Monday, October 1, 2018

Meditation on the first day of a 70th year

"How can I be useful, of what service can I be?  There is something inside me, what can it be?
(Vincent van Gogh)

I have two younger sisters.  My youngest sister emailed this to me for my birthday:

At many points in my life, I looked at lists of possible career choices for someone of my personality type.  When I saw that one of my options was "shepherd," I laughed out loud, and said, "Yes, that's it!  I would love to be a shepherd.  I would be good at that."  Who knows?  I wouldn't be surprised if one of my female ancestors in the Middle East took care of a flock of sheep.  I know that my sister doesn't know that I thought I would make a good shepherd.  I continue to take what I have gathered from coincidence.

Much of my life prior to retirement a year ago was spent in looking for a way to use my innate skills and be useful in the world of work.  I was useful in the medical industry as a medical transcriptionist for 22 years, but I never felt that I was making full use of my abilities, and in my last 5 years as a medical transcriptionist, the financial compensation for my work dropped to close to minimum wage due to the advent of speech recognition technology and exploitation of medical transcriptionists who work from home.

Prior to beginning to work as a medical transcriptionist at age 34, I was a production worker after having dropped out of college in 1968 and vowing that I would not take a job that supported the war in Vietnam in any way.  I lacked the social skills to be a waitress.  I lacked the simple mathematical skills to make change as a salesperson.  I refused to learn to type.  I had no "marketable skills." I remember the first time I saw this photo

and thought that I would like to have a job like that.  I proceeded to apply for jobs as a production worker.  I have come a long way since that time.  I did finish college at age 32 with a degree in English Literature and Art.  It baffles me that I would have seen a future for myself in this photo of an exploited girl, and yet I ended up working as a medical transcription subcontractor with as few rights as that girl working in the textile mills of Massachusetts where my great great grandfather who came from the Black Forest in Germany worked as a weaver in the 1800s and died of suicide by hanging at age 90.

As a child and young adult, I never pictured myself as a mother.  Never.  I wanted to be a cowgirl.  I wanted to be a doctor.  I wanted to save the world from the Nazis.  I wanted to write books.  I wanted to be an artist.  I wanted to be a librarian, but that required learning a second language, and I didn't have the confidence in myself to believe I could learn a second language.

On a personal level, the child and young adult that I was wanted an "ideal" man to love me.  I wanted that beginning when I was 6 years old and watched "Lady and the Tramp." Having watched that movie since then, I find it equally baffling that "Tramp," who is nearly as distasteful to me now as someone with a similar name who is our current president, would become my childhood vision of the "ideal" man I wanted to love me.

The brief history above does much to explain why I always test as an INFP.  

Today is the first day of my 70th year.  I am grateful to have lived a full life so far, experiencing great joy and great sorrow, and am curious as to what the coming years will bring to the world we live in.  The difficulties we face have deep roots that are more and more apparent with each passing day.  I don't know how I know, but I know that we will survive against all odds.  I am grateful for the darkness and the gentle rain in the early morning on my birthday.  

My two younger sisters wished me a happy birthday via email.  It's 2018. 

A few old and new friends, near and far, sent funny, playful, loving thoughtful cards.

I keep a low profile on my birthday.  I avoid commotion.  Peace and quiet is my wish.  A walk with a friend. Talking on the phone with an old friend from college who lives on the other side of the United States.  I enjoy being surprised by the good things that happen unplanned.  I am an INFP.

I am grateful for the community of bloggers who have been a steady part of my life since December 2006.

I am grateful for all the men that have been brothers to me in the best of ways:

My mother appeared to be healthy until the day she died of a massive heart attack in 1993 at age 78.  My father was not at all healthy when my mother died, but he lived until 89 years old when he died of congestive heart failure.  Maybe I will live 8 more years.  Maybe I will live 20 more years.  I don't have a great desire to live longer than that.

I do have a desire to be useful and of service for the rest of my life, no matter how many years I have ahead of me.  That is what I want most to say on the first day of my 70th year.


ellen abbott said...

happy birthday. the 60s were a hard decade for me to accept. I'll turn 70 in 2020. I hope that one is easier. I graduated from high school with no idea of what kind of job or career I wanted except I did not want to be an office worker in a cubical. I was an art major in college but never graduated. after a series of sales jobs I stumbled on what would become my career and started my little etched glass commission studio. my husband quit his job and devoted himself to my talent. it provided a living for us for over 40 years but we have retired from that now that we are both on SS. I still do the little cast glass art pieces and sell a few every year. people thin or rather don't think they have any choice about jobs and their lives. it's harder now I think to become self employed by selling whatever your skill is. I'm glad I escaped the corporate drudge even if we lived on the edge of poverty. our lives were our own and that was reward enough.

bev said...

First -- Wishing you a Happy Trip-Around-The-Sun Day, Am. I very much enjoyed reading this post -- about past pursuits and dreams. I smiled about the part about Tramp. I must tell you that when I was young, I wanted to grow up to "be" the german shepherd, "London" in a Canadian television show from the early 1960s called "The Littlest Hobo" -- about a nomadic dog that went from place to place helping people, solving problems and averting disasters and crimes. The logistics of growing up to be a dog didn't seem too troublesome at the time. Also interesting that we have similar degrees -- mine are in art history and English Lit. I, too, did not go to university until I had done many other things. I'm glad that you have had supportive friends along your journey through life, and that you are still curious and optimistic. I think that is what helps to keep us going -- looking forward to whatever happens next.

Sabine said...

Happy birthday, dear friend. I can relate to so much here.

Birdie said...

Jacquie Lawson e cards always cheer me up and this one is no exception. What a happy card it is!

I recently quit my job for a few personal reasons and a boatload of moral and ethical reasons. I am now unemployed and terrified because I have no idea what to do next. I had to follow my heart though.

Wishing you a very happy birthday.

Anonymous said...

Wishing you a very happy 70th birthday. You and I have so much shared history, from choosing not to have children to starting college later in our lives to being medical transcriptionists (in the 1960s with my mom who always worked for doctors) to loving quiet birthdays and just a walk with a good friend. Waving hello to you my pacific northwest sister and wishing you a wonderful 70th year.

37paddington said...

Happy birthday, dear friend! You are born in the same week as my son. I loved reading this post, and thinking of you, being useful as a light in our world, brightening the corners. Lovelovelove.

am said...

Thank you, dear friends who are kindred spirits, for your comments on my birthday post and for being part of my best birthday ever. We are going forward together, doing what we can to bring light into the world.

My life so far said...

Happy belated birthday!

"I do have a desire to be useful and of service for the rest of my life, no matter how many years I have ahead of me."

Me too:)