustenance income”. Where I’m bringing in the money I have to bring in. And while in that job, I can explore the question, “What do I want to do with the rest of my life?” I can explore the question, “Where do you want to be in a year?”

Perhaps it’s time for me to take some classes at TCC. And explore new things. Perhaps that’s where I am in life. In a holding pattern. An in-between time. When I’m supposed to rest. And heal the wounds of the past. Exploring other parts of life. Until I find where I’m supposed to be. What I’m supposed to do. Until I can find answers to the questions that I have at this point in life. Until I have an answer to the question, “What next?”

Perhaps this is where I’m supposed to be. Having finished the career I was supposed to have. Having earned the opportunity to change. To learn. To live. And to explore life. Finding out who I really am. And what my dreams are. What I wish to do, and who I wish to be.

I’ll take a look at the classes offered at TCC. And this fall, I’ll take one or two. That just may be the next step for me to take as I cross this gap between what I once was, and what I am to be. I don’t have to panic. I have time. For once. I have time.

Mark.

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