The road less traveled

Another night at Mom’s, another Oprah magazine.  This month’s, themed “What’s Your True Calling?,” includes an article by life coach and author Martha Beck.  In her article, “The Right Track,” Beck gives a four-step plan to finding one’s ideal career by using instinct, rather than rationale.  Beck writes,

I suspect you’ve been advised to think rationally….  That would be a big mistake.  You might expect people with damage to the emotional parts of the brain, presumably free from the distractions of emotions, to be brilliant decision makers.  Quite the opposite.  Though they retain full use of their rational faculties, such patients are tragically indecisive, endlessly debating logical pros and cons, unable to choose any path…. As Jonathan Haidt writes in The Happiness Hypothesis, “it is only because our emotional brains work so well that our reasoning can work at all.”

So if “people with damage to the emotional parts of the brain” refers to those whose emotional brains are under-developed, then this holds no connection with me at all.  But if, as I first interpreted and still suspect, it refers to people who have been emotionally damaged, then it sure does explain a lot about my desire to listen to my practical (head) brain, shut down my emotional (heart) brain, and make logical plans.  It also explains the fact that none of this has made or is making me happy.

So what if…

  • What if we didn’t care whether my engagement/our wedding rings were “real” and just went with something we could afford that held meaning?
  • What if we didn’t wait until Sept. 2012 to get married, and, since we’re pretty much married already anyway, had the wedding in Sept. 2011 instead?
  • What if we had a really small wedding, did everything on the cheap, and only invited people who have supported us from the beginning?
  • What if we didn’t have a wedding at all?  Courthouse: in, out, done, spend the money on a kickass honeymoon.
  • What if I stopped trying to figure out how to buy a house to raise my kids in, and let myself be happy renting a house instead?
  • What if we moved out of suburbia, further into the sticks of East County, so that we could save on said rent and up our quality of living?
  • Or, with that saved rent, what if I cut my work hours in half, and dedicated the other 20 hours a week to writing a book?

Notice that I didn’t say, “What if I just had a baby?”  All residual hurt and longing aside, I don’t think I would feel comfortable jumping in at that point.  And marriage leads to babies anyway, so it goes without saying that fast-tracking the rest of this plan would be one way to get what I want.

Doug will probably be upset that I didn’t tell him I’ve been thinking these things before I posted them here.  And I’ve had plenty of opportunity to tell him: we spent a nice afternoon up in Julian today, with an hour and a half of driving on either side.  But somehow saying them out loud, to him, is more of a commitment than putting them here – where he and a bunch of other people will read them, but where I still feel like I’m just playing them over in my own head, seeing how it might feel to follow my heart and my instincts and give up on this five-year-plan bullshit.

And it feels…  Scary and exciting.  Much like I imagine skydiving, or designing a first tattoo would feel.  There comes a point-of-no-return.  I’m not at that point, nowhere near it.  But if I’m ever going to get there, it makes sense that – maybe not today, but sooner rather than later – I need to stop telling myself it’s safer on the ground, let my heart take charge, and jump.

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3 Responses to The road less traveled

  1. Melissa says:

    Your what ifs are things I have/am struggling with. I did the the courthouse wedding and I don’t regret it. My parents raised me in a rented house and I never thought less of them or myself for it. In San Diego, even at this time, buying a house is a luxury that many cannot comfortably afford and have the life they want with it.
    My opinion-which means nothing 🙂 -is to really listen to your what-ifs. John and I had eight million methods of how we were going to get to where we are presently.
    When we finish working on the house-we’ll get married (ha), one can only have children if they have X amount in the bank and everything is perfect…. It goes on and on, but really what it comes down to is how you want your life. So much of the arguing in my head is over what I am “suppose” to want and do.

    There are no set instructions, just the roads that are a little more worn in than others. So I say, off-road it if you want =)

    • Marie says:

      Melissa, I would love to hear about the road you & John did end up taking, verses the ones you were mapping out originally. Especially since you say you don’t regret it. How come I’ve never seen you in the store? Are you really in La Mesa, or did you make all that up? 😉

      • Melissa says:

        Oh yes ,I am in La Mesa =). I usually only shop very early weekend mornings, I have looked around for you but so far haven’t seen you. If you would like to grab coffee some time let me know, and I can tell you how our 5 year plan went. =)

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