Friday, June 6, 2014

Chasing Pirates

I've recently started watching this Youtube series called "The New Adventures of Peter + Wendy," a retelling of Peter Pan in modern day, and I'm thoroughly enjoying it (I have been and am becoming even more so a sucker for anything Peter Pan). The most recent posted video was incredibly poignant and well-timed for me so I'm sharing it here and writing about it's relevance to my twentysomething life:

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.
Unfortunately for those who want the world to be more planned - and I'm not entirely outside this category by any means - I find myself wanting some stability, some security, but a whole bunch of time to do random, spontaneous things. For the last eight years of my life, I've been in a set schedule of classes and routines, of trying to attain a specific goal (expensive pieces of paper aka: graduation), and supposedly doing career planning - though it's kind of hard to plan a career when you don't really know what's out there). Now that I do have a semi-plan, I feel a little more secure and I lot more spontaneous. Did I buy theater tickets for Richard III? Yep. Am I going to buy tickets for Hamlet? If I am lucky enough to get them (and that's a bit if), yes. This may cause me deserved hate. I feel almost embarrassed to admit that I'm going to be traveling again to see theater shows, but at the same time, I keep thinking about all the people who told me to travel while I'm young, while I have the luxury and ability to do it, before I have huge commitments like a family or a mortgage or something (though whether I will ever have those things is questionable).

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.
Somehow, I'm not terrified about the future right now - probably because I have a place to crash next year while I figure things out, a busy promising week coming up that might actually result in moving forward both theater-wise and day job-wise (*fingers crossed*), and enough world traveling planned to drown any lingering sorrow. Also Target Headquarters messed up payroll so for a brief moment in time, so tomorrow I will get paid double (at least until they fix the error) but... you know, I can imagine what it would be like if I did get that bonus (hey, fault's on you guys; just this once can we keep it?). I'm just happy that I've realized that I need a little bit of impulsiveness and childishness in my life. If I take myself too seriously - as I have for much of my college days - I'll burn myself out. After doing little but school work and more school work in my college days, I feel like living a little.

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.)

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