Sunday, May 06, 2007

To Book or Not to Book---It's Not Really a Question

Our local worker-owned, leftist, GLBT-friendly collective bookstore is advertising for a new collective member/owner, and Mary has been agitating for me to apply. Due to my struggles with chronic pain and a variety of health issues which are certainly exacerbated---if not caused--- by stress (ie: nursing), Mary felt that the 50% reduction in salary would be well worth the decreased stress levels which a change in career would engender. With experience in the book business and communitarian endeavors, my chances of landing the position would be fairly good, especially given the fact that we are members of the wider collective and friendly with all of the owners/workers.

Appreciating Mary's concern for my health, I have demurred, although the idea did pique my interest for a day or two. At this time of my life, with eleven years under my belt as a nurse, I feel that my time in service to others in this way has not yet come to a close. My identity as a nurse----hence the email address of still quite strong, and as I have written in the past, that identity is still part and parcel of how I move and act in the world.

Among nurses, there is frequent discussion of whether nursing is a "calling", a profession, a vocation, an art, or a science. Dictionary definitions of "calling" label it as a vocation, profession or trade, with some allusions towards an inner "impulse or inclination". With three old-school nurses in my family (one aunt served with General Patton during WW II), there is also a potentially genetic aspect to my predilection for my current profession. Service to others has been my central career path for some time (massage therapist, yoga instructor, personal care attendant, nurses' aide). While selling books----especially in a socially-conscious worker-owned collective that supports local non-profits and authors---would also be a great service, my overall feeling is that it just isn't time for such a drastic change of direction.

As I am pulled in many directions in my life, I recognize the need for continued self-care, self-nurturance, and an eye towards change when change is for the best. Whenever I contemplate new directions and the potential for an alteration in life's course, I remember the words of Michelle Shocked on a bootleg album from years past: "The secret to a long life is knowing when it's time to go."
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