Giving It Your Half (or Maybe Your Three-Quarters)

I never understood career drive. Even now, now that I have found a niche in my career that I like, I still don’t have trouble finding other things to do during my unscheduled time.   I don’t think I was born with a personality that thrives on action and accomplishment in the workplace, envy and adoration of my colleagues or what-have-you.

I am glad that I have a part-time job now because I dedicate as much time to my two or three classes a semester as I dedicated to a full-time teaching load in a public school. In my present job setting, however, that time spent accomplishes a lot. And it pays off—I am organized and entertaining, and my students can measure their progress and accomplish their goals. I can effectively teach, and also I can spend a good amount of time in my own head, entertaining thoughts that have nothing to do with teaching. I’m going out there, and I’m facing the working world, and I’m giving it my half (or maybe my three-quarters).

Unfortunately, the amount I was able to sink into my role as a public school teacher didn’t cover the time I needed to be a great success in that field. My students suffered—I suffered—and if I had a do-over… well, if I had a do-over… I wouldn’t go into the profession at all. I was wrong. I made a big, fat mistake resulting from relative youth and lifelong depression and alcohol abuse and the junk pile of all the prior mistakes I had been sitting on when I made that big one.

If I had a do-over, I know I wouldn’t do that. But what would I do? Be a lawyer? A park ranger? Who knows. Who knows what I was meant to be. I’m 43. Are questions like these even relevent?

My mom is a half to three-quarters woman herself. She was the “me” of her generation, kinda drifting around, working various jobs that offered varying levels of responsibility, botching up and then patching up her marriage (my father, I believe, helped with the botching part). She daydreamed, had a couple kids, had me.   She listened to me about half the time. But she made it to place where she can feel satisfied. I wonder if she ever wonders about do-overs? If she ever blames herself like I blame myself for where I am?

Although, maybe “blame” is not the right word. I didn’t “end up” where I am now as much as I made it happen, the good and the bad. I can trace that accumulating pile of choices from the bottom up, from my foolish twenties into my experimental thirties, into my wiser forties. When I scan the vistas from the top of my mountain, I am satisfied with what I see—a rare breed of husband, “my winnings” from a high-risk gamble; the opportunity to live well, to write this. Yes, I am satisfied with what I see, so satisfied that I almost have forgotten how I got here, how many tough decisions I had to make. And now, with so many of my past struggles behind me, I can stop blaming myself for what didn’t work. I can even feel pride for what did.

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