Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Doing Things Over Again

Today at work, during one of the most doldrummiest moments of an overwhelmingly doldrummery day, right at the most tedious section of a long patch of… tediosity, a co-worker asked me, “If you could do things over again, what would you do? Would you go to school?”
Well, my first thought was that I DID go to school.
I studied theology full time between the ages of 23 and 27.
At the end of it [1991] I received a degree which I am not at all utilizing in my current career of Purgatorial Slave©.
And now, at the age of 43, [cue violins...] I feel that it is a bit late in the day to even consider returning to formal education and obtaining something more…. suitable for me. So the question itself only unnerved me.
But then I quickly realized that he asked about my doing things “over again”.
In the past. Not about doing them now.

So, my answer was definite. And quick.
I said, “Yes. I would go to school and study English and Literature. Become a teacher, either in a high-school or maybe something more like a professor in a college or something.”
Definitely this is what I would do, if I could do things over again.
But I can’t. No one can.
You can only do things right now… today. Tomorrow.
And for me, that means getting out of bed at 6:30 a.m. and driving my body to a job that is not only killing me physically, but is also sapping me of all of my strength and energy during the MINIMUM of ten or more hours that I am there, per day. ← I work to the absolute best of my ability, but every minute of doing so, I loathe and bemoan my current state.
My job is like being punished for something, and not knowing why.

I’m not whining, though it may seem so. I’m just being honest.
And I would like to know if anyone out there knows of anyone that “did things over again” when they were in mid-life or later. Or maybe [even better] that person was YOU!

Perhaps you might think, “Cippy-Boy, if you feel this strongly about your vocation in life, why didn’t you focus your goals in that direction twenty years ago?
Hmmm… mostly because I did not know my true vocation, way back then.
As with many things in life, one only knows now what one wishes one knew, then.
I now know that if I had become a teacher, I would be waking up tomorrow morning with a sense of purpose.
I would be happily driving to work.
And I would daily be the second-best teacher in the world!



Beth said...

You know, you could pursue that dream of teaching now rather than simply thinking about it in the world of "doing things over again."
And then you wouldn't have to live in the world of "if only."
I know change is hard, but I think you'd make a great English teacher/professor.
And you're still young!

patricia said...

Ditto what Beth said. I'd like to slap you upside the head right now if I could. I shoulda done it when I had the chance in the summer. I don't care HOW cute you are.

I'm not going to give you platitudes, Cippy, I'm going to tell you the truth, MY truth, MY experiences, and hope that somehow they inspire you, or for want of a better phrase, put a bloody blow torch under your ass and make you start working in the direction that will make you happy.

I was 36 when I went back to school study Graphic Design at Seneca College. I was 39 when I graduated. And it wasn't the first time I'd gone back to school as a mature student. I'd already gone back a couple years before that to study desktop publishing at George Brown College (that course was about 9 months long). And before that, I went back to school as a mature student in 1985 to study English at McMaster University, after just graduating from a two-year Library Techniques course from Sheridan College. While taking courses at McMaster I worked in the Thode Science Library, worked as a typesetter for the University newspaper and sold cartoons to make a few extra bucks. I lived very simply and was quite happy overall. For a variety of personal reasons I did not finish the English degree (much to my mother's disappointment), but who knows? I might finish it one day.

Each time I went back to school, yes, I felt terrified. I sure as hell felt OLD. Yup, there was always mostly young punks in all the various courses I took, but there was ALWAYS a few mature students that I could talk to, and relate to, thank goodness. And when I took the graphic design course? There was actually a woman who as older than ME!! She was over 40. So there. But who cares HOW old you are when you start? I'm proud of all the education I have acquired, and I have good memories overall of my time in school. And look at me! After all that education, what am I doing? I'm an illustrator and cartoonist! Do I think all that schooling was a waste? NO WAY.

Do I wish I could do things over if I had the chance? Sure, sometimes I do. But then I think about how much I benefited from being an older student when I went back to school each time. And others around me benefited from being with me, too, I think.

Ok. You're 43. Now unless you have some magic time machine that I don't know about, each year you will be one year older, and one year further away from doing anything new with your life. You will be miserable at work, spending most of the hours of YOUR LIFE doing something you hate. For what? Security? NOTHING in this life is secure. Tomorrow is promised to no one. So one thing you can be sure of, sweetie, is if you moan about your situation and do nothing, NOTHING will happen. And so 10 years from now, if someone asks you the same question, "If you could do your life over, what would you change" you will now be saying, "I wish I took the chance when I was 43 and went back to school."

