Go for the gold, show me the money, be a good parent, do the right thing, my head is swimming

by Will Baker

 

Change is a funny thing. And so are our goals, yearnings, and the indicators by which our success is measured. I have recently been offered an exciting employment opportunity. Anyone who has read my work probably knows that I currently reside, and ply my trade in the beautiful state of Vermont. Vermont is a unique and wonderful place. The landscape is at times quiet and peaceful and other times awe-inspiring. And the people reflect the landscape. They are, for the most part, kind and gentle, polite, reserved, and very self-sufficient. Vermont is the kind of place where my wife and I would love to continue raising our daughter. But…if I accept the job offer I will have to up-root my family and relocate to the western slope of the Rocky Mountains, a breath- taking place in and of itself.

I am approaching the decision point with a great deal of trepidation, and I have to make the decision soon. My family and I are quite comfortable here. We are established and well liked. Our daughter is not yet three years old, a good age I am told, for making this type of change, should we decide to move. My family and friends will support us in our decision to move, should we so decide, however they have made it clear that they do not wish us to leave.

Last night my wife asked, "if we do not accept the offer, does that make us losers?" It’s a good question and one that I wish I had an answer to. By most accounts we would probably be considered "successful" right now. However, should I accept this job offer, my family would have significantly more financial resources available. And in this materialistic society, we are feeling pressured to go for the cash, or be branded "losers," not by our friends and family, but by ourselves. Is this due to the way we have been culturalized?

So do we want more money, and the freedom of action and the opportunities that it would provide, or do we want to guarantee living in perhaps the best possible location where our child can be raised? Of course we went through a "pros and cons" exercise. It was an interesting diversion, yet it provided no real answers. This morning I was speaking about all of this with a casual acquaintance of mine. I told him that for perhaps the first time in my life I did not know what to do, and time is getting short regarding the decision. I am intrigued by the job offer, yet reluctant to take it, or to pass it by. I know that if I do accept it, my life and the lives of my family will probably change forever, and I am not sure if all of the change will be positive. However, if I pass it up, I know that an opportunity like this one will probably not present itself again. My wife and I are ready for an adventure. However we are trying to determine if it will conflict with any responsibilities we may have.

Go for the gold, show me the money, be a good parent, do the right thing, my head is swimming. It has been my experience that in situations where logic and analysis comes up short, one must listen to the heart. I am reminded of some old Tom Petty lyrics: "she will listen to her heart…it will tell her what to do…" I can only hope that my heart will tell me what to do.

Change is a funny thing. When we are not happy with our present situations, for whatever reason, change can be a godsend. But when we are, for the most part content, change can be something to be avoided. But there is change in every moment, as we are called forward to be something better than we are. And our goals are strange creatures also. They are an attempt at articulating that which we wish ourselves to be, by way of a roadmap, which will take us there. But sometimes these goals, these dreams, take on a life of their own. They sometimes become a sort of animal that drags us down the street, as we desperately hold onto a leash which we are reluctant to let go of. For we all know that when our dreams die, sometimes a piece of us dies with them.

We all want to be successful, whatever that means. I believe that success is something that is defined differently by different people. We have all heard stories about folks, rich in material wealth, who struggle with feelings of emptiness and despair. It seems to me that these folks may be attempting to buy that which is absolutely free. I am not a poor man, far from it, but I am also not rich with material things. But I suspect that I may enjoy a wealth of intangible assets, which I most certainly do not wish to compromise.

We all have to make tough decisions, and then live with the consequences of our actions. We can see and experience these consequences all about us. Some good, some bad, such is the nature of human kind. These decisions are where the "rubber meets the road." I know with my mind that once I become secure in my convictions, boldness serves me well—I have never been accused of timidity. Conversely, it is said, "the swiftest stroke often goes astray." But there is a difference between rashness and boldness and the actions often result in different outcomes. And now I must listen with my heart, and hope it will tell me what to do. Rarely have I had moments of inspired clarity, but I need one now. Yet here is where the irony lies, for it seems to me that clarity is most elusive when it is sought.

 

(Essay Collection)