Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Epiphanies at Applebees

The other night I had an epiphany. I wish it had happened in an exotic locale, which would add another layer of intrigue to the story, but it occurred as I was sitting at Applebees, waiting for my half-priced appetizers to arrive. I know. I hope I haven't ruined it for you.

I was thinking about why I live where I live. There are some cool things about it, and there are some not so cool things about it. There are some neat places - the Cosmosphere, The Underground Salt Museum, Roy's BBQ - and there's nothing especially horrible about it. But, although I've lived her a long time, and there are people here I never want to live very far from, none of us are tied to this area. We could live anywhere. So, why do we live here?

Part of it, of course, is inertia. We're in a rut. It's human nature. Of course, I have a job, but I could get a job in almost any town. So... why here?

It finally hit me. I don't care so much about the specific town where I live as long as there's nothing horrible about it. Why? Because it's not where I stretch myself. I do that when I travel. In addition, when I'm in the town where I make my home, I'm a bit of a homebody. I like to go out to eat with friends and enjoy some gatherings with them, but otherwise I like to be home. It doesn't really make sense for me to be living in an 600 square foot apartment I'm paying thousands of dollars a month for when I can live in four times the space for a fraction of the cost and own the house. So, my home is a bigger deal to me than what town it's in - as long as some basics are met.

As is so often the case, I've been saying this for decades in another way, and just didn't recognize it. I can remember saying in college, "I could live anywhere as long as the house was great." That's why. Because the house is where I'm going to spend most of my time when I'm "home," where ever home is.

Is that a good reason? I don't know. But I figured out it's my reason. And it must be the same reason for a lot of people, because there are people living all over this country in towns much like the one I live in, who have no reason to be there other than there's no compelling reason to be somewhere else. All the research indicates that people no longer look for a job and then go where that job is. Instead they figure out where they want to live, then find a job in that place. That's why people prepare themselves with a broad base of education. Latest estimates are that today's college graduates will have 18 careers.

When this was mentioned at a group I was in the other night someone said, "You can't have 18 careers - 18 jobs, but not 18 careers." I disagree with that. I think you can have 18 careers in a working lifetime. If you're working for 45-50 years, which those folks will be doing, that's between 2-3 years in each one. Naturally, some will be shorter and some longer. I certainly consider that a career. I'm so glad I'm not still in the first job I ever had. I would be a much less well-rounded person and know much less about the world than I know now. We spend a lot of time working

This is yet another of those things people chalk up to age, when it obviously is not. I'm well into the age group of people who have one career, maybe two, and stick with them; who prepare for a job in college and work in that chosen profession. That is not what I've done, however. I'm on my sixth "focus" in my work-life, and working on my seventh. That's much more the norm these days. It's one of those things that the work world is going to have to shift with, or they're going to lose folks.

There's a great deal of talk these days about millenials and how they work to live, not live to work. This has always been my philosophy and I'm glad there's now a whole group of people in the work world who are insisting on being treated with respect for their private lives. I think it's the only healthy approach to life. You're not going to be on your death bed wishing you'd worked an extra 20 hours a week. Do something with those 20 hours that falls into the "living fully" category instead.

Well, again, I'm rambling... This has gotten off track from why I live where I live.

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