With all due respect to Paul Theroux’s brilliant novel, whose title I’m abusing, I wanted to talk for a moment or two* about living in parallel.
Not a bad way to go, really. I’ve been a recruiter for longer than I like to think about, and it’s been an interesting career. I hope it continues to be so for as long into the future as I so choose (ie, I want to be the one who decides to break things off). Variable projects, fascinating clients, and amazing people who I occasionally am able to help with a serious life change. At times, hand-written thank you notes. Those are probably the sweetest, and rarest, plums. The compensation is fair, but – despite what a certain reality tv show about recruiters implies – is not enough to afford me exotic luxury cars and rides in private jets. I’m good with that. I like my Altima, a summer rental in Maine, and happy kids who think their dad’s pretty alright, if a bit of an oddball.
All that said: it’s not enough. It shouldn’t be. I think anyone whose life involved work, then home, misses something. For one thing, they miss out on enriching parts of their brain that will make them happier, more interesting, and probably a better person to be around. When I think of my father, John Burns, as I often do, I don’t think of him as Dean of Bentley College. He was, but that’s not where I go. My mind finds him in his workshop in the basement, surrounded by a halo of sawdust, carving and building. It’s visceral. Proust: “When nothing else subsists from the past,” he wrote, “after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered…the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls…bearing resiliently, on tiny and almost impalpable drops of their essence, the immense edifice of memory.” So, there’s that. Sawdust and hidden memory.
The point is, that informed him. Carving and working with wood. Making kaleidoscopes, chairs, chess sets, anything he wanted, seemingly. It was also where he was at his most, well, Zen. It made him, I think, a much better father, husband, friend.
Which, in a long roundabout way, brings me to what I do, when I’m not doing other things. I like to write poetry. Not the sexiest, or frankly, most useful of hobbies, but it’s what I find levels me out. It drives me to read more, to focus, and to figure out what’s going on in the far back of my skull.
It’s also something I gave up on for years – a variety of excuses, none of them really worthwhile. So, I decided to bite the bullet, and created a blog called Writer Moe, where I could publish to. To force the issue. Now that I’m reengaging with my old love, work’s brighter, life’s better.
I’m curious: what do you pursue? Are you?
*Skimmers and speed readers can adjust that down. I’m not the most challenging of writers to read.