No, Really… If you could do anything….

I ran into this TED Talk the other day.

And even though it was nested in among such gems as “Your Vagina is Not a Car,” a highly intellectual search for hidden meaning in Kubrick’s version of The Shining, and assortment of official and unofficial music videos, it stuck with me.

If you ask teenagers what they want to do when they grow up, about 80% of them say they want to be one of three things: Doctors, Lawyers, and Engineers. (Well, I think it said engineers. I’ve dated enough of them that there’s a semi-permanent censorship bleep over the word.)

And if you then ask them No, really, if you could do anything in the whole world you wanted, what would it be?

Uhm… well, about 80% (of the total, not just the Doctors, Lawyers, and whatevers) change their answer.

Okay. So 4 out of 5 people –already, in high school–are planning on doing something other than what they really want to do.

Or maybe… they have no sense of how to get from where they are to where they want to be.

I find myself looking around at the people I know–and people I think of as successful–and wondering which one is the happy one? If I have five people lined up, which one is doing what they actually want?

Remember that lecture from college? Look to your left… look to your right… One of those people won’t be here by spring.

This is more… well, add in the person in front of you… and behind you… and all four of those people will be spending their lives doing second-choice jobs in pursuit of stability and money.

And maybe I am the happy one. Maybe, even though I haven’t reached my goal–the fact that I’m still in motion counts for something.

Maybe the fact that I haven’t arrived at a destination I never wanted to get to in the first place matters more than I think.

And either way, so I’m in a job I don’t love, but somehow, maybe… I’m a little less alone than I thought I was.

After all… if 4 out of 5 people could do anything–anything in the world they wanted–it wouldn’t be what they are doing.

Garlic Bread and Patriotic Socks

Last night, I dreamt I went to a casual dining establishment where–for some reason–they were advertising free patriotic socks with every meal. That’s probably a side-effect of all the explosions. A little less than a week left to Independence Day, and my neighbors are celebrating. Loudly. Why no, as a matter of fact, fireworks aren’t legal to sell or use in my community for a few more days. Never mind, the neighbors are conducting their own private Trinity tests, and I’m dreaming about patriotic socks.

The garlic bread? Well, doesn’t everybody dream about garlic bread?

So I was in this casual dining establishment. The kind where you can look over the counter and watch what’s going on in the kitchen… and I ordered a meal, which should have come with garlic bread and patriotic socks.

I didn’t get the garlic bread, and that left me with the feeling that since I wasn’t given patriotic socks, I should probably complain about those, too. Whether I wanted them, or not. (Possibly not a patriotic socks person.)

I had to complain to get my garlic bread, and then, I had to complain two or three times to get my patriotic socks.

As I’m leaving the restaurant, I had to tell them that if I did not get my patriotic socks, I would not be paying the bill.

So, a manager comes to talk to me, and then, I’m standing there watching while she pulls out an overnight case that is completely full of socks folded into neat little balls in white plastic bags. She hands me my bag of socks and apologizes.

I don’t know what made me check. My subconscious is a strange and suspicious place.

I had to call the manager back. These are not patriotic socks.

What do you mean? Of course, they are.

These socks… are yellow and black.

The manager looked at me like I was crazy. She unrolled the socks, and pointed. Yes, they are. They have pictures of cowboys on them.

Can’t argue with that, so I went away with my yellow and black cowboy socks.

Dreams Without a Sell-By Date

I was talking to a coworker… or maybe this is a theme, and it’s just suddenly becoming obvious… But, it was one of those “At my age” conversations. So, here she is, in a job that she hates, coming off the last job that she hated, and which finally just hit the boiling point. Just couldn’t stand it, anymore, so here she is… And she was basically saying… what else can I do, at my age? (Her age is older than I am, but probably still about an eternity from retirement.)

The thing is, she had ideas. None of them are really things she’s passionate about, and most of them are things that you probably should be passionate about, if you’re going to make them your life’s goal. But they sound better than here, and why not?

Oh, yeah. That’ right. At my age… There are geographic factors, too. Kids, grandkids. Family in the dying little town we live in. We’re all good at finding reasons not to jump. Not to face the unknown.

The truth is, I don’t believe either one of us should count on our current job being here for long. Definitely not until I retire. Probably not even until she retires. And it’s really not that great a job to begin with. More of a devil you know situation.

