Sunday, October 18, 2009

When buckets are empty, they echo.

E. echoes.

Biological tick-talking, his voice comes and goes
Resistant only to the societal woes and it echoes
Echoes in the pit of my gut, shunting words, and yes
Shutting doors of past preoccupations, in digress
Confessing the intimate secrets of the skeletons, these
Hidden here in front of my closet, an illogical mess. 10/18/2009

My poem is about my life-career paradox. Should I continue on this semi-comfortable path I've been developing for the past couple of years or should I start on a new, potentially more fulfilling career? My mind is acting like I'm running out of time. But I am running out; every second of every day. You are running out and the world is running out.

I have been having a time of it lately with this decision. I used to be so certain of my career. That was high school. In college, I pursued a degree in Psychology, so that I could become a Primatologist. I discovered that the field was filled with warm-fuzzy, "Save the Chimps!" propaganda-happy women working for a cause that was a mere blip on the radar of issues in the global community (no offense, Jane Goodall). At the time, I felt that I needed something harder, something edgier, something that would impact more than just a few primates at the zoo. So, I took a turn down Science Ave. For three years, I worked in a lab doing genetic work on endangered species of frog and graduated with a degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
Because of my experience in molecular genetics, I landed a job in a lab in Texas working on an endangered lizard's genome. The problem is that I don't enjoy being in a lab all the time because I miss out on one thing about life I enjoy most: being surrounded by nature. Moreover, it's hard to compromise my resource-conservation ethics with a job that requires the disposal of thousands of plastic tips, the use of environmentally-detrimental chemicals, and consumption of non-renewable energy. Does my many months of work on the Texas Horned Lizard genome cancel out this resource waste? Should it matter this much?
I struggle. I struggle every day now with this decision. Examining and re-examining the potential paths that my career could take. I blame my indecisiveness on multiple childhood readings of "Maybe you should fly a jet!" by Dr Seuss (1980). I also blame my psychology, and the paradox of choice. Young people, now more than ever, are faced with almost infinitesimal options daily... from seemingly irrelevant decisions to life-altering choices. Which one of 100's of cereals, which one of 10000's of partners, which one of 100000's of jobs? Which ONE will you choose?

I echo: "Why only one?"

My dilemma is this: If I continue on to graduate school in the same field, will I be shutting doors to potentially-more fulfilling opportunities?

Is my bucket empty or is it too full?
Is the grass really greener or am I hallucinating under here again?


Anonymous said...

All I have to say is DITTO. I feel I have purchased time with being a mom, but I definitely never know if I should go on in a career that may make a small impact or something that makes a larger one or go into politics or be an eternal volunteer. I just never know anymore, and I definitely wish we could just do it all...have 5 careers if we so choose! Good luck with whatever you decide and know that any positive impact is better than no impact!

Emma said...

Thanks, M. Sco. Glad to know someone empathizes. I agree: any positive impact IS better than none at all. I'll stick that comment in my bucket for sure.

Robert Villa said...

I think one of the greatest challenges enlightened-educated people face is finding a field that allows them to dissemenate their ideas and concepts interdisciplinarily and eventually to the bigger picture which would have influence in the progression of the bigger picture (environment, health, social issues, etc. etc.). How does one find and use one's rosetta stone to contribute to the bigger rosetta stone(s). I hope I don't sound out there too much.

Robert Villa said...

Nice writing by the way :)

Guy R. McPherson said...

It's great to have you back, Emma. Your question is one for the ages, but never more than this particular age.

I recently made the decision to give up one great career for another, and I couldn't be happier. May you have similar good fortune as you career-hop through your life.