Have a frontier, not a career

Whyte, the poet master general, explained that his work is only a career looking back.

Looking forward, it’s a frontier, he says. He just tries to keep an integrity and groundedness, while keeping his eyes on his voice dedicated towards the horizon.

This sounds eerily familiar to me. My professional life resembles that trajectory as well. It’s like, one day you look around and realize that your current mix of work involves spending time doing things you never envisioned doing ten or even five years ago.

But that’s a good thing. It doesn’t matter what you thought you believed about your career when you were younger. To quote the poet again, our identity depends more on how much our attention we’re paying to things and people other than ourselves.

Our true wealth is not in the coin of time, its cash value is in the currency of attention. Our life becomes the substance of our moment to moment experience.

Because there is no single path. There’s no finalized self that is ever completely known. Our identity only continues to unfold. We evaluate new opportunities as they present themselves, taking into account how we have evolved, and how the world has changed.

What if you viewed yourself through that infinite prism? What if you didn’t have a career, but a frontier?

Think about that word for a moment, frontier. It’s a borderland. It’s the area of a different nature near the edge of settled land, beyond which lies wilderness.

Sounds pretty damn exciting to me. Like reading one of those lists of all the jobs that didn’t exist five, ten and twenty years ago. What a privilege to live in such a time.

Then again, my tolerance for uncertainty is very high. And despite my greatest wishes, not everyone is like me. And so, it’s understandable why frontiers are intimidating.

For some people, confronting the freedom to go in any direction is a terrifying prospect. Knowing that what occupies our days in the future might have no resemblance to our current vision, that’s heavy stuff.

Not everyone is interested in coming to the existential cusp of their future. But for me, thinking in terms frontiers, not careers, is soothing to my restless soul. It makes me feel free to do as much creating as discovering.

Linklater, to quote another legendary poet, says the frontiers are where you find them.

That sounds like work worth doing. 

How are you continually expanding your frontiers in every direction?


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