Inventing Your Life’s Meaning: Advice from a cartoonist


Images by Gavin Aung Than, Words by Bill Watterson, borrowed from 

My husband sent me this cartoon by Gavin Aung Than.  It’s been going around for the last few days but I only managed to get round to reading it today.  Than beautifully illustrates a speech given by Bill Watterson, the legend behind Calvin and Hobbes.  The central message of this particular speech resonates with me because of where I am in my life right now.

I recently left a relatively high-powered, well-compensated job for a decidedly less high-powered job whose central functions are, for the most part, purely administrative.  It was a change I made sort of suddenly (though the soul-searching that preceded it was protracted), and one I battled with.  For as long as I’ve been working, my jobs have been largely cerebral, taking up most of my head space and a fair amount of my heart space.  The thing is, none of these jobs have been the job.  Whilst I have loved (some of) them in different ways, I have not yet found that right balance between work that challenges you and also feeds your soul.  The more I worked, the more I realised that perhaps that perfect balance cannot be found by putting all of myself – my brain, my soul, my energy – into just one place and thing.  In fact, the more I did that, the more burnt-out, exhausted and unhappy I became.

So I found something else.  A job that encourages and challenges me to bring very specific parts of myself, and does not demand that I lay everything at its feet.  It’s a choice I’m sure many who know me and my path are puzzled by.  It’s a choice that I’m still adjusting to.  But you know what’s happened while I’ve been adjusting? I’ve been writing more, making art in ways I’ve always wanted to.  The small act of hitting the ‘publish’ button on successfully completed piece once a week has improved my life immeasurably.  And I realise that I would never have had the head or heart space to enable that shift as long as I was working jobs that demanded everything of and from me all the time.

To close, more wisdom from Watterson on our lives and how we think about what we do all day:

 calvin and hobbes

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