In Between

My life has been full of little interludes. Those are spaces of time that are interim between phases of full-on activity. Sometimes they are restful, and I’ve carefully planned them for recharging. Others have been dry spells. I refer to those times as being on the beach, or being on the hard; both terms I picked up from my father and his former merchant marine buddies. To them, very little could be worse than being on the hard – between ships.
I am pretty much the same way. A few months into an interim period, and I begin to get itchy and feel trapped. I’ve seen friends get stuck in a sort of frenzy when this happens. It’s best to compare it to getting your car stuck in mud or on ice. Some people sit there and continue to spin their wheels endlessly. Others calm down, get out to the trunk, and pick through the material that some thought you should have taken to the dump. You find those muddy old boards you’ve been saving just for this instance. Out they go under the wheel, and away you go.
Career-wise, this approach has life implications. Most people depend on plan A to the exclusion of all else. Despite having periods of being on the beach career-wise. I’ve moved on to new careers because I can rummage around and find something else to do when I’m stuck.
Here are some examples. When I left grad school, there were no anthropology jobs to be found. I returned to an earlier trade as a surgical technician until a job came up. Later, while working as an anthropologist, I learned some additional skills as a journalist and a videographer. Subsequently, I worked as a newspaper editor and currently work as a videographer.
I like to sum it up this way: while living in plan A, work on plan B, and have plans C and D on the back burners. Friends I’ve known waited until Plan A ran aground hard on a reef and sank. Then they started education programs as their benefits ran out. They wind up looking squarely into the face of a phantasm of their creation. Not that my plan will avoid the sort of tragedy that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused, but it may help in normal times.

On a final note, I would like you to consider hobbies. Hobbies can become career choices. My carving began as a hobby, and a friend who makes musical instruments started his business as a hobby. If the pursuit does nothing more than providing emotional support when you are on the hard, you are way ahead of many of your peers.


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