I’m sitting here surrounded by a lifetime of collectibles. It started from a place where I was looking for the fourth leg of a three legged chair and for some reason I was convinced it might be at the bottom of the box all these things are in.
It was not.
What is in the box is countless pieces of memorabilia. TIcket stubs to events I’ve attended (concerts, festivals, derby bouts, plays, museums), postcards and birthday cards, metro maps and cemetery plans, stickers, photographs, letters, notes, my writings, brochures, art, festival bracelets and passes, all kinds of things that remind me of places I’ve been, people I’ve loved, music I’ve delighted in, times and moments and reminders that I have had copious and joyful adventures.
It all makes me smile.
I want more. I want adventures and sunrises and conversations with people I haven’t met yet. I don’t want to be tied to any one place, any one ideal, any one hat.
I had a conversation with someone I’ve come to respect and trust recently. We talked about the future, about the things I want to do and the best way for me to do those things. I keep coming back around to having skills that will pay me the money I need to do more than get by. I’ve long railed against the notion that I’m in it for the money. I’ve argued that I don’t need much, I can live with just getting by if it means that I’m doing good work with good people.
I’m tired of just getting by. I’ve done what’s easy for a very long time. I’ve stumbled into various scenarios and done pretty well, due in part to really good people taking a chance on me and just as equally due to my own ability to be awesome when it’s called for.
Those times when I felt best about what I was doing were those times when I proved myself capable, though not necessarily without help. There are relatively few people who are really good at something the first time they do it. It takes instruction and patience and a willingness to learn. And there are things I’ve done that I was really good at and others that I’m merely passable.
I think I’ve ground myself a rut of complacency when it comes to taking a step towards earning money because of this ideal I have about not needing stuff. Why would I need money when I don’t desire stuff? Money is for people who are caught up in owning things. Yeah, I need a little bit to pay rent, buy food, put gas in the truck, keep the lights on. Anything more than that and I’m just being greedy. Of course it’s nice to have a cushion, to have something tucked away in case of emergency dental, being out of commission, unforeseen car repair.
I’m not wholly convinced that my “I don’t require much in the way of money to be happy” while true on one level, on another might just be a form of that old and not so dear friend low self-esteem/captain self sabotage. Who’s to say that I don’t deserve to get paid a whack of cash for services rendered? I recently discovered when I made a half-assed attempt to start my own pathway/ambient festival lighting installation company that I severely undervalue myself. Not only did I have no idea what to charge, I found myself really uncomfortable with even suggesting what I might be worth. I think this is fairly common though. Why get paid what you’re worth when you can undervalue yourself and gain a reputation for working for free? And have the added bonus of being totally stressed when it’s time to pay rent and you have no money whatsoever!!! It gets old fast. So I’m coming to terms with the reality that I not only need money to get by, I want to do more than get by and I’ve got skills that could be improved upon and enable me to do things I dream of doing.
When I was younger, I had very little consideration of the future. It’s a place somewhere further along where I’ll have established myself as (insert some awesome thing here) and have (same again) and live (ahem…yes) and travel to (haven’t been there yet)….and so on and so forth. This lovely future perfect that I never really considered because at some point, it would show up. Or I would just get there. I don’t know when or how but in the meantime I’ll just keep trucking along my merry way and check out whatever adventure happens to come along. Which works just fine as a perspective until it doesn’t. And it kinda doesn’t anymore.
I don’t know if it’s any clearer for people who have kids. Yes, your future is right there, staring at you with tiny eyes that take in everything. But does that give the distant horizon any more focus than before? I have no idea. I don’t have kids. I can’t speak to that experience at all.
It’s not that I want my future laid out in front of me so I can follow along like some weird fate karaoke song. I like the surprise. But there’s nothing wrong with stacking the deck a bit, to better enable a potential future that might be filled with delight.
I know I want to move. I was born to move. To travel, traverse, wander, amble, vagabond, voyage, explore, proceed in a peripatetic process. I love having a hidey hole, it’s delightful to be here in a tiny house in the forest surrounded by tiny lake and great neighbours like Totoro. I love having a space of my own where I can play the piano and write long winded blog posts that help my crazy active brain work itself out. I love having the leisure to spread out the experiences of my past and find joy in the moments I’ve shared. But I want more.
These feet are itchy, this brain is restless, these eyes want to see the world. These feet want to tango in cities I never dreamed I would dance. I want to dive beneath waves in every ocean, taking as a given that I am equipped with proper dive gear and suited appropriately. I don’t just want to go splashing around in the arctic, let’s not be silly. I want ink on my body to represent my connection to the entire world. I want to spend at least a couple of months every year surfing in the morning, eating fresh local food in the afternoon, dancing all evening and making sweet freaky love to someone who engages my mind just as righteously as my body all night long. And then I want to wake up and do it again. Somewhere different every year.
