Career” is an interesting word. The first thing that usually comes to mind is that stuffy and pretentious thing we’re all supposed to have if we’re living life like proper modern adults. A career: that steady, well-planned march toward security, power, and respect in some lucrative and dignified profession. Thus the “career counselor” can help the “career woman” have a “successful career” and so on.

People often forget the different meaning of the verb form, as in “the car careered off the road.

To move rapidly straight ahead, especially in an uncontrolled way


(Career and car are cognate by the way – moving rapidly, especially in an uncontrolled way is what cars seem to be made for.)

I’ve met plenty of people who are setting out to have careers – time hasn’t told me yet if they will succeed. It’s always seemed such a modest ambition: to become one more instance of a relatively well defined class of people. An academic career, an artistic career, etc. It always seems to be about inserting yourself into a slot, performing the requisite yet predictable innovations, the increment of labour, and then retiring to an anticipated life of esteem and comforts.

Perhaps I haven’t yet learned the humility necessary to accept such an eminently tolerable fate. I see myself moving rapidly straight ahead, certainly. But I lack the foresight or the hubris to guess where this all might end.