Saturday, September 10, 2005

Motivation….

Sometimes I wonder where my get up and go, got up and went.

It seems like just a few short days ago I was feverously working on the truck project, anxiously anticipating the completion of one phase after another, pressing on despite the heat and any sort of aches, pains or tiredness.

Lately though, while I know I need to get back to it, I’m finding I have less, and less, extra energy for it.

I could blame it on the additional (household) work I’m doing while my wife continues to recover from her surgery. In all honesty though, it really hasn’t been that much ‘extra’ work. Sure I’m doing a little laundry, cleaning the litter boxes for the cats, some vacuuming and, on occasion, mopping a floor or two. None of this explains my absent energy levels.

I’m beginning to worry that I could be getting depressed, again. Last time I had absolutely no energy, nothing seemed interesting to me, and I’d be perfectly happy vegetating in front of the TV for hours. About the only difference now, is that I’m happy sitting here in front of this ‘tube’ for hours.

While I like my job, the current contract, the people at the job and generally everything about my ‘professional’ life, it just doesn’t have the same “zing” it had years ago. When I first started in the IT/IS business, I was 100% wrapped up in it. I literally ‘lived’ the job.

There was so much to learn, and I felt like I never had enough time to learn all I wanted to learn. I was like an old, dried out sponge being reintroduced to water. I sucked up everything in sight, couldn’t get enough. These days, I have to force myself to ‘hit the books’ and learn new things (computer-wise), the ‘old ways’ just feel so damn comfortable!

I think part of it is I’d like one more ‘career’ before I retire from full time employment, something decidedly less ‘techie’, yet somehow as cerebral. Writing is certainly something I’ve often wanted to do, and with my first two ‘opinion’ pieces being published this year, I’ve taken one small step in that direction. Making the step to sufficient gainful monetary reward from it is yet another matter indeed.

I’ve been like this most of my life. Forever moving from one new experience to another, as soon as the current one feels ‘old’ od stale. Most folks, who don’t know me well, think I’m somehow ‘talented’, when the hard truth of the matter is, I become incredibly bored.

Yes, there I’ve said it, programming, once a source of endless fascination for me, has become, at times, stale. Not because there aren’t new challenges, there are 100’s, 1000’s even, but because I no longer have doubts about my ability to meet the challenges. In the last 20+ years, I’ve been told on countless occasions that what I was promising to do, was not possible, or that I couldn’t deliver, on time, as promised. Not once, did I ever fail to meet the challenge.

I need a new challenge… something that will give me a little ‘fear’, make me sharp again... it’s been far too long since I smelled the fear of a new challenge, one I have no clue about how to achieve. There’s an adrenalin ‘rush’ that accompanies running headlong into a new arena, not knowing how the ‘game’ will turn out.

My choices are a bit limited these days. I’m not so young as I once was, corporate doors tend not to open quite so quickly for someone past 50 looking to ‘break into’ something new. It’s expected you see, that I should be happy, just doing what I do, and to coast the next 10 or 15 years into retirement.

I just don’t know as I can do that.

No, I know I can’t.

It’s the loss of the dream I think that’s bothering me most. You see I’ve always had some kind of seemingly ‘impossible dream’. A dream that was certainly achievable, to some folks, but one that felt nearly impossible, to me.

First it was the garage, I dreamed about that all through High School, and my time in the military, then, one day, there I was standing in front of my own shop.

Next it was going back to college and getting my degree. It certainly looked impossible at the onset. There was little money, and a ton of bills. Yet, once again, eventually, there I was walking across the stage and receiving a diploma.

My first full time job out of college was teaching at a post secondary school in Syracuse. The first semester I taught primarily introductory accounting, and one flowcharting and logic class. During that semester I became enamored with computers and set my sights on learning and teaching some programming classes.

The next thing I knew, I was the lead programming instructor at the new branch location.

However, by the time that came to pass, I’d set my sights on developing applications for these new “IBM PC’s” everyone was talking about. My first project was for a trucking company, in a programming language I’d never seen, or even read about. I delivered that project, on time, and on budget, and my new ‘consulting career’ was launched.

Soon I was developing applications for a broader market, expanding, ‘making a name’ for myself in the little world I lived in.

Yet, once again the dream had shifted. I wanted to be a ‘hired gun’, the guy who came into town to build the tough projects. Soon, I was doing just that, in Tennessee, Georgia, California and then North Carolina.

I settled in once I got here. All of a sudden I was making ‘contract’ money, on a steady job, with benefits… I thought I’d finally arrived. But soon, that same old ‘call’ was back, I was uneasy, restless, looking for another challenge.

It arrived in the way of a contract with USAir to link the call accounting systems in their reservation centers with the payroll system on their mainframes. I took a sabbatical from my ‘perfect job’, risking the loss of that steady deal, just to prove I could do it. I did, and went back to the ‘job’, for another 6 or 7 years.

