I finally tackled the monstrous chore of cleaning out my office closet. You know the one: phone books stacked taller than Mount McKinley, file boxes stuffed as much as my post-Thanksgiving stomach, random board game pieces littering the floor like they'd staged a grand escape and plummeted to their death. I culled and filed and organized until I'd reduced my life into fifty or so labeled letter-sized folders. Neat bundles, just the highlights-death, taxes-you get the idea, until I ran across one dot-matrix printed page with the words Discover Module 4 at the top.
In 1993, I sat down at a computer console in the counselor's office of my high school and logged answers to a UNIACT interest inventory to determine a possible list of occupations. The questions reduced my values, perceptions of my own abilities, and experiences into a mathematical quotient, a left-brained analysis of dreams.
Some of them I knew would be there. I'd wanted to be a teacher since I presided over a captive classroom of Cabbage Patch dolls when I was five. Teaching was always a no-brainer for me. Something I never once questioned, as preordained to my human experience as breathing. Out of thirty-six possible occupations UNIACT listed for me, 34 percent fell under education. Vocational. Elementary. Physical Ed (though if the questionnaire had addressed eyeliner and my aversion to track pants this clearly wouldn't have made my list). Back then, had I read an inevitability into the results, barely glancing at the other possibilities?
What were the other occupations? Museum curator, foreign language interpreter and librarian all make sense. Customs inspector, parole officer and sanitarian do not. Cataloging rat droppings in Waffle Houses doesn't light my fire, although the thread here really smacks of rule enforcement. FBI agent? Only if I get Mulder as a partner. But when I opened myself up to read the others, a full fifteen years later, I found a message from the past more perfect than I could have imagined.
#112 Book critic
#354 Radio/TV Program Writer
#423 Technical Writer
#438 Fiction Writer
I was meant to be here. Crunched by numbers, culled from a place of values, abilities and experiences, the second most prevalent occupation predicted for me was exactly where life led me: a writer. A mathematical, left-brained answer to the venom of doubt that creeps in when I read another's masterpiece or can't find myself in the words I've committed to the page. A true gift to a heart filled with second dreams. Remember when I said there are no coincidences? On a day more uncertain than most, when I'd escaped to a diversion of insurance forms and file folders-tangible, concrete evidence of a day well spent-I found something far more valuable than deposit slips. I found my place on a road map drawn long ago. A quiet spot with the resonance of a dream and a life well spent.
A badge and an "I Want to Believe" poster in my office still would have been a close third.
What were your early dreams?