For as long as I can remember, I’ve pretty much known where I was going. I had a clear direction. Sure, there’ve been some deviations, but the overall picture was always the same. I think this is perhaps one reason I’m so fond of lists—nice guidelines to a particular end. In some ways, I suppose, I’m not really that adventurous or spontaneous.
My Dad occasionally challenges this. He has a tendency to, shall we say, get lost. His sense of direction is perhaps a bit questionable, especially as involves paved highways. I have “fond” memories of a particular experience in high school, when I was learning to drive. We had been out to an outlying town and were on our way back home when he told me the wrong turn. The next thing he’s telling me is not to stop—at least not for more than a microsecond—at the stop signs because, “don’t you see the bullet holes everywhere? We’re in gang territory!” Oops.
Several years ago, both of us feeling a bit of Spring Fever, I agreed to a Sunday afternoon woods walk. It seemed innocent enough—nice sunny day, a bit above freezing, but still enough snow on the ground to make things—outside the city at least—pretty. However. My dad seemingly does not know how to follow a marked trail, unless it’s a wild critter that made the markings. We never technically got lost, but let’s just say that I don’t exactly have the spring of a deer, and jumping over the not-quite-frozen creek netted me two hands full of thorns. (I didn’t fall in though!) I can’t call the day bad or a waste though. I had no idea where I was going—other than a general idea of which way was west, thanks to the sun—how long we were going to be, how difficult it would be to get back. But all my memories, excepting the stinging hands, are positive. It was an adventure. It was fun. Perhaps it should have been scary, but I don’t get scared of what’s right in front of me, just all the possibilities that are not. (Overactive imagination.)
I think I’ve alluded before to December being rough. January did not prove any better. I had had high hopes around the first of the year: I was called for an interview for a job I really wanted. But it went to someone else, and with the end of the month came the long-anticipated downsizing of my (now former) place of employment. So now I am in a space where I’m not sure what “next” is. Being realistic, there are not a lot of jobs in the architecture world right now—at least not in my corner of the country. That may be changing, but it’s been bleakly bad, all over the place, for the last few years. I’m also hampered by a relative lack of experience (I simply can’t imagine how recent college (university) graduates have fared) and lack of knowledge of a particular piece of software that most every firm is either already using or transitioning to. I’ve also been considering my real discomfort with the continuing trend to build new, when so many buildings sit abandoned—both from economic/social and environmental standpoints. If I continue to pursue a traditional career in architecture am I only contributing to a practice which concerns me? All this to say, I’m not sure what path lies next. This can be overwhelming, and scary. I just need to remind myself of that walk in the woods. The adventure is in the possibilities.
Please don’t feel obligated to feel sorry for me or to offer up any sympathy. I’m fortunate enough to be in a place where I can financially withstand unemployment for quiet a while. Truthfully, it’s been a stressful and uncertain slog through work for a couple of years, and I’m more relieved than anything not to be there anymore. I am genuinely questioning my commitment to the traditional practice of architecture, and this is perhaps just the space I need to determine what truly comes next. Most importantly, I hope to have more time now. I seem to have been so short on that for so long—it’s nice to be able to breathe again.