my occasional musings on life, love, art, perfume ... what else is there?


Love and Work

I have two finals left and then I've officially made a mid-life career change. I'm not a copywriter now. I'm a paralegal, in name and certificate if not in certainty.

At what point do you become what a piece of paper says you are? I've had lagtime with all the important pieces of paper in my life.

Take a marriage certificate, for instance. For my first marriage. Please take it.

I remember waking up a week later and thinking, "Is THIS what it was about? All that yearning and hoping and planning and dreaming of white dresses and veils?"

"But nothing is different. I am the same person. With a lot more responsibility and not that much more happiness."

And in that case, the happiness quotient got smaller and smaller as the years went by.

It took me a long time to accept my divorce decree, too. Although a sad relief, that piece of paper didn't automatically unburden me of the weight of my marriage.

I'm trying to figure out what I'm aiming at here. I think it has to do with acknowledging one has a core definition. One has a Self. And all the things -- pieces of paper -- we surround it with really don't touch it or change it.

But Freud said, "Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness."

Ok, this I also believe.

Relationships, for instance, are integral to my happiness. I have learned the hard way that I am constitutionally unable to "go it alone." And I am so fortunate to have become lucky in love later in my life.

And I know I need to work for my sense of well-being. I need to feel productive. And it makes me unreasonably happy to earn money.

So while they are not me, who I'm with and what I do add to what I am.

And I guess that newest piece of paper will acquire more meaning, become more real to me, the longer I live with it.

The piece of paper doesn't define, or change me. But my reasons for acquiring it, and what I do with it, underscore what I intend, and what I can create, if not what I am.


Blogger Bela said...

Lovely post, M!

I'm not fond of such pieces of paper. My relationships have never been sanctioned by documents. Same thing with my work: I became a translator more or less by chance and the only tangible proof of my being qualified for it was my degree - just one piece of paper. I suppose a diploma might have been nice, but I never needed one. I fell into publishing in the same way - no paper from Book House.

Your last paragraph says it all. You're going to be brilliant at your new career.

fjhmbpzu: I swear your word verifications are worse than mine.

8:58 PM

Anonymous keeter said...

"At what point do you become what a piece of paper says you are?" Mireille = Paralegal. Done. If it makes you feel better, my life has been defined by a continuing series of cable bills.

Total lack of depth and poignancy aside, I'm so proud of your latest swashbuckling accomplishment. I hope your new career is worthy of you.

8:13 AM

Blogger Logophile said...

synergy, you are more than the sum of your paperwork, or parts.
This is not to say the part and papers aren't important but I am so glad you don't let them define you.

10:47 AM

Blogger Doug said...

I like paralegals. They're cool.

1:03 PM

Blogger actonbell said...

Wonderful post. It's priceless to do something meaningful, esp. when it gifts you with the means to obtain luxurious perfumes and beautiful shoes.

6:10 PM

Blogger katiedid said...

First, bela is right. "eqmmfawd" And I'm not even sure that's right because the letters are are smooshed in addition to being wavy. We'll see!

Second, but most importantly, I wish you so much luck and love - you are such a neat person. This was a wonderful post, and an insightful reflection of the utterly cool human being who wrote it.

6:37 PM

Blogger Lulu said...

Very thought-provoking and beautifully expressed. Ooh, I don't know my views on this. Until I was 23 I felt as if I didn't exist when I wasn't in the company of other people. The first time I got a flat on my own instead of a share, I sat for two hours on the floor six inches away from the wall, looking at the pattern on the wallpaper while it got dark outside, because I couldn't see any reason to get up and do anything if no one could see me doing it (I was brought up in a small house with parents who disliked me going to my room and would follow me after 10 minutes to ask me what the matter was; I even had to do my homework in the same room as them and a blaring TV otherwise they got all hurt and offended.) Happy to say this has worn off now, but I had a late start at any concept of self-definition!

You're right, though - pieces of paper certainly aren't it. Or at least, they are always behind by a couple of years, because, judging by your examples here, they describe a finished state that is probably out of date by the time you get them. That's partly why they seem so unsatisfactory, do you think?

It's also very hard not to accept everyone else's view of one, and distinguish those views from one's own sense of self. In fact, yes, that's my conclusion - that self-definition is a lifelong task, destined never to be completed because as fast as you get a grasp of it, you've changed again!

6:04 PM


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