Under the Table, Dreaming It All Up Again

Originally published on LinkedIn in February 2018.

The clock didn’t chime. There was no reminder in a calendar, not even a post-it note. No reminder was needed to declare a year had passed since I’d left my job at ANZ in late January of 2017. It was a decision that I’d been mulling over, in those days, for quite some time.

But it was the right decision.

It was getting hard to see the road ahead. The metaphorical road, of course. Not an actual road. My eyesight is ostensibly 20/20. Except in the morning, where it’s closer to 20/What the hell time is it and why is there no coffee?

I needed to figure out what was important to me. What mattered? What didn’t matter? It had gotten to that point in life where it was time to remix Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, to take that pyramid and give it new labels – ones focused around values, goals, and interests. I needed to step away from a full-time role, to have time to myself – to think, to experience something different. Something new. Something that didn’t involve uncomfortable leather shoes.

Flash-forward a few months into the (then) future (the now, past) – a friend rang me. Said there was a job online, on LinkedIn, and it was perfect for me. A trivia host role. Based out of Chatswood. My (then) girlfriend (now fiancee) and I were thinking of making the move north anyways, to be closer to her family, and escape the increasingly crowded inner west where I’d resided for the past decade.

So I said what the hell. And applied.

It’s a job I’m still doing. Once a week only – but it’s not about the money. It’s about the love of the game. Every week: new faces commingled with familiar ones. Returning players, passers-by visiting Sydney for a conference or work trip, families celebrating their daughter’s/son’s eighteenth birthday. Every week – something different. The novelty factor is immense. And a constant.

Other jobs came in-between, as I found myself participating in what is colloquially called the “gig economy”: some writing opportunities for assorted small companies. Some editorial work for a brand storytelling agency, and more recently – the editing of (respectively) a PhD and travel novel while also providing ad hoc carer assistance for a friend who recently introduced a second child into the world.

It occurred to me, whilst holding aforementioned friend’s tiny newborn sprogling, that this was not the way I anticipated 2017 going. Dealing with milk vomits, post-blueberry stool, and learning the finer art of making a two year old eat food that they have decided with absolute certainty they do not want did not blip on my radar of potential outcomes.

But with the break also came useful lessons. Self-improvement lessons. When no one’s looking over your shoulder and providing feedback, it’s more than a little important to be able to engage in some regular self-analysis so as to work out the kinks in one’s armor. Especially if you want to get married. Particularly then.

Oh yeah – along the way, I got engaged! It was pretty fantastic.

Surprise surprise – making such a commitment spurred a plethora of new questions. How will I raise my kid? What sort of parenting techniques will I use? Are the models that my parents taught me even any good? Or do they need to get drop-kicked from my psyche? Where’s a good place to raise a kid in Australia? So. Many. Questions.

These are serious questions. (A non-serious question, would be, for example: “Gee, Steam is having a sale on games, which one should I buy?”) Serious questions require time. And energy. Which can be a luxury. Particularly in our busy world. With questions like these – you’ve got to take your time.

When was the last time any of us took our time?

2017 gave me time. To think. Ponder. Read. Be challenged. Fail. Succeed. And to rediscover forgotten passions as well as discover some new ones.

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