Spoiler Alert: I am not going to bomb anything, go on a shooting spree nor wreak havoc on a shopping mall. Google defines “manifesto” as a declaration of policy and aims. It is not always a crazy person’s rant. Or is it?
I am in the midst of year three of my writing career. If I were 25, no one would question what I was trying to do. At 25, it is normal to be embarking on a career. People assume that at 25, a person is just beginning what should be the beginning of 40 years of work.
But at 66, why would I begin a career? At a time when most people are winding down, I am ramping up. When most of the people I associate with are thinking a round of golf or a game of tennis is the focal point of the day, I am wondering how I work that game into an already full agenda.
So, what is my Manifesto? What is my raison d’etre?
- WORK. And not work for work’s sake, it is to work towards a goal. I have never been a workaholic. I was married to one of those. Work for him was all consuming. It is not for me. I love to write, and that is the career I am choosing. But even in my writing career, I have chosen to create retreats and workshops. It is not one type of work, but they all hang together. In addition, I love to golf, play tennis, ski, spend time with people, especially my kids. So work for work’s sake is not what I strive for. I am more about WORK to achieve.
- ENGINEER. As a verb and a noun. One Google definition of “engineer” is skillful contriver or originator of something. I like to solve problems by using experiences, tools, solutions that I have in my brain bag of tricks. One of my favorite TV shows was MacGyver. I can’t look at a paper clip the same way after seeing MacGyver save a life with one. We all have the resources around us to make life profound. I want to repurpose that paper clip.
- THERE’S SOMETHING INTERESTING IN EVERYTHING. I want to be engaged in life for as long as possible. I have been around enough old people (not including myself) to know that if we are lucky enough to live a long time, we are going to slow down. My financial advisor described it best. Aging people go through three phases: GoGo’s, SloGo’s and NoGo’s. To stay engaged in life, we need to try to see the wonder in all things for as long as possible. Because at some point it is highly likely and unfortunately inevitable that we will become NoGo’s and we won’t be able to see, feel or touch the magic around us anymore.
Everything I enjoy doing can be lumped into one of the above three buckets. As I age, the number of things I will be able to do will decline—I may be able to write for a long time, but I may not be able to play tennis forever, nor snow ski, nor facilitate workshops. And perhaps when my fingers can no longer bend a paperclip into a lock pick, I will still see the potential in every paper clip, and relish in the wonder of making do with what we have at hand.
As I work on this writing career, I sometimes lose sight of what my reason for being is. I feel the weight of wanting the end product before I have put in the work. No book writes itself. No book sells itself. It takes energy and grit to get it done. I’m not so very different from everyone else. I don’t always want to do the hard work. I want things just to happen.
But, of course, for us mortals, it doesn’t “just happen.” You know the saying, “Behind every successful man is a woman?” For most of us women, the only thing behind our own success is our own foot, kicking us in the ass to keep going, keep trying, keep working.
Unless, if you are like me, you have three kids kicking you in the butt to get that next book written.
I guess I’m one of the lucky ones.
This blog was prompted by the song title, “What You Waiting For?” by Gwen Stefani