8:06 PM. Night is falling earlier on this slow slide into fall. A mirror of my days, methinks.
Monday, October 7th is an anniversary of sorts. The day will mark two years since I last plied the profession of architect full-time. Well, with one very small exception, plied it any time, to be precise. The demon of this particularity caught up to me in broad daylight. A mental mugging, minding my own business at a stoplight.
Hardly seems fair, I know. Enormous effort has been expended in the past two years, first on searching for a position suited to my training. Then when that became increasingly fruitless, Sisyphean even, my efforts were slowly diverted to searching for a position suited to my skills and interests.
You see what I did there? With the "training" segueing into "skills and interests"? I knew you could.
It was an inevitable transition, in hindsight. Anyone who has been laid off more than once knows that looking for a job is a full-time job. Old habits die hard, and I was up early and working the job lists and directories and cold-calling and frankly it ground down my resolve and self-esteem to the point where I had no energy to even be desparate anymore.
I was, though. The sheer effort in looking for an architecture job, with no results to show for it, haunts me even now. It is draining to think about it. The knowledge that no one seemed to be interested in a talented, skilled and licensed architect with 20+ years of experience (i.e. Yours Truly) is a puzzling and disheartening burden to carry. At the time, it was all I had and all I knew how to do.
Not that I have forgotten how to do it, mind you, but I have had almost no arena in which to practice it. So in essence I gave it up. I had to, so I could focus on other ways to preserve my sanity and hopefully make money. Thus, writing and photography began to eclipse what I was trained to do. Possibilities formed in my mind, of an intersection between the Want To and the Must Do sides of the coin of life.
I can say I have had some minor successes in that regard. I have exhibited in a local gallery, made some contacts in the art world, garnered some part-time work in photography, sold a few prints. So there are signs of encouragement. The writing has not had the same level of interest, it continues to be a slow go, but there have been some nibbles.
Still, the hard work continues. My figurative heels are sore and bleeding from all the nipping they endure, courtesy of the imps and demons that seem to shadow me, messing with my dreams. I fight them off as best I can, but every so often the shield slips and they get through.
Today at a stop light, a chunk of the sky fell on me and I flinched. Breathing hard through a squall of panic, my mind reeled over and over, thinking I must be nuts for trying to make so much out of nothing. The voice (you know the voice) whispered from the backbrain cave that maybe it would be best to give up carving a new path in this old jungle, when there is a perfectly good path somewhere behind me.
All I need to do is turn around, retrace my steps, and I can put down the machete. The path back there is dusty, rutted and beaten down. The rocks in it, the thorns flanking it, well they can't be as bad as the unknown overgrown thickets I am thrashing through, can they? It would so much easier to go back, would it not? Simply trade the promise of uncharted territory for the drab security (which is not so secure) I used to know?
The light changed. The breath wooshes out of my lungs. The car rolls forward, I make the turn, and try to put the past behind me. Two years before my own personal mast have taken me over strange new seas and into uncharted lands fraught with promise. It would be a shame to give up the ship when there is something wonderful on the horizon.