Saturday, March 13, 2010

“How much did they pay you to give up on your dreams?”

Over the holidays, I went to see 'Up in the Air', thanks to the local radio station (shout-out Mix 94.7!) contest that allowed me to cash in on celebrity knowledge and deft Googling skills. My prize was two tickets to the movie, a copy of the novel it is based on, and a cap and tee from the film.

As a side note, I just finished reading the novel, and it's nothing like the movie. Sure, Clooney's character still fires people and obsesses over his frequent flier miles, but everything else is a twisted take on that foundation. There are fairly important characters who are not even in the book, and some who bare no resemblance to their ink and paper counterpart. In an odd twist, I think the movie is better, but maybe the book just isn't my style.

But moving swiftly on to the point of this post. The above title is the quote which stuck with me months after viewing. It's part of a monologue Clooney delivers to J.K Simmons, who plays Bob, one of the many employees Clooney must steer through being downsized. Clooney asks Bob about attending culinary school, and his dreams of being a chef (or perhaps owning a bakery. It's been a while, and though I remember the essence of the lesson, the details and sketchy). Soon after graduating, Bob took a job with this faceless firm in order to make ends meet, pay bills and feed the family. And somehow the years passed to find him sitting across the table from Clooney, losing a job he didn't particularly like and breaking down because of it.

How much is doing what you love worth? How much is paying the bills worth? The problem is that the credit card companies react quickly when you choose to forego money, and so that need seems most important. The ramifications of taking a job you hate for menial but regular pay are less obvious and take longer to surface. But that doesn't mean that they aren't just as scary, or just as important to avoid.

Being on the job hunt, I often face the dilemma of applying to a job I could probably do, but wouldn't really want. Usually I still apply, and so far the job market has kept me from having to choose whether or not to take it, because I never hear anything from them (blessing or curse, I'm not sure). I long for stability and security, but there is always that nagging part of my brain that pushes me to aim for something more, something I love. I know that no one's first job is their last, and that I can't expect to love everything I do. But I also know the slippery slope between taking a job just until something better comes along. It's the slippery slope that ends with Bob.

This week, I've been having some crazy ideas enter my head about projects and things I could do. We'll see how many come to fruition, but I think it's a sign of my thinking of this time less as a failure to be fully employed and more as an opportunity to try some new things.

No comments:

Post a Comment