Tuesday, June 25, 2019

And That's OK

We're out on the patio. Skylar is studying. He decided to pursue a masters degree in the summers because apparently he's not sufficiently exhausted by medical school. This seems insane to me, but he's young so he can probably handle it.

I'm exhausted enough for the both of us. I've been working nights and weekends for much of the year. I'm supposed to be up for partner at my firm later this summer. How did I get that old? Wasn't I just sitting on a bed in my shared room in college creating a blog on my 15-pound laptop so I could tell my family what I was up to?

A few weeks ago I started crying in my office for absolutely no reason. It was 11:00 PM and I just started crying. And then I started laughing because I wasn't sure why I was crying. Then I packed up my stuff and drove home.

Skylar was studying when I got there. He was sitting on the couch, Duncan curled up next to him. It was strange how guilty I felt to just be getting home. I never used to feel that way when there was nothing waiting for me at home. I had gotten really used to nothing waiting for me at home.

We went to bed, and slept hard, waking up the next morning to do it all again.

I wondered that day if I was wasting my life doing things that made me feel exhausted. I thought about the same quandary I've considered a hundred times before. What am I actually accomplishing? Am I failing? Am I helping people? Am I helping my family? Am I helping myself?

Am I just wasting my life doing things that made me feel exhausted to no end?


I thought about those people who die doing what they love. Am I ever going to be one of those people? If I died now, would people say I died doing what I loved? What does that actually mean?

Maybe it doesn't matter that I don't love every minute, or that I don't feel competent every minute, or that I don't feel like I'm actually accomplishing something every minute. I'm supporting my little family--a truly sweet man and a little dog who I'm not embarrassed to say feels very much like my own human baby--especially since it's so hard for me to get my own little human baby. I would really like to have my own human baby.

Maybe supporting my little family so it can be safe and secure and happy and doing what it loves is enough of a purpose that it's ok that I may not be accomplishing much more than fights with opposing counsel and billing clients who are relying on me to get impossible results. Maybe it's enough that I care. Maybe it's just enough that I'm trying, even if not always accomplishing. Or maybe it's not? Maybe I'm not cut out for this?

Skylar is tossing the ball for Duncan while staring into his iPad. A candle is lit between us. It's supposed to repel the bugs--the kind that bite. It's blowing smoke in every direction. I'm not sure it's working. We light it every night while we sit out here and write and work and study until bedtime and I still have bug bites up and down my arms. Maybe all it does is blow smoke.

I'll write. I'll write this. He'll study that. Eventually we'll go to bed, and then we'll get up and do it again. We'll be grateful. We'll be tired. We'll feel guilty when we complain that we're tired because it might mean we're not grateful enough. We should really be more grateful.

Hopefully we won't feel too stressed that we don't have all the answers--that we don't know whether we're doing the right things--that we don't know whether we're ever supposed to have all the answers.

Hopefully we'll remember to breathe a little.

Hopefully we'll remember to be happy to have one another.

Hopefully we'll remember that we don't have to be perfect to be proud of ourselves.

Hopefully we'll remember that to be unsure is human, and that's ok.




~It Just Gets Stranger

20 comments:

  1. Eli, I cannot tell you how many times I've thought about all these things. As I'm building a business right now, and being mentored by millionaires (which is incredible to me and I am learning what it really means to let someone mentor you), I am learning just how we are raised and wired to 1)go to school 2) get a job 3) hope that that job will take care of us and our families. That is all we are taught. And we just go ahead and do it. And while we should be grateful for jobs and for doctors, and lawyers, and everyone who serves the public, that is NOT all there is. But, because we don't know where to look for something different, or we don't think we can actually accomplish BIG things or we don't believe we deserve them, we continue to do what we've been told to do.
    If you ever have the opportunity to ask someone who has made it big, like an entrepreneur, how they built that, trust me, it will not be what the majority of us have been doing our entire lives.
    You can live a life where most of your time is spent with the ones you love the most. Where you don't need to depend on a job to survive. It IS possible. And you totally deserve it. It's all about changing that lifelong mentality most of us grew up with. In the meantime, keep loving and learning and being as amazing as you are.
    As a child of immigrants, I have realized that they come to this country believing that they have to work their butts off to be successful. Then time happens, and you realize that the size of your home or how successful your career was is nothing compared to what you created, maintained, and strengthened with your loved ones. And you don't need to "love" what you do. As long as it's ethical and honest, you can build a business - create an asset to generate you continuous cash flow - so that you can then, sooner than later, live the life you love.

    Best of luck to you and Skylar!

