Two days ago, I was on the bus and a homeless man got on. He carried a rolled-up blanket, three plastic bags, and wore some sort of Scottish looking kilt. Not a strange sight at all for a city bus in Los Angeles. I’ve also seen this particular man taking naps at the Big Blue Bus benches around Santa Monica so I think my assumption that he is homeless is probably accurate.
But, here’s what surprised me and got me to look a little deeper. He also carried two dry cleaning bags. When I looked closer, I saw that the bags contained crisp black suits. I couldn’t help but find this surprising. It’s interesting that he chose to spend his money on dry cleaning, but also ambitious that he would do this, maybe this small gesture and choice would help him land a job after an interview.
For me, the image of this homeless man carrying dry cleaning bags reminded me of the paradoxes we live with every day.
As I’ve started to embrace my 30’s, I’m finding that there are more and more paradoxes in life. For me, one of the most challenging paradoxes has to do with my writing career. I’m the type of person who reads self-help books and believes in positive thinking. Yes, I’ve read “The Secret” and I do believe there’s some truth to it. So I sometimes visualize myself working in a TV writer’s room, feeling financially secure and creatively productive. But I also am working on accepting myself and realizing there are many external factors that will play a role in whether or not this dream happens for me. For a very long time, I thought that I simply wasn’t working hard enough – I wasn’t putting in the hours to my writing which is why I wasn’t writing for Shonda Rhimes or Jason Katims (Parenthood, Friday Night Lights, About a Boy). But the truth is – there’s a very real “market” out there, and the market may not want to buy my work.
Trying to hold both of these ideas in my head at the same time is a challenge. And I think it’s a great challenge of life, especially as we get older – learning to live within the paradoxes.