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All Things Considered

Decision making time - for real. I had found myself in a bit of a quandary recently.

First, I would like to say how much I love NPR. The other day I was listening right at the crux of my dilemma. The story was about Baby Boomers, Gen X’ers and Millennials; what the expectations were/are of each for that slice of the pie, that “America Dream.” In short, Baby Boomers, you were the last of the golden age where you can get a job, turn it into a career and have a stable place to work for the next 30-40 years of your life. Your rewards will include a white a picket fence, 2.5 children and retirement with a pension.

Gen X’ers, we watched the end of the Baby Boomers jive. Big businesses closed and people lost those forever jobs. Our courage in the “American Dream” slowly dwindled. At the birth of the tech age, Gen X’ers are on the learning curve of the technology and realizing that the education we went after, that was supposed to be our ticket to the dream, didn’t mean too much. Now it matters what the degree is in. Any just won’t due. Finance, Science, Technology degrees can almost be guaranteed success and security. Humanities, Liberal Arts majors – forget it. You may be moving back in with your parents. Millennials, you weren’t born with silver spoons in your mouth but with touch screen technology, mini handheld supercomputers and the desire to broadcast your life to the world.

Millennials have also fostered this new motivation for fulfillment. Material things are not what they desire. Perhaps this is a trickle down effect of the Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers observation that what you were once able to count on for security in life is no longer. What they want is flexibility, the option to do what is best for them. Knowing that they should consider themselves as independent seems to be the key. Truly redefining the “American Dream.” Make more of a purpose with your life on your own terms and be willing to walk away from it all if that can’t be achieved. This purposeful life with the aid of the Internet has now created a great entrepreneurial; make your own your own. You have access to the world at the touch of a button.

Chronologically, I am a Gen X’er, yet with a Millennial core. Most of this is due to the fact that I was a Gen X’er who thought I could follow the educational path with a graduate degree as well as following the fulfillment path and continue my studies in Studio Art. If all else fails, I have a graduate degree; I will at least be able to make a decent wage. I thought I could possibly earn this wage without selling my soul to the devil. Creatives are not well suited for sitting at other people’s desks from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. It is a slow death.

As I stated at the start of the blog, there are pretty specific reasons why I started to hatch this documentary idea. At the time, I didn’t know if it was partly because I was looking for my way out o f the slow desk death march. Perhaps if I were to think about it now that I see the possibilities and potential for this project, I could be on the verge of something bigger, an independent fulfilling career.

So why did I feel the need to say all that? This entire documentary project is cathartic for me (especially the writing). The crux of the dilemma from earlier and I cringe thinking about it, let alone sharing it with the world, was making the decision to move in with my parents temporarily, once my lease is up in a few months. This decision was made based on a long series of potential scenarios on how to give my complete all to this project. While on this upcoming Alaska and Hawaii trip, I will be officially out of leave and will venture into the land of unpaid leave. Since I am not swimming in personal savings I can put my hands on, unpaid leave = unpaid rent, electric, Internet, etc., and there are 41 states left to go. The momentum can’t be stalled.

I have no idea how this project will all end, but I know that when I decide I am going to do something, I don’t want to have any regrets. It’s all going to get put on the line. I am going to crowdfund, apply for other grants and source other funding, but what else can I do? It’s all on me; this is my independent venture. Repeatedly I chant my new mantra, thanks to Tony Robbins: “The cavalry is not coming. You are the cavalry.” What is the worse case scenario? Rent is the only thing that I can control and that is the biggest part of my personal budget. Now that I am tapped out of leave I will have to find a way to fund the trips AND pay for rent. I don’t want to give up my personal space but I would not be able to live with myself if there was something I could have done to insure a successful result for this project. There will be a lot to sacrifice.

As I ached and agonized over all the options, scenarios, concerns and the stress of planning the future within the context of the documentary, I had a moment of delirium when I realized this crazy, brick heavy stress was all self induced. I’m stressing out over something that is completely made up. This entire project is make-believe. How do you make plans for something that is made up? I don’t have to do any of this. None of this is something that is mandated; yet somehow, out of the kindness of their hearts, my family has really come through on supporting me, especially with this upcoming trip. Thank you again! They now have stake in this made up project, and I definitely feel the need to make this into something real.

Although this is invented, I feel compelled to do it. I feel that I need to complete this as if it is mandated. This is my fulfilling job. This could be my path to life independent from someone else’s desk. Does it really matter if we fly into Anchorage instead of Fairbanks? Does it matter if we stay in Hawaii 5 days instead of 6? Who cares but me? How can you make plans for made up stuff? Unbelievable!

I look forward to what this trip means and what it symbolizes. However, the timing of this trip is about regrets. My dear father, who I use often as my main source of practical advice and counsel, asked me some time ago how important was it that I have the opportunity to share my travels to Alaska and Hawaii with the Grahams. He strongly suggested that if it is indeed one of the goals of the documentary, than I need to change the order of the trips. I need to go sooner than later if I want to make sure that I have the opportunity to share my surrogate travels with them; time is not necessarily on my side (my grandmother just turned 90).

When first asked, I was rocked a little by the notion. Why would he suggest that?

Than I realized how naïve I was. I was hiding behind my own fear of the inevitable with this child like fantasy that the Grahams would be around forever. Even thinking about it now saddens me tremendously. How can one imagine a life without someone who has always been present? It seems unimaginable.

With this new resolve and stirred emotion, I am motivated even more to complete this story about their lives with as much as I can humanly put forth. This is a job. This is my job, a job of a lifetime and I only have this one time to do all I can. We are all placed here on this earth for a purpose. I may not be the next Rockefeller, Gates or Zuckeberg, but I do want to leave a legacy, something that proved my existence, albeit how brief in this blip of life. I challenge you all, if you haven’t already, to find your purpose.

“We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever. The goal is to create something that will.”

- Chuck Palahniuk

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