Friday, April 25, 2014

Where you're going.

I saw it scrawled on a door downtown. 

Its message resonated with me. Or perhaps I was just drawn to the colored bricks of the nearby wall.

"It isn't where you come from, it's where you go to."

[Clearly lifted from Ella Fitzgerald's quote:  "It isn't where you came from; it's where you're going that counts."]

But what if you're not really going anywhere?

I'll be turning another year older at the end of this month.

I feel mired by my jobs and the redundancy of life.

If the past is in the past, what happens if the future doesn't look so bright?

What if where you're going isn't what you want? You can only change so much about your life. Many times circumstances choose for us.

The quote doesn't address that part.

What does it matter anyway, Dean?

In time, the saying will be painted over--no mark left--as if never being there at all.


naturgesetz said...

We think of politicians and entrepreneurs, whose careers give them some form of control over the lives of others as important: as having an impact on the world. We nay assign a similar significance to the work of teachers and religious leaders. We see these people as "going somewhere."

We think of having jobs in which a path leads via promotions to higher levels within the organization — usually involving some measure of control over other employees — as "going somewhere."

But the fact is that there are never enough higher level positions for everybody to keep moving up in the organization. So just about everybody ends up at a level which they will not rise above. (The Peter Principle" says that it is the level where they are no longer competent for their job. If true, that only applies to large organizations.)

Is it important to get to a point where we control other people? Is it important to move through different jobs?

After my first five years in the IRS, I had reached a position which I would hold for the next twenty: Taxpayer Service Specialist.* And in a few years I was at the top pay grade for that position: GS-9. My last five years were as a Tax Auditor, also at the GS-9 maximum grade. I made the switch because Washington said they were going to close the Taxpayer Service office in Boston, and those of us with seniority should take other positions if we wanted to stay in the IRS.

* For a couple of those years, I was a Group Manager in Taxpayer Service, but there were requirements of the position (monitoring employees' calls and providing correction) that I wasn't suited for, so eventually I left management and resumed the TSS position.

The TSS job had its frustrations arising from the way it was handled by the bureaucracy, but the underlying duty, answering people's questions, was something I liked doing, so I was able to keep with it with a fair degree of satisfaction. I could go home each day with the feeling that I had been doing something worthwhile, and I liked looking up the law on difficult questions.

I offer that as an illustration of my idea that "going somewhere" in the sense of getting a promotion or changing careers isn't nearly as important as doing something we can see as worthwhile and in some way pleasant. After all, even Ella didn't go somewhere different from her musical career. She was good at it, and she liked it enough to keep doing it year after year.

Of course, I understand that you'd like to have a career as an artist, and at the very least it would be good to have a single job at which you could make enough money to support yourself and have enough free time to create your artworks. I don't think you should give up that goal. As I understand it, the university job has at least some possibility of promotion to a point where you wouldn't need the store job, and you are eligible for jobs in Seattle which would also give the income and free time for you to pursue your art.

Meanwhile, if you can take satisfaction in serving the customers in the store and the university students, that's really about all most people can hope for from employment. And IMO, that's not bad.

Cat said...

Your blog is one of many examples of how you're "going". You reach other people in places you probably don't even realize; that's a gift that is rare and good.
But all the same, I wish for you the opportunity you're looking for, because even though I don't know you in person I'm a big fan and I'm cheering for you!

Unknown said...

Although i am young but i still feel this way..these very thoughts come across my mind a lot.
p.s- do checkout my blog!

Dean Grey said...


Whoa! What a detailed reply.

I appreciate the insight you've learned from your decades-spanning career.

And you're right in that I try taking satisfaction in serving/helping customers/students at both the retail/university jobs.



I'm cheering for you too!!


Shivangani Thakur!

I'm glad you understand where I'm coming from.


All of your comments are greatly appreciated!


Anonymous said...

I can relate to how you feel. I wonder the same thing sometimes. All you could do is keep looking forward.

Dean Grey said...


Agreed. Looking and moving forward as best we can.