Saturday, July 25, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - Finishing what you've started

"Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task." ~ William James

I have a hard time letting things go. I have to watch movies straight through to the end, no matter how bad they are. I have to finish every book I start. Nothing causes me to lose sleep more than tasks hanging around for me to finish tomorrow; hence my tremendous lack of sleep in a partially packed apartment. Why is it so troublesome to let things lie around undone?

It could be that I've read too many stories about people who didn't quite get to see their dreams realized. It could be that I've read that quote from John Lennon "Most people die with the music still in them" once too often. I don't want to look back and be so far away from something I started that it's too difficult to pick it up again.

We get to these points in our lives where we must go left or right and it's very hard to double back once we've made a choice. Not impossible, but certainly difficult. I'm there now. A lot of my friends are there now. Maybe this is the dilemma we find in our 30's. We are making choices now that impact every other choice down the line. We're deciding who we're going to become, how we're going to make use of our talents, how the world around us is going to be different because we passed this way instead of that way.

And while I have a natural instinct of which way to go at this fork in the road, the choice in my heart is a tough one. It's got some risks baked into it. It's not the safe route. Some times I think the choice in my heart isn't even the sane route to take. Then again, when has making the sane, safe choice ever lead me to complete fulfillment?

Today I went to a baby shower for my friend, Alex. One of her college friends made a critical choice to leave behind the business world and pursue her PhD in art history, thanks to Alex's encouragement. She loved art history early on in college and had given up her dream to work in that field to take the safe business route. Before it was too late, she went back to what she loved.

Every one of her professors told her this choice was ridiculous, that she was truly wasting her life in art history, that she'd never get a job. One of them actually told her that a degree in art history and a quarter wouldn't even get her a cup of coffee. Now she works in New York and helps corporations and nonprofits build their private art collections. Turns out that a degree in art history has earned her much more than a cup of coffee. It helped her earn a happy life. The rewards of finishing what she started and following her heart.

5 comments:

The Journal of Cultural Conversation said...

Wonderful and inspirational story - your stories always make me reflect on my own priorities and goals (and how they align with my passions). Thanks Christa!

- Laura

runner52 said...

Nice story. I hope you take the fork in the road that brings you happiness and sense of accomplishment

Christa said...

Thanks Laura and runner52! Priorities can be slippery creatures.

Amanda said...

Nice post, Christa. I love that this friend-of-a-friend went back to school despite the nay-sayers. "Feh!" to nay-sayers. When you sense that someone is pursuing their dream, you should support them as best you can.

I believe that if you trust your gut with every decision you make, you will build an authentic life for yourself. Too often we worry that unconventional choices will close doors for us, when really, we're just opening the door to our truest selves.

Christa said...

Hi Amanda - such a great perspective. It can be so tough to open the door to our truest selves, particularly when so many arond us are giving their two cents in the other direction. I found this friend's perspective really inspiring!