3 on 3/16/18 vs. 19

Friday (3/16/18) was my three year anniversary at my job. It’s easy to remember the date, since it’s also my brother’s birthday.

A friend and coworker of mine, who shall remain nameless to respect privacy, had his 19 year anniversary about a week prior. It struck me what a different perspective the two milestones represent.

For my friend, not a notable event. He didn’t even realize it was his anniversary date until I mentioned it. I only knew because they post birthdays and work anniversary dates among other things on a bulletin board in the hall. I knew it wasn’t an exciting milestone for him and that he would rather be someplace else. I didn’t say this to him, because I totally get how he feels, but it is still an accomplishment. One shouldn’t beat themselves up for overstaying at a place where you’re comfortable instead of seeking new endeavors. Many people do it. There’s no shame in it. I support him in looking for something that utilizes his talents. He’s a good artist.

As for me, I’ve had five jobs in that time, and had a break from work for a while for medical reasons. The five jobs include the current one.  All of my past jobs paid very poorly. Not that I’m going to get rich at this one, but it’s better than where I was, and I get overtime.

So, when I look back three years, I’m thankful for where I am now. Although, I did get some good blog fodder at my last job, Assistant Manager at Family Dollar. (Check it out.) Mostly, I hated it, though. I had some great coworkers that made it bearable, and some nice regular customers. But, I couldn’t imagine doing 19 years there. So, I guess I know how my friend feels, or can imagine.

I remember feeling embarrassed telling people what I was doing at my 25th class reunion a few years ago, still at Family Dollar.  I quickly added that it was a stepping stone job every time I mentioned it. I was a top student in school. Of course, I know, I shouldn’t have been embarrassed. After all, they don’t know what led me there, or what I had to overcome.

Now, people say it sounds like a cool job when I tell them what I do. I don’t say that it’s actually really tedious. I do microfilming of material, mostly newspapers, for preservation. I started in the digital department doing Quality Assurance, then digital scanning of books, documents, slides, etc. I’ve also done prep for the microfilm department. So, I haven’t even done the same thing day in and day out for the three years I’ve been there. It went fast, and yet many days seem to crawl by.

I have no intention of being in my friends place 16 years from now. If I am, I’ll ask him to give me a good kick in the ass. He’ll understand. But seriously, I hope to write my way out of there.

It’s good motivation to write, when I think how it got to be three years already, and how unhappy I’d be if I hit nineteen years.  I don’t think that will happen though. I know I was put on this earth for a reason, and I intend to fulfill it.

I’ll look for inspiration and use my determination and talent to be the man God meant me to be. Life is what you make it, right? I feel like I’m giving myself a pep talk, but I hope you may benefit from my words. Maybe you’re happy in your job, or retired, but we all have dreams. Dare to pursue them, and take any help you can get along the way, because we’re all in this together.

The art of discipline

A thought came to me years ago which still challenges me greatly.  “The disciplined artist succeeds.”

I mean artist in the broad sense of the word.  Writer, musician, painter, photographer, filmmaker, etc.  I also mean those who engage in artistic activities, not just those who make a living at it.  An artist at heart.

I think most of us tend to be indulgent sorts, sometimes overly so.  Partying, experimenting, addictions.  Artists need and want to experience things in order to reproduce some part of life in their work.  That can lead to trouble.  I just quit smoking last October, and hit the bottle pretty hard for a while about four years ago.  Of course, these things aren’t unique to artists, but they can be more damaging to a creative soul.

But even if one doesn’t wander into more serious traps, it can still be very difficult to discipline oneself to stick to something to fruition.  I know it’s tough for me to finish one thing before moving on to another.  I switch from a short story to a screenplay to poetry.

It’s also a struggle to sit down and write.  Maybe writers are the worst. “I hate writing, I love having written.”  says Dorothy Parker.   I personally can find a million things to do before writing.  It’s why my evenings after work get away from me, night after night, week after week for months and years.  I remember reading in a textbook for a writing class at community college in which the author admonished the reader that it’s possible to think of yourself as a writer your whole life and never actually achieve it.  It won’t happen to me.  That was my reaction.  A fervent and immediate reaction.  I’m 45 and it hasn’t happened yet.  Fortunately, I’ve got this discipline thing down.  Ha! I kill me. Anyway,  I’m working on it.

I’ve realized that discipline is a demanding mistress.  It doesn’t like to share.  The times that I’ve gotten the most done are when I’m on a whole life discipline kick.  I start working out, quit smoking, getting up when the alarm goes off,  being on time and writing.  It feels good and keeps you going.  If you recognize your triggers that make you slack off, nip it in the bud!  When one area slides, others will follow down that slippery slope.

Discipline gets you from inspiration to completion.

Ever have a great idea that you can’t wait to get started on, but once you get it started, you get bogged down in the details.  It’s frustrating when that spark of elation turns into, well, work.  Keep pushing through it.  It will be worth it.  I hope to see you at the finish line.  Maybe I’ll be waiting for you.  Maybe you’ll be waiting for me.  Here’s to the race.