It’s 4:15PM and I’m desperately attempting to exit the city to make a Zumba class at 5:30. I am parched beyond parched, but still avoiding drinking too much water thanks to the row of cars in front of me and my tiny bladder. I ask my car to call a couple of friends who don’t answer and then remember I need to catch up with a pal from New England. This time I remember to say her first name only when voice dialing, as her last name never gets recognized. Her daughter’s wedding was over the weekend and I am calling to see where she is emotionally, etc.
Unsurprisingly, we dig into an Oprah-worthy conversation about our paths in life and whether we will ever find what we both have been searching for…well, let’s just say perpetually. (We are the kind who will search forever; it’s lovely and ridiculous and who we are!) She begins by telling me that she is in-between projects and uncertain which direction or dare I say “road” to follow. Initially as she shares, I think I have nothing to offer–she’s more experienced than I’ll ever be. But then, I begin by how odd it is to have a job in which I used think was all-encompassing, and now is mostly just a job. Then AP said, “I know one thing about myself: I want to make a contribution in some way…” that feeds me.
That feeds me.
Those three words echo in the empty car inching its way up 395. (All hope of making it to Zumba at this point have dissolved as it is 4:50 and I am 30 mins from my home and Zumba attire.) So of course, I marinate in these words. What feeds me? What feeds me?
Well other than the obvious addiction to Biryani and Mangoes and Sweet Potato Pie. As I tell AP my point of view, I realize that at this point in my life my job doesn’t feed me like I thought it would or should. It’s an unsettling feeling because from childhood all I’ve ever heard is “What are you going to be when you grow up?” To which I’ve always dreamed the dream: brain surgeon, psychologist, actor, dancer, pianist, singer. Never once did I think I’d work and that work wouldn’t fulfill me. Now, I know there are few people in this world who do work that does maybe fulfill them completely, but I still wonder–does it? Can any one job make a person so complete that she doesn’t seek anything else?
I used to think so. I used to think living in New York City and becoming a teacher was that for me. Even though I stopped dancing for it, I thought teaching would fill that hole and I’d never need anything else. It used to be that no matter where I was, I would find inspiration for my next lesson and my classroom was always on my mind. But now. Well now. I see teaching feeds one part of me–a smaller part of me than projected back in New York. Like AP said, she knows she wants to make a contribution to this world in some way and I guess I’m a bit of a copycat as I want to do that too!
What this contribution looks like, however, isn’t the obvious answer. One may think: bitch please, you a teacher, you already making a contribution! To which I would say, yes, but that is not what is feeding me–anymore. I want to write. I want to write. I want to write. I want to dance. I want to dance. I want to dance. I want to teach Pilates and grow women’s self-esteems in ways they didn’t know they could.
It’s unnerving to feel that your job is just that–a job; a means to make money and be adult, plan for retirement, blah, blah, blah. (Now, before all my colleagues and teacher friends delete me from their feed: this doesn’t mean that I don’t care about my job and bullshit my way through it. My perspective has changed and I see it as growth, not betrayal.)
So, the hand that feeds my bank account is one thing, but these days, the hands that light up my insides are taking the driver seat more often.
And I can’t say I’m mad at it.