Two quotes for me to ponder.

“I am not a mechanism”

“[E]veryone on [Mom’s] side of the family are writers, philosophers, and artists at heart.  Most all have eschewed that for a life/career that resulted in a regular paycheck.”

The first quote is from D. H. Lawrence.  The second is an excerpt of an email that I received from my brother while we were still getting to know each other (actually we are still engaged in that process).  One of the things that I am struggling with right now is that I have in fact eschewed those very things for a career that has resulted in a regular paycheck.  Along the way, I have neglected to feed that heart.  If you allow me to think metaphorically, I have been quite deliberately closing off access to the very thing that keeps me alive-my heart.

I always knew that I had a certain facility for writing and philosophy, even if they became more of a hobby, an outlet, than a vocation.  I didn’t think that I was an artist.  But in all three cases, I didn’t seek out any opportunities to hone and develop those innate skills.  Instead I went the technical route.  I started out studying engineering.  I switched majors believing that I couldn’t hack it as an engineer.  The truth was I didn’t want to.  So when I switched from the college of engineering to the college of arts and sciences (and later business school) I had 15 credits of math that I had forced myself through when I was only required by my new major to have 3.  I didn’t really care that I knew so much about math, but it make me feel a little bit like a wunderkind when the TA was always looking to me to help my Stat 101 class answer questions from a calculus based viewpoint. 

What I’ve learned though, is that whatever I have done since I have graduated, whether I have been a go-to guy or a cubicle gnome (or somewhere in between) has pretty much been complete drudgery.  I went to college to get an education.  What I got was two degrees that certify that I am an officially programmed mechanism.  Maybe a mechanism that can perform at a higher level or more efficiently than others, but a mechanism none-the-less. 

My brother may argue that he has eschewed the life of a writer, philosopher, and artist for a regular paycheck, but I think that his profession allows him a genuine connection with people.  To be that writer, philosopher, artist on a one-to-one basis, even if no one else recognizes it.

Meanwhile, I am still standing on the banks of the river, dipping my toes in, hedging my bet.  I need to cross the river, and toss away my paddle.  Then if people say “You’re crazy, come back over here where it is safe,” I can squint my eyes and declare that it is too late, I have already crossed the Rubicon.

I am a writer.  I am a philosopher.  Yes, I am even an artist.

I am not a mechanism.

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2 Comments

Filed under career, life, quotes

2 responses to “Two quotes for me to ponder.

  1. What a beautiful and inspiring post. As someone who is in the middle of trying to cross the river (whether successfully has yet to be determined!), your words resonate with me so very much. When I was standing on the bank, I saw this picture at a store that said: “it’s never too late to be who you might have been.” Reading that led me to jump into the water head first. Even if we fail, we at least won’t have to grow old with the regret of never even trying. There has to be some measure of peace in that, right?

  2. Thanks Wendy, your blog has inspired me as well. Dreams are starting to take shape in my head, I just need to make them reality.

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