Wednesday, 7 March 2012

What do you want to do next?

This is the question that pops up on my screen whenever I open a new tab in Internet Explorer. Luckily, I only have to see this question on my work computer because I have standards at home and those standards told me to ditch Explorer in 2005. But for eight long hours I'm taunted by the pale blue text: What do you want to do next?

It's the same question that floats softly through my mind on long commutes, whispered by that little voice in the back of my mind. I turn up the radio so I don’t have to listen to those nagging questions, much like drowning out that weird sound my engine makes. I sing along to whatever autotuned bullshit England has managed to turn into a dance remix, unless it's Maroon 5. My dignity won't let me enjoy “Moves like Jagger.”

I do this because I fear the silence. I can hear that voice in the silence, and she knows too much. She asks the pertinent questions. Not just, "What do you want to do next?" but the big questions. “Why are you wasting 50 hours a week on a job you're not passionate about?” “What IS your passion?” “Is this what you thought you'd be doing with your life?” “What will make you happy?”

I think of my teenage self, gathering up old copies of National Geographic so she could cut out pictures of exotic locations and paste them onto a poster board. I see her rocking out to REO Speedwagon and Tom Petty and dreaming of how her life would be. It's true that I have traveled far more than most, but I've stopped enjoying it. Even when I’m on vacation, my mind is at work. I gave up figuring out what I wanted to do with my life and sold out for the closest option. Now everything just seems like another hassle I have to get through, another box I need to tick.

My job, or rather my preoccupation with my job, consumes my free time, but I've invested so many years that I'm afraid to try something new.

In this frame of mind, I ended up in my car after another long day of being asked what I wanted to do next. An old familiar song came on the radio: “Time for Me to Fly” by REO. By the time I got to the lyric "I do believe I've had enough," I had my answer. Instead of clinging to the past and daydreaming of the future, I'm going to travel mindfully with my adventure partner/husband. I'm going to record our travels so that I can create lasting memories of the life we're creating, and it is my hope that by sharing my experiences, I can help others on their journey. I finally know what I want to do next.

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