Not everybody gets be an astronaut when they grow up.

And most kids… we pump them full of the kind of dreams that do have sell-by dates. How many years do you have to become a baseball player? I mean… you might spend your eighties tossing a ball around with the Senior Sluggers, but you’re never going to play for the New York Yankees. No, not even way out in left field. How long before you lose your chance to be a rock star? Do you even want to be President of the United States after you’re old enough to buy a beer?

Writing is different.

You can actually do that, regardless of age or geography for as long as you’re interested in doing it.

You can be better at eighty five than you were at twenty five.

There’s a lot of value in the idea that I can still make it, even at my age. Even at her age.

And I can make it doing something I’ve always loved.

I’m still working toward that goal.

In school, I got a lot of That’s Nice, dear… Have you considered this assessment-indicated career in forestry and wildlife management? Certainly more than anyone suggesting that writing could be a career path in itself.

 

Not Quite Screaming, but Still…

I had one of those dreams last night. The kind that have you waking up in a cold sweat, grateful to be under your own blanket in your own bed. I would call it a nightmare, but the truth is, it wasn’t all that scary, when I was dreaming it.

I was zipping down the road at a nice–but perfectly lawful–clip, and trying to buckle my seat belt.

A blue hybrid–one of those old, boxy things, with the enormous battery in the back–hit me head-on. The car was really, really blue. He was out of his lane, and I was distracted And for a second, I was flying through the air, or at least, knocked firmly around.

Everything went black–probably due to far too much TV–and then, I woke up.

That makes the second bad-enough-to-wake-you-up dream in the last couple of weeks.

No, I really don’t know why you have to know about this.

And yeah, maybe this is just a sign that I need more fish in my diet, or an extra vitamin pill before bed.

But at the moment…

Buckle your seat belts before you get on the freeway, and don’t drive distracted.

This has been a public service announcement from Karen’s subconscious.

Dreams To Confuse and Bewilder

I’ve been the poster child for strange and bizarre dreams, lately. For some reason, and I’m still working out the exact logic behind this, I dreamt that I took not one, but two baths (really deep, use up all the hot water type baths) at my old pre-school teacher’s house. (Not the house she actually lived in. Something out of my imagination with no actual ties to real life.) And then, I found out the toilet wasn’t working. (Just a little too much momentum behind the flushes. Turbo charged toilets. That’s what you get for providing random children with STEM toys, thank you very much.) And I could not fix said toilet.

I was also hopping through a–sorta–cemetery, but a lot of the graves were cracked open. Talking. Mostly to people who were still topside in the dream, but who are dead in real life. I can’t remember the details anymore, but it was fairly peaceful. Probably not a whole lot like my relationship with them was in real life.

None of the concrete worked. It was a little like walking through a scrap yard… But with weeping angels. The kind that just stood there and did nothing. Not the kind that eat you.

I’m not sure if any of it meant anything. Probably not. But then, I don’t usually remember my dreams.

Possibly a bit of vitamin deficiency.

Fan-Girls, Groupies, and Choosing the Right Dreams

Last night, I dreamed I was helping one of my favorite authors rearrange his collection of movie posters.

I’m not sure whether this is a good dream or a bad dream, because on the one hand, I am kind of a fan girl, so I could have a pretty good time playing grateful slave labor. On the other hand, I do have some  qualms about encouraging this new movie/television hobby in someone who is supposed to be writing my new favorite book.

And, honestly, I have some qualms about the groupie-ing mindset that produces a dream like that.

Really? Dream Self offered to help you clean out your attic?

And furthermore, Dream Self didn’t even question it, when she was there in jeans and a t-shirt, ready to work… and you showed up looking like you were about to go on national television?

You’d think black would show at least a little dust, after a long day of attic diving. But…

Oh, yeah. That’s right. Dream Self Groupie.

And in this dream, I was just way too impressed with Favorite Author* to notice that I was basically following him around taking orders and hauling movie posters.

Suddenly, that starts to sound like one of those insecurities dreams. Not the rose, but near the rose type things.

Too bad. It was pretty fun, until I woke up and started thinking.

*No, I won’t name names. He probably isn’t that much of an asshat in real life.