Perhaps the reason that this is on my mind is the fact that I’m 68 pages into Kenn Kaufman’s Kingbird Highway. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Kenn’s story, let me try to sum up a much more complex story in short description. With a little bit of background information about his formative years, Kenn goes on to tell about his 1973 Big Year adventure. He hitchhikes, goes hungry on countless occasions, has run-ins with law enforcement, and sees a ton of birds in the process. He was not yet 20 years old. He went on to author many other notable books including the Kaufman Field Guide series.
After reading not even a quarter of Mr. Kaufman’s book, it is still very clear to me that I am not like the author. Kenn’s parents allowed him to go out on his own at the age of 16. I think I was 12 or 13 before my mother allowed me to go around the “big” block on my bike. My mom still calls me to make sure I got home alright. Kenn left school before society said it was socially acceptable. I have two bachelor’s degrees and a masters. I suppose it just goes to show that birders are an eclectic lot.
I’m not sure I would be thinking about any of this had I gotten a teaching job right out of college. Perhaps my outlook on my professional life would be far more positive. So far, however, I view myself as a failure professionally. I do not say this to garner sympathy. I do not want it. I’m simply looking at this from an objective/goals perspective. I have not achieved many of the things I thought I would have by now.
In a small way, however, I believe I have turned my professional misgivings into a personal success…or enjoyment at the very least. By quitting a job that seemed to be going nowhere fast, I allowed myself to enjoy life in other ways. I can’t say I don’t have anxiety everyday about my uncertain future, because I do, but at least I am flying into the future with an open mind. Happy birding!