Ok. End of lecture. You know I'm wagging my finger at you 'cuz I adore you and I know you can change your career if you really want to.

Hugs and kisses from me!

Anonymous said...

Think of your homie and how often he's changed gears, with a family to feed.
If you don't do it now, it's for lack of courage, self confidance or desire.
Which is it?

patricia said...

Me again, sweetie. I just read this blog post and thought of you!

stefanie said...

Cip, if you dream of being a teacher, go back to school and become a teacher! It's not too late. I'm 39 and just started grad school for library science. You are young yet, there is time and there is nothing worse than turning 90 and wishing you had done things differently. Do it! make the change, take a chance. If teaching is what your calling is then do it. It would be a shame and a waste of your talents if you did not follow what was in your heart to do.

SFP said...

What everyone one else has said. Go back to school, Cip. Don't stay in a job you hate.

cipriano said...

Terrific comments. Thank you, all.
All of you are so encouraging, I really don't know what to do. Decisions are SO not my forte!
I want to discuss this issue more, but must go to sleep because of my ALARM CLOCK!
-- Cip

Shark said...

I remember when I had a job similar to the one you discribed, so you know what I did? I left that place, and I couldn't be happier. Don't cop out by saying you are too old to do anything, because today is the first day of the rest of your life. Go out there and catch that rainbow.

Merisi said...

Darn, Cip, get to the web or phone NOW and get all the information you need to know about becoming a teacher. Look at the possibilities and then ACT! End the catharsis now. :-)

Merisi said...

I want to be invited to your graduation. I'll bring the cake.

Cleo said...

I'm on Patricia's team. It is NEVER too late to go back to school Cip. I’ll be 47 in just a couple of months. I began attending college part-time, all year round, in fall of 2005 (with 18 incoming credits) with a major in Philosophy and a minor in Women's Studies. I work full-time in an IT profession, have 3 teenagers still at home, freelance for the local newspaper, help care for a mom with stage 4 cancer and participate in my kids’ activities. I have 4.0 GPA and will graduate in May. I've already applied to graduate school to continue studying philosophy.

Granted, I don't sleep very much, but philosophy is what I LOVE, it inspires me, it makes me think, it makes me feel smart and capable when I grasp a concept or have an AH-HA moment. Life is so terribly short. Why, oh why, would you waste it being miserable? Because you are afraid? Because you are unsure of what road to take? Because you love living 130 feet in the air-in the corner? Because the bills must be paid and Jack must have beer and you must have coffee? Ok, fine. There are other jobs to be had that won't suck your life out through your pores-adjust your mode of living if you must-or is the life of your life of no importance to you?

I'm older than most of the profs and certainly the students-my oldest daughter is older than the grad students are for cryin' out loud. However, that's an advantage-I'm not in awe of them nor can any of them can intimidate me. I'm more motivated that most of the students, and I'm sure I learn more-because the plink...plink...plink...of those grains of sand falling to the bottom of my life clock are always just faintly sounding in my ears.

Through this bizarre media called the internet, you are a man who is my virtual friend, whose thoughts I know better than some of the people with whom I come into contact every day. You write beautifully and with passion, wit and insight. YOU could be that Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society inspiring young people to love literature and reading. YOU could turn them from their Cliffs Notes© and website cutting and pasting of book reports. When you think about it, you are actually harming future generations and the state of society by refusing to nurture your talents and share them with the students of tomorrow. You have within you the power to make a difference. Even if you make a difference in only ONE single life, you have changed the course of the world forever and irrevocably.

If you’re alive in five years, you’ll be five years older. You can be five years older studying English or with that degree (it won’t take very long since you already have a degree to begin with) and doing what makes you happy to wake in the morning without needing an alarm. Or, you can be five years older, unhealthy, unhappy and unfulfilled. You’ll be Tom Hanks in “Joe versus the Volcano” stuck in the basement in black and white, until the “misdiagnosis” of a terminal disease jolts him into action. Think about it; what life do you want in five years?

Dreams without actions are regrets.