Monday, September 17, 2007

The Call of the Wild

When I was in elementary school, I read "The Call of the Wild" by Jack London. It's a wonderful novel for young readers, and it led me to many other works by the same author. But what I remember most from the book is the London's biographical information. Jack London held a lot of jobs prior to becoming an author.
Among a variety of hard labor jobs, London's resume included oyster pirate, seaman on a sealing ship, hobo (though I doubt this made his resume), and "law enforcement" on a patrol boat to capture poachers. He pursued writing as a means to escape a life of hard labor in the factories. In his autobiographical writings, he treats his work history like any other topic, adding his literary flourish. In other words, he makes it sound even worse than it may have been.
At the time, I couldn't believe that one man held so many different jobs. When you consider that London was only 40 years old when he passed away, it was even more remarkable. My point of reference was my father, who spent 21 years in the Navy and then worked for a civilian company until he retired.
And now, I look back at my own life. Using myself as the "standard," London doesn't look so odd. Not yet 40, I've held a similarly long list of jobs. Before college, I was a camp counselor for two summers. When I first went to college, I worked as a mover with a furniture company. When college funds ran out, I moved home and gained employment as a nursing assistant in a nursing home. After a year or so of that, I enlisted in the Navy for ten years, traveling around the country as orders dictated. Upon leaving the Navy, I completed the circle and gained employment with a "big box" furniture sales store, where I also put my prior experience to use by helping out as the delivery driver. Then, with a degree in Finance, I moved into an accounting position, where I have been for the past several years.
I have the same kind of history when it comes to extracurricular activities. Early in my life, I played baseball. When we moved to Wisconsin, soccer somehow became the main summer sport. I also played junior-high and high school football, and dabbled in archery and riflery. I spent four years on the debate team, did a year of forensics, and acted in at least two plays every year. Though I only excelled at a few things, I gained experience in many things.
Fast forward 20 years, and I find myself right in the middle of a sport that is perfect for just such a person. In addition to welcoming people of varying abilities, it is well suited for the disciplined person with "middle of the road" skills in the different disciplines. Swim specialists tend to get passed on the bike. Bike specialists often have too much ground to make up on the swim, or find themselves unable to hold onto a lead once they start running. And though run specialists can make up a lot of time, it is often insufficient to garner victory.
Individuals with the ability to improve in all three areas and the discipline to pursue those improvements have the potential to excel in triathlon. At the extreme is Chris Sweet, who qualified for the Ironman World Championships through amazing dedication to improving both the physical and mental aspects of his race. At the other extreme is the first time Ironman who sees opportunity for improving their overall time.
My journey through careers is likely incomplete. I enjoy my job, and work for an amazing company. But, like Jack London, there is probably at least one more job out there, for me. If I ever find the "perfect job," I'll let you know.
On the other hand, I believe my wanderings through various active lifestyles (or not-so-active lifestyles) have ended. Triathlon offers the variety and opportunity that nothing else does. From the vast number of race options to the ability to interact with top-level triathletes to the opportunity to continually improve in all three disciplines, triathlon is the "perfect" sport. While I will continue to explore other endurance type events, triathlon is the one that will remain a fixture in my race season. Whether sprint, intermediate, or Ironman distance, swim/bike/run has rapidly become a way of life.


Nancy Toby said...

And here I thought you were leading up to an announcement about tackling the Iditarod next year.... ;-)

Comm's said...

I tell people in life that if they don't like it, get new friends. when you think back to all your friends you see a cycle, about two years with one group and then you or they change and your into another.

Sometimes, rarely one person sticks and they are special treasures for a lifetime of friendship.

Go Mom Go said...

Ditto what Comm said.

I am in the same cycle right now, kind of a flux and you just put it into words.


Dying Water Buffalo said...

Huh interesting comment about friends and cycles. I always think there's SOMETHING... I recently realized I have a great social group here in NYC although am trying to find a new job. I forget who said it, but "If it's not this, it would be something else."

tarheeltri said...

Great post about you. Thanks for posting it. I too shared a lot of different jobs during my life and somehow fell into accounting for some time. I'm glad that you found the perfect sport for yourself. Me? I don't know... I've always wanted to try rock climbing.

Anonymous said...

The Call of the Wild had a big impact for me as well. I grew up and ended up running sled-dogs in Colorado. It makes a great base for Tri-fitness.

home fitness

pcsolotto said...

Whoever owns this blog, I would like to say that he has a great idea of choosing a topic.

Mandie said...

Hi, I came across your site and wasn’t able to get an email address to contact you about some broken links on your site. Please email me back and I would be happy to point them out to you.

Mandie Hayes