I have some odd and varied interests. At times, I can be known to have a short attention span. Sometimes I balk at commitment. While I love my job, I am often contemplating career changes or dreaming about other occupations. There are days when I am trying to figure out how I could have three or four part-time jobs and still build a life. Some call this flaky, but I recently read a book by Margaret Lobenstine that called these characteristics part of having The Renaissance Soul. While I don’t mind being a flake, I quickly latched onto the idea of being a renaissance soul. It sounds quite fetching and I ponder its many meanings.
According to the book, Benjamin Franklin was a renaissance soul. Anytime I can be in Ben’s camp, it sounds good to me! Once we enter into our careers, we don’t always get a chance to dabble or experiment in other fields. Occasionally, our volunteer roles give us an opportunity and sometimes the multitasking day of a parent requires a whole different spin! Sometimes economic disruption introduces a whole new set of plans. For some, an internship is a great way to try out a career. An informational interview can satisfy curiosity and a career test may give you hints at a future possibility. What do you do, though, when you’d like to wander or change or try something new, but aren’t sure where to begin? A trip down memory lane may be just what’s needed. I’ve had a few odd jobs, a few odd duties, but three experiences stand out today. Here’s part of my rambling resume:
Wedding photographer – I did this just once, as a favor to friends whose son was getting married on a low-low budget. I had a new, fairly fancy digital camera and an extra memory card. I took at least 1,000 pictures, hoping at least one was worthy. I had fun darting in and out, taking pictures at odd and assorted angles. It was lovely to take part in a young couple’s romantic first steps, in the midst of the heat of the late summer sun and a short afternoon rain shower. I don’t have the photography skills to keep this up, but it was a kick to try on the profession for a day. I was brave and creative in my choices, because I didn’t limit myself, and a few of those pictures did turn out okay.
Face painter – For anyone who has known me since childhood or adulthood, they will know that I am not a typical artist. I don’t really draw or doodle. I was one of the few kids who cried when she was handed crayons. They could not tear me away from the kitchen play area in preschool when it was supposed to be coloring time.
There are face painters who create amazing, though temporary, art on people’s cheeks and foreheads. A fellow has a booth at the farmers’ market and I’m always anticipating the young faces transformed by his talent. About a year ago, I got to try on the job of face painter. I was staffing a school carnival, assisting with recycling and composting, and as a draw (oh, how I love puns) to our table, we offered face painting. My lovely artistic co-worker was not available that day, so I was in charge of the face painting crayons. I drew simple things like hearts, balloons, and stars. My most complex “art” was an earth, a round circle with some blue and green thrown in, with the continents looking more like a big Pangea mess than distinct landforms.
I became particularly adept at recycling symbols and discovered that my favorite place on a face to paint is the forehead–mostly big and flat and not squishy like cheeks! Lots of fun for an afternoon, but I think I’m retired from this gig. What I loved about this experience, I became an artist because I thought I could.
Concession stand worker – In high school, the highly lucrative home-game concession stands were given to the junior class to raise funds for the senior class trip. I ended up staffing the concession stands during the varsity boys basketball games most of the winter of junior year. I loved dishing up Frito pie, giving back quarters in change for purchases of candy, and reaching into the giant jar of dill pickles with the pickle spear. I was covered in the perfume of popcorn and enjoyed every minute of it. It was low-tech, no cash register, and simple. I craved the order of lining up packages on the counter, counting back change, and then putting everything away at the end of the night. I was playing store, but in real life. Maybe with my high school concession stand skills, I could run a food truck someday. Or sell healthy food from a bicycle trailer?
It’s fun to think about those odd jobs and the many others I’ve had along the way. The themes that run through these jobs are the simplicity, the order, and the very direct and tangible duties. As I contemplate career changes and leap into life’s wonderful disorder it helps to remember this.
What kinds of jobs would you like to try for a day, for a week, or forever? What makes your heart sing and your soul soar in the midst of the mundane duties of daily work?