Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again. -- F.P. JonesWhen my first child was six or seven months old, I can remember one afternoon of trying to get him to sleep for his nap. That little snugglebunny was never a good sleeper, though in all other ways an excellent baby. I would try everything, shifting him from my shoulder to my cradled arms to laying him on his belly over my forearms and still he continued to wiggle and fuss. On this occasion, I was closer than I had ever been to shaking him. I was trying to relax, knowing that my tension wasn’t going to help him to relax. My eyes were stinging with tears I was too frustrated to cry. I kept swinging him gently from side to side while I tried to calm myself down.
After a few more minutes, I realized the Bunny (still his family nickname, ten years later) had fallen asleep. Oh! I thought. What had seemed to work, and proved afterward to work more often than anything else, was that I had continued the same thing but longer. The changing from this position to that, from the swing to my arms, had been preventing him from fussing through his distraction to the point where he could sleep.
That memory surfaced recently, as I have been considering changing jobs. I don’t love the job I have now, though in this economy I am grateful that I have a fairly secure job. I work with terrific people, and the company exists to provide services to people with disabilities, so I can be proud of that. The work itself is far from what I’d like to be doing, and a better salary would be a great thing.
In this case, I am remembering the experiences of having the same frustrations in the past, and changing from one desk job to another. None of them got me much closer to doing what I really want to do, which is primarily to write. Public speaking and even some form of counseling or life coaching might be great along with it, but the real thing is to write. Changing jobs might bring in a little more money but would most of all distract me from writing for some time. I have enough experience to recognize a pattern before I make the same mistake again. It hasn’t been a mistake in the past, really, just part of the experience that helps me to know now what is not going to work.
Right now I need to fuss through the uncomfortable period of writing and working my paid job. There’s not a lot of time, and I feel somewhat guilty for the (paid) time I spend at work that I am actually writing. But if I keep doing what I’m doing, and keep looking for ways to do it better – through classes, writers group, continuing to blog though I find it embarrassing and, of course, lots of reading – instead of changing everything else around me, eventually I am going to get where I want to be. Which would be writing.