How do you stay young when the world just wants to age you? How do you plan love? These lines hit me harder than Thor's hammer and have been the very things I've been pondering for the last year and half or so. The bit about the five year plan is a little too relevant right now - I've been job searching and applying and mulling over possible interview questions and, of course, this is one that's often asked (though I've never received it in an interview). I always used to hear it as ten years, but I think they toned it down to five (probably got tired of people answering as I would - "Not dead." Though if you asked me where I want to be in five years, that'd still be my answer). For some people, the answer is very clear to what they want to be doing in five years - working at X company, doing Y thing, living in Z place. Whether it will happen or not isn't relevant - what is relevant is that they can see vividly and clearly what they want. But I've never had this clarity. Where they see a highly contrasted, elegantly composed Caravaggio work, I see the future as a Van Gogh painting. There's bright patches and forms, but it's not totally fleshed out the way other plans are. There's a lot of swirls and splotches and movement.
This is giving myself more form and composition, actually, because usually my plans look far more like a Jackson Pollack painting. It's not that I don't plan, it's that planning, especially in high detail, rarely works out for me. Perhaps it's the community I'm in, perhaps it's the jobs I have, but I've learned to create loose, flexible plans so that if the worst or the best happens, I can adapt. Generally, this is a useful skill (given that I am actually flexible and don't collapse into a flailing heap), but the corporate world is full of doublespeak (to use an Orwell term for it). Opposing concepts at embraced and expected to be both easily used. One is meant to be flexible yet rigid, regimented yet open for whatever comes one's way. Which is, as you probably already know, really difficult.
This leads me to another question - was there a time when people were allowed to do weird transition-y stuff after college? I grew up hearing about how graduates went on backpacking trips through Europe, joined the Peace Corps, took some quirky job, not because they had to, but because they wanted to or because they needed time to decompress after the dense and intense time. Maybe not everyone needs this transitive state - some people handle the stress better than others, some have rather less stressful experiences - but it worries me that the acceptance of this period seems pretty low. Expectations of getting a job right out of college seem very high and appear to engulf everything else - high unemployment will do that, I suppose. There are more options between getting a job and living in your parents' basement right out of school and, while we know this, I don't think there's a lot of discussion and support towards other options. Honestly, working retail has been one of the best learning experiences of my life, and exactly what I needed to move from college to whatever is coming next. But I don't want it to stop there. I want to move on to a new job, yes, but I still have a need to breath, to figure out a little bit more of who I've become after some of the most formative, exploratory years of my life. There's this Norah Jones song called "Chasing Pirates" and the song title feels apt to my mindset - I'm looking for something sort of romanticized, I'm being a bit reckless, but what I'm following does have a real, tangible root. I've got direction, just not clarity as to where I'm going to end up. Maybe my youth and naivete are showing, but I don't think this is a bad thing at all. I don't know everything, I don't have a lot of experience, the road ahead looks like an M.C. Esher print - and it's beautiful.
So what's my five year plan? Who can say? But it'll be an adventure. Now let's go chase some pirates.
(BTW, I own this t-shirt. It's the best.)