Link to “Abandoning the Work I Hated” by Robert Markowitz: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/08/20/abandoning-the-work-i-hated/?WT.mc_id=2015-SEPTEMBER-FB-MC6-AUD_DEV-0901-0930&WT.mc_ev=click&ad-keywords=AUDDEVREMARK&_r=0
“Abandoning the Work I Hated” is the single most eye-opening personal essay I’ve ever read. Mr. Markowitz describes the intensity of his career as a young criminal lawyer along with the related physical symptoms in his body. He decides to quit his unfulfilling law career and live in Mexico for 2 years, while battling boredom and depression.
In an unexpected twist, after returning to the US, he discovers a love for entertaining children during volunteer work at a Sunday school. While browsing through wanted ads in the newspaper, he sees an ad for clown training and decides to give it a try. Mr. Markowitz starts entertaining children at parties under the alias of “Bobo the Clown” and LOVES it! Next, a hidden passion for music is unearthed, and Mr. Markowitz starts creating and playing music for children’s events. The fulfillment of his new musical career provides motivation for him to wake up every day, a crucial element which his law career lacked.
The entire essay is inspiring to me, as I see myself in his shoes. Mr. Markowitz admits feelings of frustration in finding a career outside of law but only being offered law jobs. Similarly, I have had difficulty finding jobs at non-profit organizations, consulting firms, and health food stores while simultaneously receiving multiple job offers in pathology, a career in medicine I’m trying to leave behind.
I believe discovering one’s passion can be spontaneous. For most people in society, working as a clown for low wages after succeeding as a lawyer can seem bizarre, but for Mr. Markowitz, it was serendipitous. He never imagined he would become a clown; yet the event was life-changing, as it led him to pursue his dream job: children’s musical entertainment.
I am inspired by his courage and the hardships he endured to reach his happiness. He owns his struggle, as I do mine. I hope serendipity strikes me too!
I love Andrew Solomon’s piece which offers advice to young writers. He asks writers to focus on questions, not answers, and on the joy and power of the written word. Please take a few moments out of your day to read it. 🙂
Why are high school students forced to read literary classics? Wide-eyed, naive babes reading Hemingway, Plath, Salinger, and Maugham. I want to re-read these books as an adult, a weathered, wrinkled, yet vulnerable adult. The impressions will come alive on the pages and reach out to me, and I will finally understand.
A short story by the young Zelda Fitzgerald was recently discovered in a long-lost high school literary journal from 1918. As a teenager, her understanding of the world was profound but also idealistic. Fitzgerald understood women needed a sense of purpose to be fulfilled and acknowledged that marriage may not be everyone’s cup of tea. The main character of the story, Cornelia, is a 30-year-old woman who is regarded as an utter failure for being unmarried. (Thank God I didn’t live in that time period!)
“Cornie’s a fine girl and good looking enough, but she’s got no magnetism.”
Ah, the overrated charm and magnetism. The bubbly personality that people are drawn to, not unlike the Apple store or food trucks. I never understood society’s obsession with charm, as it can be transient and covering the ugliness within. Despite her lack of magnetism, Cornelia knows she can succeed at things other than marriage so she follows her personal journey (becoming a stenographer) in striking contrast to the direction of her peers.
“Perhaps, after all, Cornelia was seeking self-expression.”
Unfortunately, the story takes a childish turn towards a Disney fairytale ending when Cornelia meets a widowed millionaire through work. He becomes smitten with her during a frenzied typing session and yada yada yada…they get married.
The story has true feminist potential but the punchline is ruined by saccharine irony. It was still a pleasure to read, if only to visit the mind of an 18-year-old girl in 1918.