I'm not sure when I coined my life 'Monkey Bar Theory'. Perhaps around the time I changed jobs from working at a small cafe to working at the juice shop literally next door. Work in my life has always felt like swinging along a set of monkey bars: one hand on the last rung, one reaching out for the next. This is my monkey bar life.
Over the last ten (twelve? fifteen?) years, watching more and more friends evolve towards traditional lines of work or work schedules, I have regularly confronted the question "What am I really doing?" or "What do I really want to do?" These same questions have been parroted back to me through the mouths of strangers (patrons, customers, guests) who want to know what the girl who is waiting tables "really" does. To be truthful, it has struck fear and insecurity in my heart too many times. I don't have an answer, and I certainly don't have a tidy label to slap on myself before I take your order. The labels that flip through my brain never fit long enough or well enough.
Recently, after congratulating two more of my friends on joining the ranks of Monday-Friday jobbers, I wondered again: What am I doing?? And the idea of a Five Year Plan clamped itself squarely on the forefront of my mind.
The Five Year Plan triggers a couple of different reactions in people. One, they overambitiously rhapsodize the lifetime of goals they think they could accomplish in the next half decade. Two, they extol the currently-in-action, write-a-book-already Perfect Plan they are in the process of manifesting. Or three, they brain freeze, mentally scan what in the hell they might have been doing the last five years and frenzy up a pile of, "Why haven't I come up with an answer for this yet?" mental self-effacing that stretches into early next week.
And then there's the hidden fourth door.
Like pulling the book off the shelf to reveal the hidden quarters behind, this is the secret passage option which I am striving to own myself. It was finally echoed back to me three minutes into the following interview from The Inertia.
Surfer+ Kassia Meador on her 10 year plan:
"You never know where the world's going to take you. So I'm trying to be open and present in every moment I'm in and then seeing where that leads me. And just going with what feels right as well, because I think that's what's important. Rather than being like, "This is my goal. I'm going to work so hard to make that." Sometimes if you have such tunnel vision, you miss everything else that's around you and that can happen. I think it's good to be open. I think your passions can carry you through, and if you're passionate about things it will carry you to the next event or whatever happens. But I don't want to ever get too stuck on having one objective that's going to blind you to something else that could happen that would be even more rad. It's funny though, because people are like, "She has no goals. No goals!" [Laughs]"
(Pretty solid advice from someone who reads the momentary changing direction of waves for a living.)
So I'm taking heart this week, taking it easy on myself, taking the reins and insisting that NOT having a five year plan allows me to be grateful for everything I already have in my life. Lucky to wake up in a dream apartment next to a man I love, to work a job with a bunch of smart people who don't expect a stitch from me when I'm not clocked in, to have unlimited vacation days per year provided I can save up enough money to cover them. I am lucky to be happy and healthy and me. Five year plan: keep it up. BOOM!