Of Native Masks and Khaki Pants

Native MaskMy muse is getting the better of me tonight.  It’s Friday and I feel tired and ready to sleep.  Yet, when I attempted sleep, a curious memory crept into my head.  A memory that I feel compelled to write about.

It starts with an exercise that my life coach, Gracie had given me the year before.  We were discussing my fear of leaving Minneapolis for an extended trip, and the opposing arguments that were battling for control over that decision.  Her instructions were to first assign an object that represented each of these opposing arguments.  For the first argument, I chose a native mask, similar to the one that my friend Jo had bought for me when he traveled to Bali.  The native mask represented the side of me that wanted an adventure.  It was the voice of risk and adventure.  For the opposing argument, I chose a pair of Khaki pants.  These pants represented my comfortable life where I was gainfully employed and living a stable life.  It was the voice of reason.  Or at least I thought.

Next in the exercise was to visualize a confrontation between the two objects.  Each object has the opportunity to present their truth and convince me why I should listen and side with their reasoning.  The pair of Khaki pants obviously cited the risks of giving up my stable life and regular income.  Compounded with leaving my friends behind and adopting a life that resembles something akin to homelessness, really put some fear in me.  The native mask counteracted these assumptions by reminding me that 1) I could re-acquire all of my belongings when I was ready, 2) It was unlikely that I’d stay homeless and due to my intelligent nature would likely find a job when I returned, and 3) that I had proven to myself time and time again that with traveling, there’s really nothing to worry about.

Lastly in the exercise, the two objects were to “size each other up” and consider establishing some type of common ground between their philosophies.  In the end, we agreed that while both sides looked a little weird and odd to each other but they could both live harmoniously and be non-judgmental towards each other.  And of course, the native mask won out and I skipped town for four months on my grand adventure.

Flash forward 4 months after I return.  I’ve finally landed some work with a small company that I think will offer me some flexibility with my time.  I’m making less than I was before, but I’m also much more relaxed with the people that I’m working with.  Up to accepting this opportunity, I really struggled with interviewing for work. None of the opportunities felt like they were that perfect or interesting to me.  In fact the current opportunity I’ve taken is not perfect either.  I know I shouldn’t expect so much.  But it’s Friday night and I’m lying in bed thinking about the native mask and the khaki pants and realize that the khaki pants don’t even resemble khaki pants anymore.  I’m not even sure they exist.  If they do exist, they’re probably brightly colored with Polynesian hieroglyphs painted all over them.  It’s an indicator.  I don’t feel comfortable dressing up in a business suit that doesn’t represent who I am as a person.  And then trying to create the best impression knowing that I must be careful in how I represent myself.  Talking about taking off for 4 months will only be met with curious looks, glazed over eyes, and worry by the corporate establishment.  It could very well look like someone in khaki pants looking down at me dressed in a native mask and a loin cloth.

It’s interesting when you finally realize that no company is ever going to give you the life that you want.  You need to create that for yourself.  In the interim, I’m trying to surround myself with other people that have scaled back their life and exited the corporate world to work for themselves.  I have projects and passions that I hope to dedicate more time to.  And of course, there’s travel.

There will be other adventures.  With each step on my journey, I hope to do things better and to open myself up more to what this life has in store for me.  It’s an odd feeling returning home.  When you initially return home, nothing feels different.  Everyone and everything around you feels the same.  In fact, you’re so happy to be home, that even you feel very much the same.  And then it hits you, 4 months after you’ve returned home, you realize that nothing is the same.  Like those khaki pants, you’re now unrecognizable.  Your personality and feelings are now brightly colored and painted with the hieroglyphs of the experiences that you’ve experienced along the way.

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