I have the best day job ever.
I work at home. I never have to go into the office, which is 600 miles away. I set my own schedule. I can work more hours or fewer hours, as I please. My boss and long-distance co-workers are a pleasure to work with. The job is very well paid. It is interesting and varied. I am good at it. And I am leaving it.
Have you ever been in a relationship with someone who was smart and funny, didn’t drink or smoke or use drugs, wasn’t abusive, had a good job, respected you, and had amusing friends? And you left them? This is like that.
I work for a life care planner. I call people who have had something terrible happen to them and talk to them for an hour and a half or two hours. They might have been in an automobile accident and be paralyzed, or their child might have fallen out a window and be brain damaged. They can no longer run marathons, play in the orchestra, do surgery, build bridges, paint. They can no longer walk their dog. They may have lost their vocation, their independence, their athletic ability, their social life, or all of the above.
I have a form with hundreds of nosy questions that my boss needs answered, and I get as clear an answer as possible to each one. This fulfills my boss’s purpose for having me do the call. However, I also have my own purpose. The way I ask the questions, the way I talk to the person, can be therapeutic. Usually the person is focused on the past, on what they have lost. I am a stranger on the phone who
hears their pain and their grief. I also help them turn their focus, to perceive that life is change, and that what they had and what they did in the past will always be part of them, of who they are. I help them look forward, and think about where they’re going next with what they have now, about what new layers they will add. It takes skill and empathy to do this and I take pride in being good at it.
I am leaving because, despite everything I just said, this is job is not what I am for. I am a writer. That is my singular purpose in the world, my reason for taking up space on the planet. I have reason to know that life is short. I have only so many hours, days, years. Months go by when all I have had the energy to do is this job. If I had dependents to support or a mortgage to pay I would have no choice. Since I have the choice, I will use what hours I have to do what I alone can do.