I enjoy my mornings when I get into the office early. The silence, the time alone. It’s strange how a workspace can come to feel so familiar, a little like home. I look around my office and see how much my own space it is, and realize that if I left here it would be like moving out. I’d have boxes of stuff to cart out, my books, plants, pictures, and an astonishing amount of other personal items that I have accumulated and populated my office with in the past three years.
My assistant came into my office the other day to vent and talk. She does this occasionally, seeking an ear or advice about what to do with herself or her life (it’s always said in that italicized way “What do I do?!?“), or how to handle some seemingly major catastrophe that has befallen her, or to vent about her job or coworkers or friends.
Her issue this time is that she is feeling like she is going nowhere.
I remember that feeling. I remember having that feeling when I was both younger than she is, and quite a bit older. All her friends are embarking on careers and marriage and even families, and she feels stuck. Restless. I thought about what her life must be like. She has a good job, a nice apartment, friends and family. She lives within 25 miles of where she grew up. She’s got a college degree, and she’s working in her field, but she really isn’t on a “career” track. No boyfriend and few dates, but no drama to speak of, either. A nice, steady, settled life.
Also, no passion. She doesn’t have anything that thrills her, that moves her. She just drifts through her life, kind of…waiting. Waiting for something (or someone?) to happen.
I remember being restless. Hell, I get restless now. But now, when I get restless I usually find a new place to explore, take a trip or find something to stir my interests, to learn about. When I was younger, most of my restlessness had to do with being trapped in a life that had happened to me, rather than me making my life what I wanted. Children, boyfriends, husbands. My choices were limited by the shape of my life.
Hers isn’t. She could make of her life exactly what she wanted to. She could go anywhere, remake herself, her life, into whatever she wanted.
I’m a little envious of the choices she has before her. I’m a little sad that she won’t make any of those choices. I can see it already, when I say these things to her, a blankness, an inability to even begin thinking in a new way. A kind of dumb acceptance of the way life is “supposed to be” and an inability to even consider that she can change it.
I don’t have a lot of regrets in my life. I did what I had to do, I did the things that felt right at the time, and even when I made poor choices at times, I took responsibility for them and did the best I could with the outcome. I love my life now, and daily I choose to live the life I want. But the one regret I do have is that when I was faced, early on, with making a choice to live this way back then, to live passionately, I, too, couldn’t take that leap.
I don’t mind her coming to talk to me. Maybe some small thing I say will help her to see that she can choose the life she wants, and that she doesn’t have to accept what’s been given to her. Or maybe not. And maybe she will be perfectly happy that way, too. My wish for her is that, either way, she lives a life with no regrets.