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  2. You just used up all the deep and profound in the world, so I have nothing to add, but I will say what we have all been saying for years: the Strangers are so lucky to have you. (Amy Rose)

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  3. Juventud, divino tesoro, (Youth, divine treasure,)
    ¡ya te vas, para no volver! (Already leaving, never to return!)
    Cuando quiero llorar, no lloro... (When I want to cry, I don't cry...)
    Y a veces lloro sin querer... (and sometimes I cry without wanting...)
    ¡Mas es mía el Alba de oro! (And yet, the golden Dawn is mine!)
    - Ruben Dario

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  4. I just saw a Humans of New York post about a woman who felt like she fell into a career path that wasn’t her passion, but she was content and happy in her contentedness. She didn’t live paycheck to paycheck, she could afford to travel and pursue her passions off the clock.

    And that’s the reality for so many of us. It isn’t realistic for everyone to make a living following their passion. I don’t believe most people truly have a single passion in the first place.

    Our work doesn’t define us. No single aspect of life can possibly define an individual. To simplify someone is a real tragedy.

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    1. This. Your job is not necessarily your passion - it can instead give you what you need to pursue your passion.

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  5. "Maybe all it does is blow smoke." Beautiful subtle analogy.

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  6. Every time I think about dying doing what I love, this is all I can think about:

    https://i.pinimg.com/originals/ea/80/c4/ea80c46eb60835506275a8df3372bc0a.jpg

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  7. Well. Thanks for that. It's 11:30AM and now I'm crying in my office. I feel guilty getting home late from work only to stay up until the wee hours doing school work so I can eventually have a job that makes me feel like I'm doing more than just paying the bills. So I get it but I certainly wasn't expecting it to be echoed back to me in such a magnificent fashion today! (You're welcome to borrow my human child. I'm not sure he would fetch a ball as often as Duncan but he can tell you all about the Marvel Cinematic Universe...)

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  8. I have a husband and my own human babies, but I don't have the love you have, and I am both jealous and so, so happy for you to have it. I don't know, but I think you're doing it right. Love to you all.

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  9. I think it's okay, and even healthy to look intensely at your life sometimes. Look at what is making you happy and look at what is making you feel overwhelmed/underappreciated/unfulfilled, etc. At some point, you liked your area of practice enough to pursue it. Maybe you're just in a valley right now given the load both of you are carrying, or maybe it's something stronger pulling you out of something that truly is not fulfilling to you. I've never believed the saying "If you truly love what you do, you will never work a day in your life". At some point, no matter what, you may not feel like doing your passion at that exact moment. That's okay. The big question is, overall, is your life fulfilling? The beauty of law is that you have so many areas of practice. While it might feel like starting over, the beauty is, it might feel like starting over. OR you could just be having a bad day, and if that's the case, you should have ice cream for dinner and binge watch Netflix.

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  10. I am almost embarrassed to ask this, especially after that very vulnerable post, but I have to know why...slippers...in Summer? Again, I apologize, I just couldn't take my eyes off them.

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  11. Thank you for this. Much of how I feel is expressed here so much more eloquently than I ever could.

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  12. Sometimes we are all just doing the best we can, and we might not be sure if it is the best, but we keep trying. Don't take the joy for granted, but don't feel guilty for not always appreciating it. Everyday life can be overwhelming, and hard, and sometimes it sucks. But that doesn't mean that you don't love it. Sometimes it's the love in your life that makes the hard stuff worth it. And gives you that safe space to vent about the hard stuff.

    I hope you get a human baby one day. You and Skylar will be wonderful parents, Duncan will love being a brother, and selfishly I can't wait to read your blog posts about parenting.

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  13. i can’t really find adequate words to describe my love for this post so *heart emoji* *heart emoji* *heart emoji*

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  14. Don't read Michelle Obama's book. Skylar will be president one day...

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  15. I wrote a novella in response to this post. Then I held the backspace button and deleted it. TL;DR version is that the answer to all of your questions is "yes." Yes, it's enough that you have a truly sweet man and a little dog that you take care of. Yes, it's a good use of your time to make that possible. Yes, sometimes life is working until 11 p.m. and crying a little and laughing a little and then sleeping hard and getting up and doing it all again the next day. Yes, being human is having hope, and remembering to appreciate love, and breathing, and being unsure. All of it! You're doing a great job, Eli.

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  16. I know this post has been up for awhile, but I am just reading it. And actually the day it was posted, I was interviewing for an opportunity that fell in my lap that would require I move across the country. There's pros and cons to either situation, but I am so happy I read this for: "Hopefully we'll remember that to be unsure is human, and that's ok."
    Makes me feel even better about my probably decision to stay put because loved ones are far greater than a ton of money and definitely not a dream job.

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