I was at the dentist the other day and she asked me what I was doing now, as in with my life/work etc. I like my dentist Emma. She puts up with my sporadic lateness, never hassles me too much about my chocolate intake, and is always keen for a chat. If it wasn’t weird to do so, I could imagine us meeting for yoga and breakfast catch ups, followed by a quick fluoride treatment. The last time I had seen Emma was when I was working at the hotel and the plan had been to go back to do my masters.
I told Emma I had temporarily abandoned the Masters idea as I had rage quit the hotel job, and ended up back at my old company in a different role as I couldn’t live off air and water. I also didn’t fancy the idea of homelessness and having to shower in the public toilets at South Bank (funnily enough I have never seen a homeless person in there, which surprises me as I have always thought it as a great option for the down and out. Perhaps showering isn’t their main priority, which is confusing as it’s the only thing I have considered when wondering what I would do in that situation. Eh, each their own).
Turns out this elusive concept of purpose was also gnawing on Emma, and she told me how she wanted to go back to uni and specialize but the dental practice wouldn’t let her go part time. As she poked and prodded my mouth, searching for cavities, she also took a moment to consider the search for fulfillment, and balancing that with financial stability, ‘it’s just hard, isn’t it?’. ‘Yarsh, ar ish’, I agreed as wholeheartedly as I could with my mouth gaping open (dentist translator: yes, it is). We agreed that it’s difficult to do exactly what you want to do in life without sacrificing a certain lifestyle. She is well adept in dental examination speech so the conversation was surprisingly flowing. Emma went quiet for a bit as, I can only assume, she contemplated what we discussed, and several moments later reiterated, ‘who knows what to do’.
The funny thing is, from my brief patient/doctor relationship with Emma I had always assumed she was happy with what she did. It just seems like one of those life choice professions, I thought she had dreamed of becoming a dentist. She does seem quite interested in dental health. I’ve never asked. I guess I’m a bit of a bad patient. Perhaps she did but everything has it’s limit before it becomes stagnant and you want more. I guess I thought this way because everything I have done work wise has never been a goal or dream, it’s just something I have fell into someway or another. I don’t think anyone dreams of a future organising travel for businesses. That’s not a thing. Well, I don’t think it’s a thing.
However, the whole interaction did get me to start thinking about how the search for more isn’t relegated to a certain type of person (me), and that regardless of occupation success or social standing a lot of people are torn between life satisfaction and bank account buoyancy. I guess the question is how do we reach the perfect balance without relinquishing our dreams and goals?
A segue: I remember waking up early when I was a kid and the only thing that was on was these dogmatic religious shows espousing the merits of living a righteous life. I hated them, and would flip through looking for something else, anything else. Organised religions were never my bag, even from a young age. I wish that instead of wasting all that air time on such a redundant concept that TV networks had commissioned a show on how to find meaning and purpose in life. Who knows where I would be now if television had actually given me some useful information instead of complete channel flicking dribble. Realistically, I would have probably forgotten it and I would still be in the same position. Regardless, you know what I mean.
Unfortunately folks, despite my further investigations, I am still at a loss to find meaning. But don’t worry, I will keep searching and let you know what I find, but right now I have to pay my dentist bill.