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My Life Is My Career

Christine Maccabee

Chapter One: What a Life!

This winter I had an old dog friend of mine euthanized. She was not a dog I would have chosen, but she chose me after the death of my daughter's fiancée left her homeless 15 years ago. Before she was taken into the kennel at the Humane Society to be gently ushered out of this world which she loved, I took her head in my hands and thanked her for being a blessing to my life and told her and the people around us that she truly was a gentle and beautiful spirit. I do not know if she was thanking me or not, or thought of me as a blessing to her life, but that didn't matter. The fact of the matter was, she had enjoyed years of joy basking in the sunshine curled like a ball in the wild grasses and she had experienced many moments of pleasure with my other daughter exploring streams here in the mountains and valleys of our home in the Catoctins.

As I religiously feed my chickens and ducks and melt ice in their water containers with hot water on frigid winter days, I think to myself, "What a life!" How is it that an aspiring performer of everything from original to classical music spends most of her time tending to the well-being of both animals and plants, not to mention grandchildren, music students, and friends, cleaning house, and remaining poor…at least monetarily. How is it that all the disappointments of career and difficult relationships have brought me to this point, in my early sixties, wondering how it would have been "IF ONLY"…if only what?...if only I had not known hard times? … if only I had been "discovered" and my ability as well as my message to the world had flourished?... if only I had had a REAL career??!

I am not really one to give up easily on my vision for my life, but I must say, it has been humbling to watch as my castles crumbled, taking my dreams for my life with them. Still, I am fully aware that most people in war-torn countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan and certain countries in Africa, not to mention a good percentage of the world's population, are lucky to have even the basics of life. As for a career in some area of their expertise, or talent, not only is the competition in the modern world tremendously overwhelming for even the most talented people, but opportunities to nurture and enhance their talents are dismal. Plus, the abyss of poverty in which they live is totally disabling. How then to have a career with all these setbacks ?

My answer to this question, at least for myself, is fairly simple, although not entirely easy to digest. It comes to me more frequently the older I get. Perhaps I am just less idealistic, or perhaps I have become humbled so many times over that I have no choice but to succumb to it. The only answer worth exploring, and a sure way around any grief, regret or disappointment, is to say to myself, like a mantra: "My LIFE was my career." Cleaning up after sick animals and children, nurturing wellness with herbs and good food and pure thoughts, playing my music for the joy of it and not for high ambition, learning how to love well, accepting the truth of my frailties and my limitations and most of all, not regretting the poor choices and setbacks in my life MUST be my answer. Most of all, to see that all I have done over my lifetime, especially the high points, the birthing of three beautiful children, the essays, poems, and songs I wrote from pure experience, the animals and plants whose lives affect mine so deeply, the "O Holy Night's", the "Verdi Requiem Mass", the "Concerts for Love of the Earth" moments, WERE my career.

Even this winter's gentle ushering of my dear dog friend out of this life into the next was part and parcel of why I exist. How to see, how to experience, my entire life as meaningful at all times requires me to let go of the concept of career as commonly conceived. To perceive ALL that I do and have done as my career alleviates both stress and regret and permits me to be more loving and generous both to myself and others.

What a relief to finally be able to say, "My LIFE was my career!"

Read other articles by Christine Maccabee