Life, work, and happiness

I have been looking for employment since early May. Résumés and cover letters have been sent via email and mail at about 10-20 per week. I have had one interview for a web designer position, but so far no job. The frustration is creeping into my thoughts and actions… into my soul.

For several years I have worked in the IT field — mostly database, systems, and network administration. My bachelor’s degree is in computer science. The last semester of my senior year in college, I really wanted to switch my major to English with an emphasis in secondary education. I thought I would make enough money to return to school. I never did.

I do not mind the IT field. I enjoy working with networks, servers, and computers. I am growing tired though of keeping pace with the changes in technology. I still enjoy reading about technology and development, but it does not hold the allure it once held for me.

Perhaps it is that now I am married and have three children. I enjoy being around my wife and kids. IT requires a lot of one’s time. It does not give time to family or personal pursuits very readily. Time has to be carved out and protected. But even that does not prevent it from being returned to working out a sudden IT problem. Life, work, and happiness have never been easy pursuits. But does it have to be this way?

IT does not provide the happiness it once did for me. There are moments of discovery that give me a rush, but not as often as they once did. My feelings lately have been more those of feeling locked in… jailed. I think with the right job at the right place for the right pay those feelings will dissipate and I will find happiness in my IT work again.As I work in “job search mode” several hours each day, I am experiencing the tug of a couple of old interests of mine — reading and writing. I used to read at least a book a week. It could have been anything from Hemingway, Steinbeck, or Bradbury to Thomas Merton, Kathleen Norris or Thich Nhat Hahn to anything on the Beatles. I read a lot and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I also enjoyed writing fiction and poetry. The poetry was not all that impressive. The fiction was, but I did not submit many of my manuscripts. And the one’s I did submit were often selected for publication. Some even drew the attention of editors. One short story, “The Subway,” was nominated for an Illinois Arts Council Award in the mid-1990s. It was not long after that I stopped writing. At the time, I believed life and work got in the way of my writing.

Tonight, I picked up a book that I read in the early-1900s. It was a book by Thomas Merton. In his book, Thoughts in Solitude, he wrote:

A man knows when he has found his vocation when he stops thinking about how to live and begins to live…. When we find our vocation — thought and life are one.

Last autumn, I began working on a screenplay and I felt alive. But after 90 pages, I got pulled into some time-intensive projects at my former job. I have not worked on the screenplay in almost three months. But the urge is there.

Perhaps writing has been my vocation all along and the discovery was 10+ years in the making.


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