Embracing the Jungle Gym

career jungle gym freedom

“Sometimes it’s ok to just be on time.”

Have you ever stopped long enough to notice that for some reason we’re always in this huge rush? If we’re not rushing to get to the top of the ladder, we’re rushing to have kids and get them to piano, or rushing through yoga to check it off the list. It’s as if the narrative we’ve been told for so long to “get ahead” has birthed this silent pressure looming overhead, regardless of what we're doing. But the more we rush to fit “more” in, the less we’re actually present enough to enjoy any of it.

I admit that it personally took me some time to buy into the idea of the “jungle gym.” When people would tell me that your career is no longer a straight shot on a ladder, I would politely nod as I quietly congratulated myself on having taken enough math to understand that really, if I figure it out early and stay straight, I’m going to be a heck of a lot higher up than the person still messing around and going sideways.

But one day it finally dawned on me that, well, that’s not actually the point. Do I want a “successful” life by traditional standards, or do I want an interesting life? As my #1 mentor Starla Sireno would say: Do I want to live the length of my life, or the width of it? So maybe life’s a little like a good road trip. You need a sense of direction to make sure you’re going the right way, but the trip is really made by all those little spontaneous stops, unexpected moments, chance encounters, and colorful people along the way. Everyone’s journey is different. There is no race.