I'm starting to be less and more surprised at once at the map of life--or perhaps with the fact that there is not really a clear path to follow, focused and determined and settled without doubt on the final destination.
The more I learn about my Buddhist friend, I think that her map of good-karma-making-projects is to lead her to a better future life.
Lacking the exact traditions of her culture--50 days since her mother's death, 100 days of her mother's death, her deceased mother's birthday--I wander through memories and come upon road marks and make it up as I go along. We do have All Saints' Day, but since my church life has been sucked away by absences caused by death, work and exhaustion I am missing that routine of the liturgical calendar.
I do miss it, but the necessity of income seems to trump the desire for communion and that community.
Also, there are few to no signs that we are deeply missed. It's easier to leave something that does not call you back.
So now, in the second October of my non-teaching life I look around and wonder about the design of my life.
Clearly I have found new and old loves. Exercises and events that had been sequestered for years while I devoted myself to a decorated classroom, hundreds of other people's paths, and a gathering of accolades for work performed with deep and drowning devotion.
Now, now. Now. Now?
Husband and wife.
Waiting to see about the residency.
In no particular order.
But I like to think and need to believe and really have learned from the aimless other-people pleasing of the past and I know at this point where I am ready enough to begin being flooded with work I need to decide which work is going to feed me literally, intellectually and spiritually. I need to decide what is going to make me whole and eat more of that, and turn down the offers of that which fills the calendar and perhaps the coffers but not the soul.
So photography. I love it. I love the beauty of the art, the captured image of my eye's view of life and love and breath-halting surprises of the extraordinary picture of the ordinary. Photography nourishes my life completely.
Graphic design makes me happy. I know how to capture the attention of viewers with just the right placement of elements that matter. It's not as innately exciting as the shuttering of the camera lens, but in combination with a meaningful product or my own photography it satisfies intellectual and financial needs.
Painting--strictly for feeding my soul, this art I have only been practicing for a year of my 32 years; painting feeds my soul and should only be relied upon for that purpose. When it becomes something I tie to the finances of my life it becomes emotionally damaging, and I want it only to be emotionally filling.
Writing, editing, journalism. My first loves. My first art. My degree in literature with a concentration on writing and experience in journalism. A skill finely honed that has been used broadly. A skill I need to guard against people's tendency to perform the easy exploitation of something that people cannot do themselves but think they can ask me to do because I do it quickly and meticulously. Writing could easily become something I despise if I force myself to accept jobs I do not believe in or feel passionately about. Writing, my first love, should be protected. I should give it away if the giving leaves no resentment, I should use it for financial gain if the gain outweighs the shackles of the time writing demands and pulls away from my new loves---photography, painting modeling. If I protect writing, I protect my soul.
Reading. Pleasure. News, fiction, memoirs, words in any order pulling me into their pleasure. To be protected like writing, to be enjoyed and not exploited in some combination of the demands of others.
Work. I work in the restaurant industry because I like the interaction with people, the simple doing of the work, the way I leave the building and do not bring homework with me. It's fun and fills the financial coffers as well as my need for socialization. I need to keep work in its box because the box supports the passionate pursuit of my photographic and artistic hybrid career. When those at work who recognize my other skills, I need to protect those skills so that these parts of me do not meld into anything that makes co-workers frustrated or me feel exploited. Hostessing is one job. Editing, photographing, writing are entirely different jobs to be respectfully compensated on entirely different levels. The skills and the training required of the two are so vastly disparate I have to respect myself enough to command the respect of others.
Borrow puppies. Exuberant love and silly ecstatic fun without too much responsibility. Definitely soul feeding and coffer supplementing, I need them like a fish needs water.
Husband and wife waiting to see about the residency. This relationship is where my life really lies. My marriage is what everything else is for and sustained by. The love exchanged here, the loyalty, the friendship, the future all wrapped in a partnership that propels us forward together. Nothing too much given or lost, the balance of our lives: Justin and Olaina.