Last night at dinner the conversation swerved to my personal no-mans land “Where do you see us in five years?” At this I stuttered, stammered, and quickly shut up before I said anything smart-ass or ill considered. It’s not that I don’t see us together in the next five years. I can’t imagine being anywhere else until the wheels fall off, it’s just that I’m not a planner. That’s probably my greatest shortcoming (along with run on sentences and a general dislike for punctuation). I fail to plan, and tend to keep the scope of my long range plans within the confines of the calendar on the wall, or the next scheduled travel destination. That, I can tell you about in detail, with maps, travel itineraries, and a language course.
Some nights I think my partner plays a mental game with me and I’m not sure I have all the rules, or, are even aware when the game begins. It starts like this.
Spousal unit- ” I’m so damned frustrated at work I could just spit!” (She’d never actually say spit)
To this I can take either of two paths-
One- The traditional rescuer role- I’ll fix it honey. This ones tricky. You must use the right amount of humor, humility and grace or you’re an overbearing clod.
or #Two- the mirror on the wall- Tell me all about it and get it off your chest. I know you just need to be heard.
Ok, here’s the tricky part- which role do you play and when?
So you look for clues, like “what do you think” which is obviously looking for a #1 answer, or ” I hate it when” which is a #2 answer. The best one so far ” I hate bureaucracies and I’m buried in one. How did this happen?” I’m still working on puzzling this out. Do I fix it? Listen and shut up? Or wait for more clues? I waited which got me the follow up question “where do you see us in five years?” I’m still stumped.
I think the SU (spousal unit) wanted to confirm that this job, position, arrangement was temporary and that a brighter future is in the works. BUT WHAT?
Guess thats another thing to add to the list. The list thing? it’s becoming a hydra on steroids.
Here’s what I know. The American dream of a house, partner, 2.2 kids, and a picket fence is appealing to me. I like being grounded and centered. I want to put down roots, build traditions and community with my family. I have a partner, 2 pseudo kids, 2 actual dogs and a rental home with a privacy fence. Not exactly the dream, but not bad so far. Right? I’m going to school full time focusing on my navel (self improvement) and education. That bit wasn’t hard.
The end goal is more illusive- here’s the picture. Self sufficient, self employed, touring with SU’s band doing incredible meaningful music, travel internationally, and cramming in sailing trips to exotic and not so exotic ports at regular intervals. This new and improved lifestyle means paring down what I’ve taken my life to build. I find myself asking these existential questions “if I chase the dream, what will that do to my retirement accounts?” and “will I regret it if I don’t go for it when I’m still young enough to enjoy it?” So when I hear what do you see yourself doing in five years, I really hear those existential questions loud and clear and I don’t have an answer for that yet.