Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Stream of (Total) Consciousness -- 8/28/13: Dancing in the Dark

Today is an off day, not exactly by choice, but more so out of necessity. This weekend, I am meeting Emily in L.A. for a friend's wedding. That obviously means I have to get to L.A., which isn't the easiest thing to do from the middle of nowhere. Really, outside of Subway and Walmart, it's not that easy to get anywhere from here. So tomorrow, I'll make the two-and-a-half hour drive northeast to Eugene, stay in a hotel, then get on a plane Friday morning and fly back southwest to Southern California. Yet another demonstration of efficiency in its purest form.

Because of this itinerary, and because I just finished a four-day job yesterday, I was left with two options for today: go out to the resort and wait for a one-and-done assignment that might never come, or stay home and try to do something more productive. I chose option No. 2, mainly because it meant I didn't have to put on actual pants. Whether it's caddying, writing, working on my golf game, or even doing laundry and running errands, my goal for each day out here has been to be productive in some capacity. I'm a master of doing nothing, a bona fide natural, and because that comes so easily, I've had to actively fight against those inherent instincts. So given the blank slate of this morning, I figured it was the perfect time to finally do something I've been putting off, something small that signifies something so much bigger, something I've been avoiding that I won't be able to avoid much longer:

Updating my resume.

Among all of my fears and anxieties about this experience, "What happens next?" has always been at or near the top of the list. It's what almost prevented me from doing this in the first place, and it's what has loomed over my time out here ever since. I just don't do well with uncertainty -- in part because I have a general lack of faith, in part because, in a certain sense, I have an acute understanding of reality. Take my career as a student, for example. For every test I took, I rarely, if ever, definitively knew the majority of the answers. I had an idea about what they might be, but I didn't know them for sure -- meaning I walked out of every exam knowing full well that there was a real chance that I had done very poorly. This became a running joke between my parents and me -- I'd tell them I could've failed miserably, they'd predictably laugh it off, and oftentimes, they'd be proven correct. Still, I continued to warn them, knowing that it didn't really matter that I had studied (kind of...the night before...for a little bit), and it didn't matter that, generally speaking, I had made good grades up to that point. What mattered was that for these particular questions on this particular test, I had, at best, made a series of educated guesses, and the reality was that each of those educated guesses, percentages be damned, could have ultimately been wrong.

Spinning that forward, the reality right now is that I have absolutely no clue what I'm going to do when this is over. None. I have nothing figured out, nor do I have any prospects on the horizon. I've got no official address, no job on the hook, and no place to live that I can call my own. And it's irrelevant how much I've learned or grown over these last couple of months, or that I've always (eventually) found my way in the past; as of this very moment, I do not know the answer. I'm as in the dark now as I was when I exited those classrooms then.

What's interesting (foolish?) is that this was all part of the plan -- to live in the present for once, to turn a blind eye to down the line, to have this experience not for where it may lead but solely for the experience itself, and to trust that the next step would reveal itself whenever it was time to take it. And miraculously, I've largely been able to do that. The same isolation/insulation that's helped me manage being so far away from my loved ones has also protected me from the realities that await me on the other side of this venture. On a day-to-day basis, I rarely even think about it; I'm too focused on getting that next bag, figuring out that next yardage, reading that next putt.

But whenever my worlds collide and that insulation gets compromised, so does my calmness and naivete. I started thinking a lot about the next step when I was at the wedding in Tahoe, and I'm sure I'll think about it some more this weekend. It's not just the reduction in actual distance; it's the integration, no matter how brief, back into my "normal" life. You start catching up with people you haven't seen in a while, you have the "What are you up to?" discussions, you compare their progress to yours, and before you know it, you're taking stock of what you're doing and where you're going.

And with that, my mind is off to the races.

The thought of looking for a job is especially depressing because, a) I've had to do it far too often since college, and b) I'm evidently terrible at it. For whatever reason, it's always taken me forever to get hired, and I can't figure out what it is. I proofread my emails for typos. I respond quickly and politely to questions. I bathe before every interview. I feel like I do everything right, but apparently, I'm the only person who shares that viewpoint.

Beyond that, though, I'm not all that motivated to go out and get just any job. I've had plenty of those before, and they've never gotten me where I've wanted to go. While some may view what I'm currently doing as a sabbatical, as some sort of break from the real world, that's not what it is to me -- nor do I want it to end up being. This isn't about hitting the "Pause" button; it's about hitting "Reset," and this whole experience is ideally the first step towards a new and different way of living, of a new and different life. It's the start of something, not a commercial between the telling of the same, old story. So the last thing I want to do is leave here, go back to the east coast, and pick up again right where I left off.

What, then, would have been the point of all of this?

But before I get too far ahead of myself -- and before I get so anxious I can't travel tomorrow -- I have to breathe and reconnect with that whole "staying present" thing. "Meditate," my mother texted me today. My time as a caddie isn't over just yet, after all, and there's still a lot about this experience that is unwritten. Who knows what else can happen? Who knows who I might meet or where it might lead or what I might end up getting the chance to do? One step at a time, first things first, yada, yada, yada. Besides, if I'm going to worry about anything right now (beyond the Texas Longhorns' season opener Saturday night, of course), it's this:

How do you make "Caddie" sound good on your resume?


  1. I just saw Jobs.

    Steve Jobs once said that what made the Macintosh great was the fact that the people he chose to work on the system were “musicians, and poets, and artists, and zoologists, and historians who also happened to be computer scientists.”

    When you interview, tell them that and add caddies to the list!

  2. Your talent is meant for more than the world of sporting...what was the last word?...seems to have slipped my mind. So strange. Rooting for you Brent! :D

    Speaking of Jobs, one of my favorite quotes ever: "You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life." --Steve Jobs



About Me

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"It's not a lie, if you believe it." Those were the words of one of my generation's great sages, George Costanza, and the more of life I experience, the truer they ring. And while I still haven't found what I'm looking for, the search for my own personal "truths" is never-ending. Care to come along for the ride?