I just finished reading Daniel H. Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. In this book, he discusses six traits: design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning. At the conclusion of each chapter/trait, he gives a list of projects that one could do in order to further develop that trait. This book was one that really made me think about the world, my place in it, and how I do things or react to events.
One project, listed in the Meaning chapter, was to consider your life as if you were 90-years-old. What kinds of stories do you want to be telling at that age? What do you want to have accomplished? Would you be happy telling your life-story as it is now? If not, what are you willing to change to help create the life that you would be proud of sharing?
Wow. Stop and think about that for a moment. I know that I thought and have kept thinking about this for about two days (so far).
For me, I know exactly what I would change and am working harder than ever to ensure that my life becomes what I have always envisioned. I think that sometimes it takes doing something just to pay the bills, that you do not necessarily enjoy, to show you the pathway you need to be on. For me, I have worked the past few years within a recreation department at a nursing home. The residents are mostly entertaining but I have not been happy. Not because I have been unable to facilitate greater meaning in the lives of these elderly residents but for the lack of meaning in my own. I have been stuck, in a way, with no real support or knowledge or what comes next in my life.
On the other hand, I absolutely love teaching piano. I love practicing and performing. Most days I feel that this is what I was born to do. For most of my life, I have felt like a misfit and have struggled in understanding where I belong and why I was placed in the life I was placed in. Not because I do not love my family and friends because I do. My life just rarely made much sense to me. Then, I started excelling at the piano. Finally, I found something that I could do that made me feel special and made sense to me.
So, I went to music camps and college and grad school. Then, I felt a little lost again. I was finished with my master’s and am a little burned out. So, I move back across the country and find this job in the nursing home. Once again, I was adrift with no paddle, so to speak. I am working a go-nowhere job and am increasingly unhappy with each passing day. So, what to do?
I am working to build my piano studio and have some upcoming auditions and performances scheduled. It is just hard. Hard to go to work just to pay the bills. Hard to try to find meaning when I feel so out of place.
So, I’ll struggle on and I’ll keep practicing because I want to be able to feel like my life has been worth something at age 90, even if it is just to myself. The stories I will be able to tell will be uniquely mine. I suppose I just want them to be great and to never be forgotten.