Like most people the hours of my employment, my paying job, often dictate how I spend my time. I try to look at it like this: I don’t have trouble making appointments because I don’t work Monday-Friday, I can make a pitcher of margaritas in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon, I can justifiably spend an entire day in bed surrounded by puppies, and one of my favorites… it’s okay to drink a glass of wine at six in the morning after a night shift.
I give myself such liberties. I offer such rewards for all the holidays I miss, the weekend BBQs, the Sundays that don’t really mean anything and the Friday nights lost to get up early for work on Saturday. I accept these trade-offs with good humor, unless you ask me when I’m on overtime on Christmas with a late call, and then I’ll tell you I hate it.
I love my ride in on Sunday at five in the morning where the only summer company on the road is men towing small fishing boats. They are lumbering along in absolutely no hurry, stopping for coffee and breakfast before dropping a line in the still water and pretending to fish.
I imagine on these damp vegetation scented mornings that the fire ball beckons the dawn on the Serengeti and I’m cruising along like Laura Croft on my motorcycle. I love seeing the sunrise in what I affectionately call the African sky. I feel so alive cocooned in my solitude as the rose coloured day breaks and the mist settles into the fields, the deep orange ball rising to glow from behind ethereal wisps of clouds that I arrive at work with a silly smile and cushion of serenity.
I have not always been this eternal optimist. I’ve had to work at it. I’ve had to stop and remind myself that the important thing is to live life and the hardest thing to do in this world is live in it. It’s a mixed blessing, much like shift work.
I’m at the end of my four night shifts and I’m tired. Irritable tired. When I say irritable I mean everything. My belly, my mind, my raw emotions and my body is irritable. I find it hard to cling to irritable as I feed my farm animals and give gentle strokes to Mrs Smith. I feel my irritation ebb away as I lay in my air conditioned bed surrounded by three angelic puppies.
I’ve heard it said that it doesn’t matter where you are because you carry happiness on the inside. I believe that all well and good, but your surroundings have the potential to be a gentle balm to your soul when you are subjected to those moments of harshness.
It’s hard to be irritable when I recognize the happiness that bubbles up when I watch the bunnies come running for their breakfast. Cup half full… I guess.
I have not had a charmed life. I wasn’t offered up heaping tablespoons of sanity, but I’ve managed to work through some big demons and achieve some big goals. I am proud to announce that I have found my happiness before I’m forty and I’m going to hold on, work to keep it and be open enough to enjoy it for the rest of my life.
It’s good to have goals, it’s even better to recognize when it’s time to change those goals as we hunt for the joy of living. It’s not failure, it’s re-direction. Often we must take great leaps of faith and put ourselves in a perception of peril in order to find that deep down contentment and achieve our labour of love.
I have a few ideas for the future. I’ve changed my goals and moved in a new directions. The best part? I’m really excited to see what happens next.