GTFO the Garden of Eden
Forbidden fruits, snakes and the fall
Dramatic, right? I've working on my writing and I'm probably coming on too strong.
After quitting my job at the end of January, the past few days (weeks) have included a lot of walking around, thinking, reflecting and pondering.
It is not so much a question of being at a crossroads, but more about coming to terms with the added responsibility of dealing with one's career in the current epoch.
The feelings I will describe shortly are very intimate but not hidden. Personal but not unique to me. I suspect so many of us carry these doubts but rarely express them. Let me risk it.
In the story of Adam and Eve, they start their lives in Paradise, an abundant garden that has everything they could possibly need to be happy and safe. The one rule is to not, under any circumstance, eat the forbidden fruit from the Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam and Eve are human and naturally fall for it ( “forbidden knowledge” has always been a great sales technique ). They eat that famous apple.
The apple transforms them. They see, for the first time, that they are naked and become ashamed. God doesn't take it too kindly and kicks them out of Eden.
Working on my own career, although not a biblical endeavor, reminded of this story.
The forbidden fruit carries with it the dispelling of an illusion. It is not so much as it is poisonous, but more like a lightning of clarity.
The illusion was that you were sufficient, good enough to survive anywhere. That is OK to believe if you live in an abundant garden of plenty. When you move outside utopia, the rules change.
Steady employment can feel (at times) a bit like that Garden of Eden: things are safe, people are paid to make sure your wages are paid, if someone insults you you might even be able to get them fired. It is a separate reality.
Kinder, in a way. But like Eden, not very accommodating of rebelliousness.
It could happen to you. You have a job, in a career you care about. But, being a nosy little rascal, you cannot resist but to nibble on the fruit from the tree of knowledge: you learn about how businesses are run, how people create their own careers and what wonderful freedom exists beyond the gates of paradise.
You nibble some more and eventually you come to realize you need to GTFO of Eden. You don't need God to kick you out, you just know you've overstayed your welcome. Pack up a fig leaf (checked luggage was never an option) and hit the road.
Waking up naked outside the gardens of delight, now equipped with the knowledge that you can do anything, you have the first view of the infinite: The world is vast, the things in it near endless and your responsibilities are now never-ending. This is your new life as maker of your own career. You need to do everything and every thing.
Wise people talk about a circle of competence, within which you should stay. In it, you're near invincible. Outside it, you're a bumbling idiot.
Guess what? Outside of Heaven, that circle is now not enough, you cannot subsist entirely in it. Venture outward. Get acquainted to the feeling of “shit, I don't know how to do this, but I got to”. Do it. Badly. Better. Eventually Ok.
So far, the experience of stepping outside formal employment has been akin to feeling a little bit exposed to the elements, a little bit too conscious of my limitations and at the same time, quite “alive”.
As I write I can't help but to think that the story of the Fall from Eden is not really about the consequences of disobeying God, but much more related to growth. You cannot grow where everything is taken care for you. And growth hurts.
Chasing childhood innocence is the ultimate fantasy. But children yearn to become adults. It's all a bit messy, but somehow coherent.
Eviction from Heaven was not punishment, but an inevitable rite.