Tuesday, December 4, 2007

What are you waiting for?

I'm going to go ahead and blame my mother for this one.

Mom gives me the books she's finished with whenever I see her. For a long time it seemed that she was only reading about single ( and mostly British for some reason) women living in New York or London with various relationship/life woes that of course always work out in the end (The Shopaholic books, various Marion Keyes books). Now she has veered into stories about women either in their 30s or older who have to face some sort of personal crisis brought on by something that happened in their past (very uplifting...gack.) We're talking some serious "chick lit." Personally, I've been trying to read more classics lately -- The Great Gatsby, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, etc. Or, as a friend pointed out, "Oh, old chick lit."

Anyway, back to the most recent book my mother gave me: "Pieces of My Sister's Life" -- in which one of the characters is slowly dying an agonizing death from ovarian cancer (like I said -- uplifting). The thing is -- she's younger than me, not even 30. So I'm sitting and reading this book on the subway after a nice night out with Jess and get to the part where the dying sister is regretting the things she didn't do ("I never saw Paris." -- for real, she says that.) I thought Do I have to wait to be dying to do the things I want to do? And what would I regret not doing if I found out I was?

Then I saw a movie trailer for "The Bucket List" - about two terminally ill men escaping a cancer ward together to do the things they want to accomplish before they die. Again, why do we only realize we need to do things in life before facing the end of it?

I'm a terrible procrastinator. Terrible. There are plenty of things I want/need to do. I really need to clean my shower. I need to upload about a thousand photos onto my computer and post them. I need to change my sheets. I need to figure out what I want to do with my life. This is obviously the most important.

I don't know what I'm good at so I don't know what to do. I am terrified of getting sucked into some sort of soulless, non-creative job and hating my life because of it. Which is, well, pretty much what I've done. Okay, that's not true - I like my job, the people I work with. It's just not where I thought I'd end up at this age and I don't know what to do. My parents have been bugging me for 3 years to find something else. Anything else. With benefits and vacation time.

But, I don't know where to go -- I don't want to go back to being an assistant again unless it's definitely for a career I really want. I also really like photography - my vision, my work. I love seeing people use my pictures on myspace. I hope to get published sometime this year. But I think I'm so worried that I'm not any good at it, that it's a self-fulfilling prophesy and I'm not chasing it like I should. I am thinking about going into either publishing or advertising (I guess?) but I don't know anything about either. Unless of course I could actually find work as a photographer.

So back to the fictional cancer-stricken 29 year old. What would I regret not doing if I found out I had no time left. Sure, I'd probably regret not breeding while I had the chance. I regret not finding love. I regret feeling so mired in my own fear of mediocrity that I don't take risks. Talk about self-destructive behavior...

But mostly? I would regret not seeing more of this gorgeous planet.

I was at my most confident when I trekked off to Brazil for two weeks in 2005. "Why would you want to travel by yourself?" I was asked. "Why Brazil?" Why not? I'd like to go back, but there's this whole world I haven't seen and very little time to see it.

So I thought, What am I waiting for exactly?

Originally, I planned to travel to Thailand in February 2005. I started research, chose sites to visit, contacted my good friend Gavin who has a home there. However, the morning after Christmas 2004, as we sat down to a pancake breakfast with various aunts, uncles and Grandma, my father said, "Mo, you might want to rethink the Thailand trip." "Why?" I asked. He gestured at a television screen suspended in the corner of the restaurant, tuned to CNN with "Breaking News!" slashed in red all over it. "Because it's not there anymore," says Dad. The tsunami had struck, killing thousands. So I switched gears after a certain amount of obsession with watching the tsunami news (I just know, had I been there, sitting on the beach, I would have definitely been one of the folks who went to check out the exposed reefs from the retreating water. I'm sure of it. It would never occur to me that was bad news) and booked a flight to Brazil instead.

Now, it's time to try it again. Only instead of 2 weeks -- I'm thinking four months. And not just just Thailand -- I want to see China, Japan & India. Possibly Tibet and Nepal too.

So here we are, the start of something. I don't know what it is yet. I'm gathering information. nothing's set in stone obviously. But it feels good to have a goal.

You'll have to excuse me though, I have just started putting together a list of things to take with me and I'll be heading to the gym tonight as I am gonna need some serious upper body strength to pull this one off.

Update: The only thing to stop me right now is if my job offered me some major incentives to stay. And so far they just keep pushing me out the door.

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