Not My American Dream


These past few days have confirmed that I’m really hot.

Literally.  Not metaphorically.

I’ve been constantly running for water: while driving down Mission, while facing the floor in downward dog, while speaking at a work conference.  No matter how much water I suck in, a dry desert spreads inside me.

Maybe the heat’s always been there and I’m just sensing it.  Or, maybe my body’s decided to suddenly ignite tapas, the burning away the old, without consent of my mind.

Which causes me to realize that, if something’s burning up inside me, it’s my path in life.

The Gita discusses finding one’s dharma, or the path we are meant to follow, plus or minus the will of the universe.

It’s funny to write this; I always swaggered down what I thought was my path, otherwise known as the job I’d wanted since I was 16 years old.

But, one year ago, I realized I might’ve lost my way on my internal road map, when my dear friend A. flew to San Francisco to visit.  At the SFO sidewalk, I watched as she heaved her luggage into my car’s trunk.

She turned to me triumphantly and announced: “I quit my job yesterday!”

“Oh my god.  I’m so jealous.”  I replied instantly, thoughtlessly, jealousy licking like tiny flames at my guts.  Jealousy lighting me up, the way passion for my job once had, but no longer.

“You should quit!” A encouraged me ebulliently.  Like someone who had crumbled her bridges to ash, or who had cut her tethers to them.

“I will,” I said.  Inspired, I added: “Maybe this year!”

But, I couldn’t.  Now, without having leapt from the safety net of my 9-5, my arms itch to see if they are also wings that can fly me towards my vision, via a new route.

The problem is for me, the daughter of a workaholic, that with money comes value, with work comes value, and work and value and love all blend together, and I’m scared of fading away, of becoming a gray patch in a Technicolor world.

Do all people who’ve once loved their jobs — like me — end up identifying as their jobs?  Or is this something everyone does?

Who will I be when there are no job titles to define me?

So it’s been one year now since I’ve re-envisioned my dharma.  Some days, I see green pastures, gauzy pink flowers, open hands.  Other days, I see Ramen at solitary lunchtimes and ripped-at-the-seams pockets.  The first keeps me dreaming; the second has weighted me to my job.

My colleague thinks I’m insane since I’ve confided in her my dreams of quitting: “This is the easiest job you’ll ever have,” she lectures.  “What if you want kids?  What if you want more time in your life?  You’ll never work for a better place.”  Her questions stick because they echo everyone’s questions.

Sometimes, I wish I loved offices more.  Or money more.  Or infants more.  Or white wedding dresses more.  Or picket fences more.  Wouldn’t my life be easier, if I just wanted what everyone else wants?  And expects me to want?

But my choices are few.  I can bow at the altar of financial stability, family, friends, and stop there.

Or, I can move to the second altar, where the entire universe dwells.

I have stopped at the first.  Now, I fear that the heat rising inside me will consume my entire life in one massive conflagration.

At the second, I can only bow my head and believe.  That I will gather as kindling the injustices of the world.  That I will re-devote myself to the future I once passionately worked towards, of peace and equality.  And that, when the voiceless are voiced, the wounded healed, the invisible seen, I will be loved.  I will be loved, illuminated, beautiful, whole.

Happy 2014, loved ones.

May you find your own paths on this new revolution around the sun.


PS: Photo credit from this random forum.

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7 Responses to Not My American Dream

  1. Loved your post. I can relate to this very much. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have fantasized how I could dramatically just walk out and go!

  2. Regina says:

    Really interesting post. I appreciate how you bring up that for some of us the responsibilities of our jobs are done out of love. The stability we get out of our jobs is not just financial, but feeling like we have a meaningful place in the world.

  3. Pingback: How to Quit your Job (the semi-spiritual primer), Part 2 | Girl Growing Brighter

  4. Pingback: How to find your true path in life, Pt. 1 | Girl Growing Brighter

  5. Pingback: How to find your true path in life, Pt. 2 | Girl Growing Brighter

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