Ticking Clocks

The question comes up often: Why don’t I do this full time? Travel. Write about travel. Make it my job, my life.

I envy some of my fellow bloggers who have put careers on hold, sold their belongings, and set off around the world. The guy who writes the voluminous how-to guides, the Australian midwife, the intrepid budget travelers, all those couples on open-ended global honeymoons. It’s what I should have done at their age. In my twenties, I wanted to live abroad. Sometimes I regret that I didn’t. Sometimes.

The thing is I have a career. I’m a writer, an editor, a journalist. I work on magazines. I’ve worked for a long time to become good at my vocation. I endured crap jobs that paid so little I lived on rice and macaroni & cheese. I moved from city to city following the next job.

And I am good at what I do. Not as good or successful as I’d hoped, but good in the way that a master calligrapher in Japan perfects writing kanji characters with his brush and ink over hours and hours and years and years. And even then he knows there is more to learn.

My work is who I am. And I want to do it for as long as I can.I like my work. I have a good job where I work with some of the finest people I’ve ever known. I make enough of a living — better than I imagined I would. It enables me to travel as often as I do. And it’s given me the little yellow house where I live with the two animals who make it the first real home I’ve had since I was a child.

For all these things, I can’t give up my work yet. It is who I am. And I want to keep doing it for as long as I can. But I know it is coming to an end.

Time is running out on my career. I see it coming. I see it all around me. Friends my age, family members, and former co-workers now call themselves consultants or semi-retired. They reached the peak of their careers, or someone decided they cost too much money, or their employers wanted new ideas. Hopefully, they got a nice severance to help them move on to the next thing. The next thing has become hard to find.

One of these days that will happen to me. Someone will tap me on the shoulder and tell me it’s time. I’m preparing for that day.

When the time comes to move on, I will. I’ll be that skinny American sitting in some cafe or bar in Asia, South America, or maybe Finland. Let’s have a drink sometime.

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