What would the conversation consist of if the you you want to be interviewed the you were were or are right now?
I am a HUGE advocate for making choices and never looking back. Much like driving down the road, the minute we start to look into the past, we often start to drive in circles and eventually crash. My motto has become that of the 19th-century monk, Boniface Wimmer: “Forward, forward. Always forward!”
I also believe that where you are now is always at the perfect time. Every choice, decision and consequence we experience in life create a blend of experiences and attitudes, with their share of challenges to make us perfectly suitable to life at the present moment. Even the work we feel an inner pull to follow in later life only makes sense with the bumps and bruises of our earlier self.
With all that said, I am going to look back at my younger self, and pose some questions – complete with their answers from the less-experienced me. What would it be like for me to coach my younger self?
My history is rather involved, so here is a quick description to get you up to speed. I became Catholic in high school, went off to college seminary then joined a monastery for four years. I was sent to complete my Master’s degree, and then I left monastic life just before ordination. After leaving the monastery, I chose to work as a full-time parish worship and music director. At the time of this interview, I’m doing very well. I’m well-known as a musician and composer, making a high salary, and I’m quite successful.
May this interview be a teachable moment for me…and for you.
New Self: Are you happy?
Old Self: Honestly, no way. I dread coming into work each day. This work has become an albatross on my back for years, stemming from when I started doing it. You know, I really didn’t want to do this work to begin with, even though I’m becoming well-known for being good at it! I just needed a job when I left the monastery, and this seemed like a good fit for what I could do.
I’ve felt nothing but frustration, even anger. I don’t fit. I don’t feel supported. Everyone loves what I’m doing, but I hate it. I get migraines before every rehearsal, and I rejoice on the days when I’m sick and can’t come to work! Quite frankly, I feel very disillusioned in all this, and I want out in the worst way. The problem is that I feel trapped. I don’t know what else I could possibly do. So I guess I’ll just keep plugging away, put up with the personalities and politics, and look forward to finally retiring.
New: It sounds like things aren’t what everyone thinks they are. Truthfully, I can feel the frustration in your voice, the choices of your words, and even your hunched body posture. You honestly don’t seem happy, so it’s good that you can be honest about that.
You also sound like you’ve condemned yourself to this work out of a sense of entrapment. You say there isn’t another way out of this. That you are going to just put up with everything until you retire. But from my end, I think when you retire, you are going to be one bitter old man! You’re already there, in case you haven’t noticed. You do know you’re going to die one day? Is this how you want to be then?
Old: No way! I’ve thought about that a couple of times. I know that if I keep doing what I’m doing, I’m going to just get worse and worse, and I’m going to end up at my deathbed, wishing I had done something different.
New: Like what?
Old: I have no idea! I just want to do something that gives me joy, that makes me happy, that helps me to spread that happiness to everyone else. I guess I could entertain people, but that’s a hard life. And it’s too late for me to go back for another degree and start over, though. I’m married with two children already, so I can’t make time to do all that. I can’t afford it. That’s why I feel so trapped.
New: What do you like to do, though?
Old: I like to entertain people, like I said. Of course, I also like to talk with people one on one. I always liked doing that. I guess I could say that I really like to help people. That’s all I do here at the parish office: help the staff people with their own problems and stresses. I usually know what’s on the mind and heart before they say anything, so it’s easier for me to get to the bottom of things. They like it, and I feel so much more alive – really alive! – afterwards. But, like I said, I can’t get another degree so I could do that for a living.
New: I noticed how you perked up just now. Did you? What’s holding you back from doing it – from helping people for a living?
Old: I told you already! I don’t have the time or money to get another degree. That’s why I’m still doing this job. I can do it, and it pulls in the money. True, I never see my family since I work seven days a week – even on vacation! But that’s the sacrifice I have to make. I don’t like it, but it’s all I can do.
New: Do you really believe that you can’t break out of this? I don’t think it’s true. You’ve got some talents you haven’t owned yet, like….
Old: Just stop there. Those “talents” you’re talking about are wrong around here anyway. No one will ever accept them. It’s fine to entertain people with, but that’s it. It doesn’t feed a family. I can’t do that.
New: So you’re just going to stay stuck…by choice?
Old: I just don’t see any other way. I’m stuck. Period.
I would love to end this interview on a positive note, but it doesn’t. I chose at the time to remain stuck, to refuse to think outside the box, to live a life of real misery.
Living my dreams was not an option. All that changed later, after a lot more suffering, anxiety and intense frustration. I waited.
What about you?
Don Marlette is, among many other things, a member of the No Limits Life team. His unique blend of psychic insight, mediumship and practical wisdom guide spiritual practitioners and everyday people through the perils of everyday getting by to build lives that feel like they are singing their heartsong. Learn more at http://www.nolimitslife.guru