I’m going back to work. On October 17th, for the first time in two years, I’ll be back in offices. I am very pleased.
As we all know, in news wholly unrelated except by timing, Steve Jobs died this week. I am very sorry for his family’s loss.
I imagine the rest of us are sad for the imagined trajectory, for events he had yet to bring about, ideas he had yet to put forth. He probably wasn’t done yet, despite all his accomplishments.
One of Jobs’ quotations has been much mentioned.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
Despite our cultural mutterings, in which we – en masse – imagine chucking our routines to become heroes like Steve, I don’t think Mr. Jobs should be understood to mean Go Big Or Go Home. Or that we all need to drop out of college and head to Tibet. Even if that’s what he did mean, when he spoke. Reading Steve’s speeches we might suppose that happiness requires a life lived against the current, but that will depend. Exhortations to do what we cannot are just as damaging as orders to do what we love not.
Another quotation, this time by Mary Oliver, has also been seen about.
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?”
The words “wild” and “precious” conflict. The terms cannot resolve, which leaves us in a state of yearning. We feel that the answer to life must be just out of reach. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.
For some of us, going to work is the point. The word “wild” bring rivers to mind, running through songs and other narrative, but rivers are often quite constrained by rock. Rock, strata, sediment. I have always loved geological terms. Igneous, porous, feldspar. Some stories are told over very long periods of time.
I will not abandon the blog. Far too much fun, far too satisfying. I envision two posts during the week, and one on Saturdays. It’s quite possible that the India series will move to Saturdays, and therefore occasionally replace the usual morning analysis. Dressing Well Without Chanel will continue, along with Polyvores, and the occasional gee whiz I like this piece of clothing I saw.
And to be accountable, that book proposal draft will be finished tomorrow. As I promised myself. I advocate acceptance, not giving up.
It’s wonderful to be 55 and going back to work. Planning my return has spun up semi-dormant parts of my brain. It turns out that when you do something over and over, what’s learned is not forgotten. And when you return to old problems, you can approach them more gracefully. There’s a wildness in knowing what you’re doing. Think of rapids, and you’re not far off.
We can ask ourselves just as well, what do we plan to do with our limited lives, as they stretch across the universe? We don’t need wild, or precious, because any oxymoron can remind us to yearn.
I was surprised to hear, in the recording of Mary Oliver’s poem, that she also says,
“I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down/into the grass”
If I could only, ever, give one piece of advice, it would be to pay attention. Time is short, but it’s very vivid. Here’s to Tibet, and getting back on the bicycle.