While the employer was happy to hear from me when I followed up, and was impressed with my persistence, his original “you’ll know within two weeks” has now been extended to a “within a week, week and a half or so we’ll be informing all of the candidates of our decision.” As I expressed last week, having recently had a health crisis, this isn’t a reassuring answer, because I am now desperately in need of health care, like yesterday. As a family member pointed out to me however, “jobs don’t come along when you need them. They come along when they come along. Until then, you just kind of have to roll with it.”
See, to me that’s the thing about life: I’ve found that no matter how much one prepares, does their best at all they need to do, and works at being ready for everything, it’s so unpredictable that I believe that trying to be one step ahead of it is impossible. Chasing a life that works the way you want it to will ultimately lead both to disappointment and failure, in my experience. Instead, I prefer to live by Bruce Lee’s principle of “Jeet Kune Do,” which he typically explained as “be[ing] like water.” His idea was that water takes the shape of any container you try to put it in, or as he put it, “if you pour water into a cup, it becomes the cup” – it can go anywhere and get into everything. In my opinion, living life should like this too. Rather than constantly swimming against the tide or trying to control the uncontrollable, it’s better to use my sister’s philosophy of “hope and work for the best, but prepare for the worst.” To me that’s like a variation on the old chestnut about “trust, but verify,” and thus one with a better chance of keeping you sane. Since the world will do to us what it will whenever it will, I think being open and ready to become who you need to be at the drop of a hat, adapting quickly to that which happens to you without excessive complaint or sense of loss is an extremely useful skill. Like my family said, no matter what happens, just roll with it
The sportscaster Colin Cowherd‘s big advice to graduates is “plan your life in pencil; not in pen,” which I think is great advice in a world this unpredictable. Not finding a regular job, I returned to the seasonal position I did twice before for the time being, and was surprised to find that not only was my old boss no longer there, but she’d done a whole ‘nother position in the time I’d seen her last, before settling on one she’s doing now, which is still somewhat related to what she did as my boss, but significantly more difficult. When I expressed my surprise at how things had turned out for her, she pointed out that sometimes it takes a few tries to figure out what’s really “you.” I feel that if that is the case, that you may not even know yourself until much later in life, there is no real point in trying to get it all right the first time. The pre-Socratic scholar Heraclitus taught that “the only constant is change,” and again, rolling with that change seems to me a great way to quickly stay on the right side of it: just roll with whatever life throws at you, and trust that your level of capability will land you where you need to be.
Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying you shouldn’t focus and plan, and am myself planning to write about this eventually. All I’m saying though is that there is so much out of our control, I believe it’s best to be ready when and if the original plan breaks down. If I don’t get this or the other job I was up for, I will have to look for others. The sooner I can accept that and keep looking rather than get hung up on these “might bes,” the sooner I believe I will be ready for when it does.
If you roll with life, I believe it keeps moving. To me, not moving is when you know you’re done. As long as I can think, I believe I can move, and the more I move, the more chance I think I have to get going.
After all, what’s the alternative?