The restlessness has been back for a while. I thought, at first, that contracting again would feed the hunger, ease the longing, and it did, for a while.

I’m even having some fairly good success at it, more than I expected, and everyone seems very happy with the quality, and quantity, of my work. Still, this feeling there’s something else I should be doing, that haunts me.

The worst thing is, there’s no ‘dream’ this time. No clear vision of what’s next on the horizon. It may just be that it’s missing that bothers me most. I don’t know, if having a dream, that’s always just a little out of reach, is a good, or a bad thing. I just know, it’s something that’s always been with me, as far back as I can remember.

It’s entirely possible I’m simply mourning the loss of an old ‘friend’, an ally that was always on my side. It could be that this is simply part of the process of life and it took me longer than most to stop dreaming about what’s next.

I’m not ready to stop dreaming.

I’m not ready to stop finding ways to make life, and living exciting and new, everyday.

For now, I’ll keep writing, it gives me a lot of pleasure to do it, it always has. Writing, for a living, is the one, long term dream I’ve had, I’ve never pursued. I hate rejection, and I know writing can be a life filled with rejections, which is probably the one reason I’ve never gone after it.

Writing, like every other dream I’ve gone after, is also something I can work towards without giving up my ‘day job’.

Maybe, just maybe, I’m already living my dream. I’m writing and you folks stop by and read it; all that’s missing is the ‘money’. Truthfully, money has never really motivated me to do anything; I’ve always done everything because I loved doing it. Money was always secondary to me (which explains why I’ve never made a ton of it), it was the ‘work’ that got me out of bed in the morning.

So here I sit, having come full circle. Feeling lost, directionless, when I sat down and now actually smiling in the realization that I’m doing, exactly, what I’ve always wanted to do.

Thank you all for making it so much fun for me to do it!

12 comments:

Whit said...

I love your taking us on the journey of pursuing your dreams...the beautiful thing about writing is that you can explore as many dreams as you can dream and there is no limit. Why do I have a feeling that I will someday see "Bill Coupe, NY Times Best Selling Author" alongside your blog. All us visitors can say 'we knew you when.'

Your talents lie in your tenacity.
Your gifts are rooted in your hopefulness.
Your wisdom is based in your humility and introspection.
And your rewards are discovered through your transparency.

I don't think you are at a loss for a dream...I think you are trying to choose among all those that are springing forth from you heart.

Bill said...

Whit - From your lips to God's ears.. as my Mom always said.. That would be a wonderful turn of events!!

I'm glad you're enjoying the trip, I know I am, it's tough, at times to maintain a sense of perspective, but when I can, I see its been, and is a fun one.

You're probably right, hopefully soon I'll get just one in focus and can begin moving on it!

Ilene said...

Oh Bill, Live your dream one moment at a time. Maybe it is time for you to not have a plan, but walk out into the darkness and a light will shine on your path because you are your own light.

Here is a quote that has sustained me many times when I didn't have a real plan. I think I will post it to my blog.

I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year,
Give me a light that I might go safely out into the darkness.
And he replied, Go out into the darkness
and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be more to you than a light
and safer than a known way.

King George V Christmas Message to British People

Keep encouraged.

RealLady said...

Oh wow! thank you Ladies for saying such wonderful things about Bill! I can tell you, he is all that you say and so much more! I am the luckiest woman alive! to be..."his wife!" ~Maryan

Bill said...

Ilene - I try to do that, everyday. Sometimes though the 'process' is a bit too 'slow' for my liking.

I do take comfort though, in knowing I can't take life any faster than it's given to me, and that's definitely one moment at a time!

Thanks for the quote, I liked it a lot! (good to see you around again!)

Bill said...

RealLady.. thank you darlin... you are indeed the light in my life, thanks for stopping in and continuing to make me glad we met!!

Firehawk said...

Bill,

Without that next challenge, without that dream of the next thing you wonder if you can really accomplish, what is there?

Bill said...

Firehawk - For me, and you, and some others, not much probably... I wonder though what gets those folks through the day who don't dream 'impossible dreams'.

Are their lives simpler somehow?

Richer possibly, for simply savoring where they are, and not yearning to go where they've never been?

Comfort Addict said...

Bill, I admire your initiative, and your propensity to go for what scares you, so much. I, too, have felt washed out, albeit for a different reason (I'm tired of all of the corporate crap).

Based on what you've written, you've always succeeded at whatever you're passionate about. You seem very passionate about writing. It can be a lonely life (so sayeth my dad) but, if you have determination, a fulfilling one. Good luck.

Bill said...

CA - it's the corporate crap, and the relentless pursuit of the mediocre in the business world we live in... I've been told 'burn out' was inevitable... I just never believed them!

I think that making a solid living from writing is probably just a dream. I have no desire to live a life of poverty for the craft... I do know that I'll always be 'smithing' words, regardless of what else I do!

David said...

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Bill said...

FIS - all means add me to your 'favorites'... I'm sure it's a 'short list'. :)