The key to finding your happy place…

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We walked through a meadow as we approached the steps up to the suspension bridge that would take us deeper into the rain forest.  A young man was sitting on the steps, oblivious to our clanking steps as we clumsily walked with clips and ropes and pulleys attached to the harnesses we had just strapped on to prepare for our journey.  He was hunched over a field guide to birds, engrossed in the act of making tiny sketches and notes in his journal.  Finally, he looked up and hurriedly gathered his papers and pencils to move out of our way.

He asked if we had been here before and we told him no, it was our first time.  His eyes twinkled and sparked with delight as he said, “I love it. It is the most beautiful place.” Then he went back to find another corner of the staircase to finish his work making notes on the birds.

Later, after I had banged my shin up pretty badly against the rocks of a waterfall, he dropped down in front of me.  He began pulling out waterproof pouches that I hadn’t noticed he had clipped to his gear.  He thumbed through the pouches, pulling out antiseptic and bandages.  I braced myself, waiting for the cleaning and bandaging to hurt – the way it stung when I was a kid having the dirt and rocks cleaned out of a scrape after I had climbed a little higher in the trees than I should have and banged myself up a bit on the bumpy jump down in to the rocky desert.  I looked away from where he was cleaning out my wound and scrunched my face, holding my breath and waiting for the pain that never came.  Suddenly, he was done and I never felt the sting I was expecting.  I thanked him and, again, his eyes twinkled and sparked with delight, he said, “No problem.  I am happy to help, that’s why I keep these with me all the time.”

Sometimes a person finds themselves in exactly the right place.  Sometimes a person finds the work that lights them up and lets them shine.  Sometimes a person lands perfectly in to their happy place.

I’ve heard the advice that you should do what you are good at or you should do what you love.  I think it might be better to do what you are curious about.  If you want to find the path to work that lights you up, start by looking at what lights you up that you don’t consider work.

Back when I was that little girl with banged up knees jumping out of trees in the desert, my favorite game to play was “office”.  I would set up my books and desk with stacks of leftover “dittos” from my mom’s classroom, dad’s old business cards, and memo pads from my grandma’s real estate office.  I would invite my imaginary clients in to my office and ask, “What’s the problem?” and I would scan through the books, take some notes on the memo pad and then send them off with a solution.  Sometimes I would smack my hand down on my imaginary desk and say, “Darn it, Joe! How did you get us in to this mess?!”  For some reason, imaginary client Joe was always getting us in to a fix.  I didn’t imagine being a lawyer.  I didn’t imagine any particular profession.  I just liked the idea of using books and notes and the occasional smack of the desk to fix problems.

Here I am, many decades later, pretty much doing for my job the same work that I played as a game when I was a kid.

Sometimes a person finds themselves in exactly the right place.  Sometimes a person finds the work that lights them up and lets them shine.  Sometimes a person lands perfectly in to their happy place.

 

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