Ask any school-age child what they want to be when they grow up; they will tell you that they want to be a nurse, a surfer, a circus acrobat, an engineer, a dancer, a train conductor, a fighter pilot, a singer, a Marine, a traveler to foreign lands, a super hero, a concert violinist, an archaeologist, a painter, and so on. They can see their future as a straight path, lined in bright lights, showing them the way to their dream. It’s all so clear to them!
Remember feeling that way? What did you want to do when you grew up? Did you achieve your dream, or did you change your mind? Did you do what you wanted to do, or what was expected of you? Do you believe that it’s too late now to try something new? Or is age just another springboard to new ideas, new jobs, new interests, new passions?
I wanted to be a famous writer ever since I was young. In fact, I was so sure that I would be one that I told my math teachers that I didn’t need to know about numbers; after all, I was going to be a writer. (Funny thing–it turns out that you need numbers just as much as you need words.) In fact, in order to live a full life you really need to learn all you can about everything–math, science, history, literature, art, chemistry (especially if you’re going to bake!), psychology, physical education–everything. When you are exposed to so much learning, you have a better chance of finding your place, your niche, your interest, your thing.
In my own case, I spent most of my working life as a technical writer, which, while not terribly arty, is an art form nonetheless. I learned to make complicated concepts simple and show that they follow a process just like anything else. Clear and concise writing is actually quite creative: you have a product that needs a user manual. You can make no assumptions that the person reading it knows anything about the product, so you have to be both specific and *consistent. Basically you need to explain how to start the product, run it successfully and stop it.
Much of my time is spent in creative writing, though; this blog, instructions for various people, poems, children’s chapter books, narratives, plays, and so on. Where I can’t always speak clearly, I can be clear with words. They are my shield, my translator, my main vehicle for communication. It really is my “thing,” and I’d rather write than almost anything.
Now, that said, as I’ve gotten older I’ve discovered new interests; ones that don’t require me to be young, pretty, active or even terribly smart. I am slowly but surely learning to play the ukelele–certainly one of the happiest-sounding instruments ever invented. Just playing my little bits of songs makes me happy.
I became interested and then involved in studying metaphysical practices such as meditation, Reiki, learning how to manage my emotions and moods, and natural techniques to feel better and live better. They have become such a part of my life that these practices are old friends to me now. When I received my Reiki Master Practitioner license last month, I knew that I did not want to have a “practice” and set up a business. This is certainly not to say that there is anything wrong with setting up a practice to perform Reiki, massage therapy, etc. I just know that that path isn’t going to work for me.
My plan has always been to offer Reiki to those I feel may need/accept it. Generally I feel drawn to someone before I offer it; I get a feeling that Reiki may help them or at least help ease them through whatever it is they are going through. Whether or not they accept it is completely up to them. I don’t charge for this, although I might barter services; i.e., a Reiki session for a foot massage, or an hour of house cleaning. It all works out, but mainly I get to give back. I have had a very good life so far and this is a way I can “pay it forward.”
Believe me, I never dreamed I would ever do this when I was a child or even a young adult. I was lucky enough to have extraordinary teachers and mentors who opened my eyes and heart to new interests. We may have had aspirations to be singers when we were young–and with hard work and good breaks it could happen. Or we may just use our songs to soothe our babies, inspire someone or simply just amuse ourselves.
But however things turn out, we will find the path for ourselves. Often that path shows up suddenly and without warning, and before you know it, you are on your way. Have faith, believe you will find your path and purpose, and above all, don’t be afraid to stick your neck out.
…after all, that’s how turtles make their way in the world–they stick their necks out and their bodies follow.
*Nothing riles me like reading a manual that calls something a “widget” on the first page, then calls the same thing a “doodad” or “thingy” or “whatzit” in the next couple of pages!