It seems like a silly question. I believe most would answer this with an enthusiastic "Yes! Of course!" But when it comes right down to it, I'm not so sure anymore.
I fully understand ambition. As a 23-year-old moving to LA from Boston, I had dreams of just killing it in the entertainment business. I would be a triple threat writer-director-actress. I wanted it all, including -- eventually -- a family. It wasn't long before I realized how hard it is to make it in just ONE of these fields, so I had to narrow down my expectations. I knew how much I'd have to dedicate myself to these goals, and therefore knew I wouldn't be having a family anytime soon. Despite the fact that my friends back in Boston were getting married and planning for babies, I didn't have a problem with the fact that I wasn't. Given the career I'd chosen, I'd accepted the fact that I would be on a different clock than my friends.
As I approached my 30's, I was starting to think more about what I wanted and the "big picture." I'd shifted my priorities and taken a stable job behind-the-scenes instead of reaching for the glamorous yet elusive bug called fame. I just had no idea that something as earthly as love would be equally elusive.
It seems to me that the men in this town, whether 27 or 37, "just want to focus on career." I've heard women say it, too. I've even caught myself after a breakup saying, "I just want to work on me right now." I understand this. But I believe we do a disservice to ourselves and our happiness when we neglect making meaningful connections. Our lives are only half-full.
Where is the romance? Have we traded in the excitement and the dream of falling in love for more practical acquisitions? Have we become so invested in fortifying the self that we've turned our backs on the dynamic, magnetic chemistry of "we"? Don't get me wrong, I am attracted to ambition. No one ever says, "One day I want to marry a lazy bum." But where is the balance?
With the Blackberry, iPhone and iPad, work can always infiltrate our lives. We are always reachable. How do we live in this technology-driven world and still remain faithful to the childhood experiences we had? How can we make sure that the love of work, money and power doesn't overshadow the love we should have for people? The people in our lives are our most valuable assets. After all, it will not be your boss or your pile of money holding your hand at your deathbed. If you've lived well, it will be the love of your life and your children surrounding you during those final moments.
I think the very ambitious forget this and say, "later, after I make my first million (or publish my 4th book, or sell my 21st home) will I make time for love." But what if later is too late? Having made love secondary for my first five years in LA, I can say that was a mistake. I was certainly not happy. I was striving for a dream, but I feared that when I got it, who would I have to share it with? Would it actually MEAN anything if I were celebrating alone? I made a change, and that change was to make my happiness a priority. Not to be so focused on career that I was an empty vessel, but to make sure I was doing things in my personal life to fulfill me. And isn't that also a stronger, healthier person to bring to work every day?
My last two relationships were filled with fun: laughter, trips across the country, visits to the museum, the ballet (things I would never do alone), deep conversations and even deeper arguments. This is the fruit of life. Those interactions enriched my soul, made me the person I am today, and did the same for my partners. We GROW and become better by investing in another person and in our relationships. I guess losing a family member as a young person ingrained in me how important life is, that we should always be grateful for those in it, and make sure we tell them so. I wish people could act on this truth before -- not after -- they lose someone.
As I move further into my 30's, the fear of never getting married is definitely there, but I don't regret for a second the year I spent in my last relationship. Just because he wasn't The One doesn't mean I wasted my time. But I do see a very sad trend, because both he and the man I dated before him had a very difficult time balancing work and life. And in the end, it was the relationship that was cast aside.
People are exercising their right to show that a person, and love, is unimportant and a non-priority in comparison to work. "Work comes first" seems to be the mantra, but it doesn't mean love should be last. And it's unfortunate, because if that Blackberry or iPhone or iPad could sometimes be used to infiltrate LIFE while at work, I think the balance we're all looking for could be achieved.
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