I was asked, where do I see myself in 10 years? I’ll be 48. Do I still want to be having months where I am struggling to pay rent? Where I am wondering if I can afford to get that tooth that’s rotting in the back of my mouth and likely making me sick with blood poisoning removed because I sure as hell don’t have enough to fix it? Where I am cruising the internets, checking out the cost of flights, of hotels, of surf trips and car rentals and knowing that I can’t afford any of it? Where I am living in someone else’s house, which is currently for sale and there’s no guarantee that I’ll be able to stay once it’s sold?
Hell no. I don’t want any of that. I don’t want it now but even though I was asked the question when I was 28, I didn’t consider the consequences of the answer. When someone asked me (it was Jeff, he was sitting on Soo-z’s couch at the time) where I saw myself in 10 years, I said, “I’m going to be a lighting tech for Cirque du Soleil!” And that was it, that was the only amount of effort I put into that future perfect. Not true. I applied online with them, with my “I’ve never made a resume before but I have every confidence you’ll hire me because you’ll be able to tell how amazing I am from the other side of a computer screen so I won’t really make much effort at all….” and they came back with, ‘call us when you have more experience.’
Did I pursue a theatre tech diploma? Work my butt off gaining experience so I could flush out my resume and impress the hell out of them? Get way better at french so I could operate with ease within a bi-lingual company? Work on getting my rigging ticket?
In case you’re struggling with this, the answer to these questions is no. I did none of these things. I decided it was beyond my something. My desire? My ability? It totally wasn’t. So why didn’t I do it? I don’t know right now. I was too busy waiting for whatever thing was going to show up and be easy to come along, perhaps. Sure I was good at lighting, sure I really really liked it. But not enough to actually work at it. That makes me sound so freaking lazy. Maybe I am. I work hard when I need to, but if there’s nothing that needs doing? I’m happy to not do it. Is that lazy?
To be honest, at the time, I didn’t really consider all the ins and outs of what I might need to do to ensure success. Perhaps it’s this entitlement bullshit that I sometimes fall prey to. I’m good at it, I deserve it, you should give it to me. Why should you give it to me? Because I want it? How bad do I want it? Pretty bad. What do you mean I can’t have it now? That I might have to work and study and do some other stuff before I can have it? Pffff, that’s bullshit. I’ll find something else, something easier.
There’s the crux of it. If I had truly wanted it, I might have had to go to school for however long it takes to get a technical theatre diploma and get some other gigs under my belt, make myself really attractive. There was every possibility that I could have been a lighting tech for cirque du soleil by now. But I had this pigheaded notion that I deserved it then. I didn’t.
So now, I’m in a place where I still want the same things I wanted when I was 28. I want to travel, to do hands on practical work that makes me feel useful and is a broad enough skill set that I don’t have to do the same thing every day. I want to earn enough that I can travel, that I can afford to fix my teeth, that I can maybe buy a little place of my own to come home to after the adventures, maybe have a shop with power and tools and space to refurbish and fix up old buses and trucks into alternative powered caravans to carry the circus folk I befriend hither and yon.
Where do I see myself in 10 years? Having 5 years of working as a red seal heavy duty mechanic under my belt, working for good people at an ethical company that pays me well. Part of the way to owning a small property near water, preferably surf. Spending my spare time building gypsy caravans for travelers, writing, playing music, watching the sun set from my porch. Traveling two-three months out of every year. That’s just a general picture. I’ll work on getting it as detailed as possible in the next few days. Because now that I know where I want to be in 10 years, it’s just as important to work out all the points between then and today so I don’t end up in a place 12 years from now, writing a blog about I could’ve been a marine mechanic traveling the world with the sea shepherds but I decided it was too much work. Of course it’s fucking work! Does anything worth having come easily? (actually, I think there might be a few instances where that is true, but that does not lend itself to this narrative so I will not explore it in any depth tonight.) My future is my own to determine, I’m tired of being stressed, waiting for easy to show up in time to pay the rent.
If I start next September (I’ve already applied to VIU Nanaimo but am considering NIU in Campbell River as well), when I’m 39, I’ll have my foundation year of heavy duty mechanics at 40. I can find someone to apprentice me and if I work really hard and log the hours, I could be a red seal by the time I’m 43. That gives me 5 years to work my ass off and save money and be in a place where I have the freedom to travel as much as I want. 2 months of the year in a completely different place from the one before. And since I’m going to live to be 111, that gives me plenty of time to check out most everywhere.
So what the hell am I afraid of?
I must admit I have mild panicky moments when I think, am I really meant to be a mechanic? But I write? And play piano? Surely my field of expertise lies there? But seriously, who’s going to say I can’t do both? No one.
So again, what the hell am I afraid of?
Oh my gosh, I just checked out the job openings section of Cirque du Soleil for the sake of nostalgia and kinda looked over the lighting tech jobs, which I am totally underqualified for due to lack to technical theatre diploma, copious experience etc. But then I scrolled a little further down and behold!! What do touring shows rely on? BIG TRUCKS!! And who fixes big trucks? HEAVY DUTY MECHANICS!!!!!