Yesterday while doing landscape work at a beautiful home in the Lake Washington area of Seattle, I encountered a good friend of mine (more of an acquaintance according to societal definition). She is a principle at a high school. I am honored to know her because she does amazing work within the field of education, which is a field that interest me and I think highly of those in it. She seemed surprised to see me doing landscaping work given that we had meet in a completely different context — spaces of education, social justice, leadership, etc. She approached to give me a hug, with a look on her faced mixed in surprised and happy to see me. I hugged her and apologize for being dirty. She didn’t seem to care. “What are you doing here?” she said. “I am working landscape with this dude”. “Are you done with school at UW?” she followed. “Yes, I graduated last spring”. We continued having a short conversation and said bye to each other before she was pulled into the house by her companion.
After this mini encounter I started reflecting on what my life currently is, isn’t and what I think it should be. I have never been embarrassed of working in landscaping or any other intense ( and often dirty) labor job. This is what most men in my family do and I have learned is a dignified job. However, it has felt like a different life to the one I have lived in the past five years. I don’t mix the two. In one, I am a typical hustling Mexican working 10 hours a day with little to no time to dream. Working under the sun all day thinking about how miserable this makes me feel because I am not where I want to be or doing what I want to do. On the other, I am a graduate from the University of Washington with goals and dreams currently taking some time off to think about what I want to do next because it is completely okay to do so. “Saving up for grad school”, “waiting for my teaching program to begin in August”, “Trying to make it as a photographer”, “Enjoying life”, all these phrases are nothing but a bunch of words that seem to me more acceptable than “I don’t have a job because I am not eligible to work in this country” “No one wants to hire me because I don’t seem to be skilled enough with a college degree from a prestigious University” or “I really don’t know what I am doing or what I want to do- I am lost”.
The truth is that I do know what I do not want. I do not want to be okay with working in landscape from 8 AM to often 8 PM, get home and only have 2 hours to stress about all the other things I still want to get done. I do not want be complaisant with the $200 I make a day because “It’s good money” but wonder all day about all the things I would rather be doing.
The truth is that landscaping does not bring me joy. It’s a hard conversation to have with myself because I know many people that do this work based on necessity. But not going to beat myself up because I have the privilege to choose something different. If I have such privilege than I must use it and live in my purpose. So today I am deciding that I will be doing landscaping only 2 days per week to collect just enough money to pay for my monthly necessities.. I will spend the rest of the days enjoy life, exploring my own projects and interests, doing the things that truly give me joy, even if that means staying at home drinking coffee, spend countless hours thinking about what my next move is, and telling people “I‘m doing nothing, but I am good”.