I’ve had a lot of different jobs in my life, as have many people. But I’ve also had several ‘careers': jobs where you invest time & education to advance, to become better at what you do. Where the work becomes one defining element of who you are.
One of the more important ones — it still influences me in many significant ways — was as a journalist for a large daily newspaper (circulation more than 75,000). I worked there for only about six years, but they shaped me like wind does a tree: slowly, but inexorably.
I began as an intern, talking my way into a paid position while I was still in college. Then the usual stair steps: copy person, obits, bedroom edition, city, and finally a beat. Mine was science & medicine, my favourite.
I haven’t been a journalist in many many years. Instead, I became a teacher at the university level, and a working writing coach. Now, retired, I’m on yet another adventure, serving on a couple of boards of organisations I adore. One is our state Humanities Council.
Today I went to an awards banquet, where the magazine of our state council was up for an award. Sitting w/ my two colleagues and good friends (the editor of the magazine and the director of our council), I watched as a few friends left from those early days circled through the large room. A woman on the editorial board, a colleague from another board. Mostly I listened to the keynote speaker, a well-known national journalist.
She was reminding us — but mostly me, in my self-centric world — that it’s all connected. That we can’t have a world w/ strong freedoms (the freedom for humanities scholarship, for example) if we don’t also have free press. And that we are a country quickly losing our press, as newspapers downsize or flat disappear. My own city newspaper — the one where I worked — has riffed probably close to 1/2 the people who worked there when I did.
How does this connect to beginner’s heart? The humanities (as I’ve said often before) are US, folks. Human beings. They feed our beginner’s hearts. For as surely as we need protein to grow physically, we need the humanities to grow mentally & spiritually. We need history, and science. We need architecture, literature, music & medicine. We need all these very human gifts.
In other words? Of course my different lives connected today. Because they’re always connected, as all things are. But in my case, my entire life has been grounded in writing. From very early childhood to this very moment. I just forget.
I shouldn’t. Because ‘then’ and ‘now,’ ‘here’ & ‘gone,’ are really all the same place, in a kind of relativistic way. It’s all one web, with these various life nodes bumping up against each other. It’s just that I need reminders, every so often. We all do. Hence the humanities, which remind us that we’re all humans, bumbling along. Needing the company of others, and their many many gifts.