I sat down at my open-air desk, in Bali, with fields of green in front of me, and a gentle air blowing in off the ocean behind me, intending to write a very different blog post than this. Just as I began to write, I was interrupted by some rather friendly tropical bugs… I didn’t know ants had a thing for keyboards, but I’m having to do a delicate dance of key selection to avoid crushing the poor little things as I type, so watch out folks.. Might want to seal those keyboards in plastic to avoid an infestation at home.
I’m in Bali because I’ve spent the last 7 years building a business that is now providing just enough small monthly income, without too much involvement from me, to travel in Southeast Asia, and figure out what’s next. I couldn’t live in the west off its current proceeds, but my heart won’t let me pursue growth in that current business as a full-time gig. There’s a clear demand from within for something else vocationally, and I’m exploring, among other things, what that “something else” might be.
I’ve had quite a few conversations lately about how the notion that we’re supposed to have a singular career just doesn’t seem to fit for many of us. It feels somehow off that there’s supposed to be one central thing we do our whole lives that provides the vast majority of our income, fulfillment, and self-expression.
I don’t buy it.
Just like I don’t buy that I’m supposed to go out and find that one perfect person for that one perfect relationship, who’ll meet all my different needs, and we’ll live happily ever after. Not only is that the classic trap of “I”ll be happy when” thinking, but there’s a heck of a lot of different kinds of support, play, affection, adventure, and companionship that this mind and body seem to need. To expect one person to meet all of those would be at best demanding, and at worst, cruel. I keep close relationships with quite a few different people, dear friends who each meet me at a slightly different part of my personality, and who all together create a fulfilled life of human interaction. I don’t think it makes sense, for most of us humans, to reserve our vast expanses of humanity, tenderness, and shared exploration, for just one person we’ve chosen as a romantic partner. Similarly, I don’t think it makes sense for many of us now to reserve all our brilliance, expression, learning, and time, to just one career path.
Lots of friends. Lots of jobs.
It’s not an easy mindset change. I catch myself frequently returning to “what do I want to be when I grow up?” Sort of thinking.. Or, more uncomfortably, “What do I want to do with the REST OF MY LIFE?”. That question’s just not helpful. It acts like it is, popping to mind multiple times a day, but it’s actually way too overwhelming. I can’t possibly presume to imagine what the next 50+ years will bring.
Plus, I change my mind. It happens. A lot. And I’m learning to be okay with that. After having been busting ass in my current field for the last 10 years, even with having the freedoms of being my own boss the last 7 of those 10, thinking of committing to a multi-decade career, or even another 10-year project right now, fills me with all sorts of feelings, none of which are joy.
So, as I have to remind myself every 12 hours or so, I’m interested in what’s now, and what’s just next, not the million things after that.
What’s now is using caution to avoid becoming an insect steamroller, while wondering if ants crawling under the keys of a laptop computer will be the death of its circuitry, or if the sweat dripping from my hands attempting to type in this giant outdoor sauna will have that honor.
Next, after this trip, will be something that feels “seasonal”. Short-term, without the need for years of ground-laying, and fun. I’m thinking “project” instead of “job”. I’m thinking expression and fulfillment and joy, that happens to also provide income, and is expressly temporary. I’m letting a bunch of ideas tickle that fancy, while keeping most of my focus on being on this trip, while on this trip.
These ants just won’t let me stay present though. They seem to want to crawl right under whatever finger has reached to click on my laptop trackpad. They come in close enough to just brush under my skin, but not so directly under that they wind up squished… and then run away under the keys again. It’s like they want to come over, and just be touched before going on their way. I watched this with confounded chuckles for a few moments, following their movement with my thoughts, until they lead back to one of those next project ideas.
I’d earlier had this idea, you see, to use the massage skill I learned working as a personal fitness trainer for the previously mentioned decade, in combination with my delight in energy work and intuitive practices, to offer spiritual bodywork sessions. Since one of my next big interest points when I return to the states is paying back the loans I still carry from Spiritual Psychology grad school, this seems like a fitting and energetically-aligned way to move forward on that goal: Make a project of paying back my spiritual education, with offerings of spiritually-focused touch.
And here I am, trying to “do some work” writing in Bali, and these little ants just won’t stop coming over to get their mini massages. I suppose that’s what’s now. For the last decade I’ve been a personal trainer. In a few months, I’ll likely be something else. For now, I’m a massage therapist for ants. And somehow, that seems exactly right.