Don’t Fence Me In

“All my lovers were there with me
All my past and futures
And we all went to heaven in a little row boat
There was nothing to fear, nothing to doubt”
(Pyramid Song – Greenwood, Greenwood, O’Brien, Selway, Yorke )

Don’t PANIC !!!

You didn’t get your first choice for college, life continues, you will find a way. That course was probably rubbish anyway…

If I’d pursued my first choice of a career upon leaving school in the halcyon days of 1984 I’d probably be the Archbishop of Santiago de Chile by now…or defrocked and started my own religion somewhere in South America, a subtle blend of teachings from the New Testament, Zoroaster, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Patrick Kavanagh, and Nick Cave. We would be a non-hierarchical, anarcho-socialist, agrarian collective, known as the Stony Grey Souls, commonly referred to as the Stonys. Or maybe just defrocked.

If I’d followed my second choice, which was my first college choice, I’d have studied law in Galway, and would ,no doubt, by now be very wealthy, but very unhappy. Perhaps I’d have made it onto the bench but was constantly passed over for promotion to the upper courts because I didn’t play golf. Or was quietly retired to a luxury home for the bewildered as I got drunk on power and finished sentencing every case by smashing my gavel and impersonating Sylvester Stallone playing Judge Dredd, shouting “I don’t represent the law, I am the LAW !”

If I’d followed my third choice, I would now be Department Chair of English at Duquesne University and would wear a corduroy jacket over vintage band tees and imagine every day that my students see me as Robin Williams’ John Keating in Dead Poet’s Society, rather than Dick Vernon, the vice principal in The Breakfast Club, which they actually see me as. Or I’d be writing council meeting reports for The Drumlin Drumbeat, a local newspaper that I started having been sacked as a local secondary school teacher for trying to indoctrinate my students into joining a cult, or Young Fine Gael.

If I’d followed my fourth choice, I’d now have a series on BBC 4, or Sky Arts, based on my bestselling  book “Mon-Ark-Khan” , the true story of my discovery of the Ark of The Covenant in a tunnel connecting Drumsnatt and Kilmore churches and the convincing evidence that it was placed there by Guyuk Khan, third Great Khan of the Mongol Empire. How did he come to have it ? That’ll be the subject of the second series on BBC 4. Or I’d not have finished that degree, having got fed up with having to have a source for everything rather than a vivid imagination and opened a wee bar in Galway, no television, pool table, jukebox, NO country &Irish muzak !

As I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, I didn’t follow any of those. I picked mushrooms, packed shoes, opened a shop, sold to other shops, travelled the world, made and lost fortunes. None of that was ever mentioned in career guidance. And none of it really determines what I do next, not really. You shouldn’t rush these things.

One day , when you’re feeling wounded and alone, someone will pop up and remove that thorn from your paw, and you’ll follow them wherever they go. True story.

I do recommend that you never stop learning, exploring , thinking. I love a good think.

What do I actually do ?

I’m not entirely sure.

To paraphrase Gilbert & Sullivan “Throughout his career he did nothing in particular, but he did it rather well.”

Genuine question. Are you actually doing now what you started doing when you left school ?


P.S. This is David Byrne’s classic ‘Don’t Fence Me In

Author: paul

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