Monday, February 9, 2015

Vocation, Commitment, and Making a Life

I've never wanted "technical writer" written on my tombstone. But frequently over the last five years of driving 70 miles each way to work in Washington, D.C., that has felt like the direction my life was going. It was a decision I made to make a better living, to make more money than I could on the Eastern Shore. I don't regret it. I am thankful to have had those opportunities. I have been grateful for every job I have had. Any complaint I could levy fully falls under first world problems. Quit your bellyaching and go to work.

But D.C. and technical writing left me twice in a lurch. Reeling and trying to figure out what would come next. And for better or worse, I am an introspective idealist; a day dreamer. I've never cared for the status quo, and I've never wanted to show up to work to punch a clock and collect a paycheck. I've always wanted to do something with my professional life, my vocation. At one point I thought that would be as a college philosophy professor. Then I fell into museums and cultural organizations. There is something about working for an organization whose mission pushes for cultural, social, or civic causes that finger the heart strings. And then there is this whole writing thing, which has been wrapped up in one of my life's great passions since I was 14.

I want work to be meaningful, both in general and for me. But I am also a father to two wonderful daughters, for whom I need to provide. I wrestled with trying to continue driving four-to-five hours a day for a bigger paycheck, coming home beat and beat down. Or to try to make a better life, rather than just a better living; a way to be creative, to be a part of the community, to make things happen and to make a difference.

I have that opportunity when I start later this month as Executive Director of the Oxford Community Center (OCC) in Oxford, Md. It is a professional homecoming to the Eastern Shore, It is a chance to re-connect, re-engage the community I love and where I have grown up and always lived. It is a chance to help guide an organization poised to take big steps toward anchoring the word "community" for a growing audience. It is a seven mile commute, not a 70 mile commute, a commute I will do by bike sometimes in the summer, and even by stand-up paddleboard here and there.

This blog is a place to talk about life more than making a living. So that is what I will stick with here. Working back on the Shore is also, and foremost, a commitment to my daughters, to have time with them, instead of spending that time driving. It is evenings playing catch with lacrosse sticks or Nerf wars with the sun still up; it is a weekday evening with ice cream in the park. It is opening my heart and soul instead of hardening them. It is finding happiness and being the father the girls deserve in their lives.

OCC is also an opportunity to walk closer to my dreams. I have heard Jim Carey in my head frequently this winter using his father's example, saying, "You can fail at what you DON'T want, so you might as well take the chance on doing what you love."

This is also a conscious decision to commit to my writing. To using the time I am getting back each day and the time when I don't have the girls, to make more happen with writing for magazines, for websites, and taking on writing projects to try to make a name as a writer. Dreams are no better than idle thoughts unless I try to make them real.

The past few months I've been living closer to my heart (cue the Rush song). I've been looking and feeling more deeply. I've been connecting in ways that I had forgotten. Love, family, vocation, dreams. Re-connecting to heart and soul and life. Not just making a better living, but making a better life.


GoodTaste14 said...

Outstanding. Congrats V!

Anonymous said...

A simple "congrats" doesn't really do this justice. This is more like reaching a mountaintop, or at least base camp for the next stage of the climb. I wish you all the things I know that you seek; the peace of action, the love of family, the calm *boom of enlightenment, the joy of a well-turned phrase, the glory of a perfect song. I envy and salute you, friend. Excelsior!