Not so long ago I was in the midst of finding a new job and trying to solve some nasty medical issues while my daughter and two precious grandkids moved into our house doubling the headcount overnight. Fast forward five months and now I’m feeling healthier than I have in a long time, all the “kids” are still here, I found a full time job, and I’ve joined NaNoWriMo. What? Nanowhomo? Nanowhatnow? I know, I’m beginning to see it too, I may just be a glutton for punishment. Before all this I spent four years working full time while going to school full time to earn a degree that has recently become absolutely meaningless to me (no, I will not discuss the financial implications of this).
I have always been a somewhat introspective person and it only took one simple question to turn my whole psyche, not to mention my world, upside down. I hate it when that happens! So now that you’re dying to know how one little question turned a grounded, down-to-earth, professional, level-headed, practical gal into a mental, gelatinous pile of goo I’ll tell you what the seemingly innocuous inquiry was.
“What if there is no retirement?”
That’s it. Six simple words, “What if there is no retirement?” Did I freak out because our 401k is nonexistent after stints of unemployment for both me and my hubby? No. Did I lose it because I had just realized there will likely be no Social Security when I reach “retirement” age? Nope. It was much more horrifying that that. Something went off in my soul. My heart felt stifled, I couldn’t breathe for a moment, and for once, my ego had absolutely nothing to say. In that moment of pure clarity and suspended time I realized something big. No, something HUGE. Suddenly and large part of my life lost all meaning entirely, which left an opening for a true and passionate calling. No matter how terrified I was, there it was, plain as the nose on my face.
I couldn’t keep doing what I’ve been doing only to get what I’ve been getting and I certainly didn’t want to live… be…die…”retire” living the life I was living. Suddenly Peter Gibbons voice is in my head from the movie Office Space and I’m thinking every day I have to go into the office is the worst day of my life. Guess what? It is, and there’s nothing I can do about that right now. However, I can’t undo what I’ve seen and it’s funny how being really sick forces you to take a look at your life and figure out what your real priorities are.
Enter NaNoWriMo.org. Before this major epiphany I had resigned myself to being “okay” with the slow and constant drudgery that is my life with maybe an occasional vacation, but now that I know what I know, it has become slow torture leading to certain death. Think I’m overdramatizing? Show me someone who has heard his or her true calling and I’ll show you someone who would wither and die on any other path. I had begun writing a novel several months ago but it has been slow going as I learn a new job and juggle a house full of six people while trying to find the time to write.
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is put on by The Office of Letters and Light. You can go to the website NaNoWriMo.org for more information. What NaNoWriMo participants do is write the rough draft of a novel, all 50,000 words, in one month from November 1 to November 30. Gah! Yep. This writer is going to attempt a 50k novel in 30 days working full time with six people in the house! Go me! This is my first time at NaNoWriMo, so I’m doubly nervous and excited. If you are a writer and have always wanted to write a novel but procrastination, fear, or whatever other excuse you’ve made has stopped you, maybe you’ll want to check NaNoWriMo out to get your feet wet.
Once I realized that every day was going to be the worst day of my life until I could get out of the cycle of going to a j-o-b every day I had to move. I had to set things in motion to be and do more, to create a life with more meaning and to give meaning to what I do day in and day out.
All that said, I am ever so grateful to my employer for giving me the means to pay the bills and I work for some wonderful people who will still be wonderful without me pushing papers around for them once I’m ready to become free. Even the caterpillar has to take it on faith that it will become a butterfly because it basically becomes caterpillar soup in that chrysalis before a beautiful butterfly is formed and bursts from it. I am stepping out in faith that out of the soupiness of what’s gone before, I’m changing into something different, something beautiful and someone who can offer the world a little something more. The demons of the past will meet the heroes of the future on the field at NaNoWriMo. Stay tuned.
How about you? What was your epiphany? Your wake-up call? Are you still trying to figure out what you want to be when you grow up? I felt that way for a long time. How did you know when the defining moment had arrived?