Monday, May 25, 2009

career vs. a life

everyday i change my mind. tonite a career seems best.

what is 'a career?' first of all, it has to be a focused education. our civilization rewards experts. true, the economic changes can put you out of business. if you created articles of pewter, you can pretty much forget it, though a modern love of dragons, wizards, and dolphins has brought the mode back. still, it isn't what it used to be. given this, the expert, having learned how to be an expert, can re-tool, educate him or herself again.

of course, i don't mean simply college. golf, air-conditioning, gun-running, anything can become a career, dedication and single-mindedness do the rest.

and the rewards, in a worldly sense, can be enormous: fame, fortune, a name in the record books. most of all, you avoid the ambiguities, the messiness of human love, the uncertainties of emotional satisfaction. ah, you will experience them, however you've got an escape hatch, an escape clause.

i remember a writer visiting benny buffano, the sculptor, in his old age. the artist, eager to finish his life's work, ignored his daughter, also in residence. the scribe thought this cruel, insensitive, and outrageous. tonite, i consider buffano to have been wise. yet, i just heard an hour ago a friend's daughter had committed suicide. from my experience, she must have been very angry.

not to say my friend at fault. no parent can really be held responsible. our world is a dangerous place, from within ourselves and from without. and i don't know the facts. however i do know a parent losing a child the most devestating experience possible.

and it may be even worse if you've depended upon 'a life' instead of a career. what is a life? i would say, a constant adventure, a renewed sense of direction, a risk that human relationships will ultimately satisfy you. instead of focus, you have a field. you walk around india, you've five children, you change jobs whenever you're bored. you search for a sense of fullness, to realize every dream, every potential, even if imperfectly, and this is a given.

personally, i don't know where i lie. yesterday i began my forty-seventh season as a fire lookout. does that qualify as a career? certainly it's a limitation, but one without advancement. i did travel for forty years, writing all kinds of stuff, mainly thinking of myself as a poet. however, i never published except now on the web. discovering people wouldn't read what i wrote, i turned to photography. people will look at photographs. i just ran across a book maintaining the future belongs to the right-brainers, the visual.

hmm, i do consider myself an expert play-doctor and theater director. these i did learn and can do. hah, and now i don't do them! talk about sabatoging a career! that i certainly know how to do. that said, do the rewards and recognition determine a career? perhaps, yes, you have to have it confirmed, you've written a masterpiece, you've won kentucky derby.

what a mix-up! i would say i haven't sought satisfaction through relationships, considering them unstable and unreliable. a writer friend, david helton, once told me in greece, 'focus on your work, that you have control over.' but without my friends and co-workers, i'd walk down to the cliff and jump. having read much about self-destruction, i know a desperate feeling of isolation is the one constant .

i have such mixed emotions at graduation. here are this year's pictures:

is it the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end?

and at the county fair, mainly a working-class event, i wonder what kinds of couples are most happy? so often it seems to be when husband and wife fulfill what we consider to be traditional roles.

blindness, a feeling of security, pure luck. whether it's a career, or a life, it's a crap-shoot.