(a CASKA photo)
I am one of those folks who does a lot of stuff, and when I do something I really do it. Once I develope an interest, I often get obsessed with learning and doing more with it. Like sea kayaking. Once I took JB's course at 'Baga, I was hooked. I got a boat and was on the water every moment I could find free to do so. The next summer I was back to do instructor training and evaluation. I started teaching at symposiums and took advanced rescue scenario classes. I built a wood boat from a kit. I built a skin on frame and got a traditional style paddle and a tuilick. Now, certified by the ACA, I have to decide whether or not to do the BCU package which, in the final analysis, covers the same ground. After all, don't they tell us that if we stop growing we die?
That was all by way of introduction (the ultimate digression), now for the meat. I own the trademark Work/WorkShop and do seminars, trainings and one-on-one education around careers. The group that interests me the most is the mid-life crises bunch, usually men. Most of these guys are "successful" and miserable, having risen to the top of a mountain they had wanted to climb only to find there's nothing but ice up there.
Zen teaches that we think with and are driven to suffering by our egos. If so, it begs the question for whom are we climbing the mountain? The answer is often to impress others and/or to meet the expectations of others. In they end, they could care less, and we are left alone atop an inhospital pinnacle.
When is the last time someone turned down a promotion that took them out of field work (which they loved) and into management (which they knew nothing about and didn't like doing)? To say "no" to a step up is to say, "I resign." Why would you turn down the honor, the prestige and the money? Well, you might, but your ego wouldn't.
I have a copy of a cartoon (I don't show it here because I do not have the author's permission...but I digress). It shows a man in a business suit, carrying a brief case and standing in the lobby of an office building. The design of the floor consists of large square tiles, and he is standing looking down at the one he is in. Next to it is a sign that reads, "Square #1. The captions, which is what he is thinking, reads, "This feels pretty good right here."
So, how far are you going in your career? In paddling? Do you actually like lazy paddles on quiet rivers but have "evolved" to big water upon which you never feel comfortable? Has acquiring more and more equipment become boring? Do you no longer look forward to going out with the gang...the group that insists on seeking out 6-foot waves? Would you rather be alone or with one or two others on a quiet inland lake? Who do you paddle for? Do you really need to be an instructor and, if so, how many letters do you need on your resume?
When was the last time you looked forward to a paddle and enjoyed it without worrying about meeting someone else's expectations? Perhaps that one time was your square #1, and there is nothing wrong with staying there...but you have to give yourself the permission to do so.
Disclaimer: None of this applies to DM (kayakwisconsin.net) who still has the goal of standing on one finger in his cockpit :-)