Writing for me, not you

What does it mean to be alive? For most of us it probably goes something like this: work, eat, sleep, wake up, repeat. Having been alive for almost 60 years, I’ve come to the conclusion that I haven’t really been ALIVE. I’ve not published a book, recorded a song, or jumped out of an airplane. I haven’t caught a record bass, made a hole in one, or cooked a 5-course meal. I’ve not been to England, haven’t run a 5-K or kissed a movie star. I haven’t seen my ideal weight since I was 17-years old, I haven’t been on ancestry.com, I’ve not gone surfing. I haven’t accomplished very much to speak of, the exception being the four children I fathered.

I’ve been reading “You Are A Writer (So Start Acting Like One)” an ebook by Jeff Goins,  he says that he didn’t start to feel like a writer until he started writing for himself. He said:

Believe you already are what you want to be. And then start acting like it.

If I’m to believe that I am already a writer Goins says I must first learn to write for myself, not for you the reader. By that, he means that I should never write for the sole purpose of pleasing anyone other than myself.

 Stop writing for accolades, and start writing for passion.

It sounds simple, but what if I don’t have that passion? Is passion for writing learned? Shouldn’t I already be passionate about writing? Or passionate about playing the guitar? Am I a passionate gardener? I love to write, play guitar and garden, but am I passionate about doing those things? What does it mean to be passionate about something and how do you get passionate about it if you’re sure you’re not feeling passion? Are there people that are passionate about being alive?

An intense desire and enthusiasm for something.

You can define passion but how do you develop it for something? Am I not really alive because I’m not living a passionate life or have intense desire or enthusiasm for something? I wonder what I would score if I took a passion test? What would the criteria be for such a test? How are desire and enthusiasm measured? If I’m enthusiastic about gardening, playing guitar and writing but don’t feel the desire to do those things, does that mean I have no passion for them?

Maybe passion is overrated.

Dear Corporate Walmart,

I know you probably won’t reply to my letter but that’s not going to prevent me from expressing a few concerns I have about a recent stint I had as a Walmart Lawn & Garden Seasonal Sales Associate. I know that I’m not the only one who has ever experienced concerns, I found that out easily by Googling “working at Walmart,” as you can see by the very first search result.

Firstly, I knew the chance I was taking before being hired, so I wasn’t going into this completely blindfolded. I knew I would probably not be making much over minimum wage ($7.35/hr here in PA), I also knew that as a L&G associate I would be lifting heavy bags of mulch, garden soil, landscaping timbers, etc. I knew there would be times when things would be hectic as early spring is a very busy time for gardeners looking to buy plants and other things needed for gardening.

Secondly, I realize there are some things associated with retail sales that all employees of any particular retail business have no control over, i.e., angry customers, shipments of goods arriving unexpected, cash registers freezing up, etc. Many things can go awry that are not expected. I’ve worked retail before so I know these types of things cannot be controlled by employees, there is no blame here, I’m making a point about working conditions that can or cannot be attributed to employee actions.

Third, and this is probably what you’re not going to like hearing about; low wages for work that one person shouldn’t be doing by themselves. For example, on some occasions during my employment I was the only sales associate in lawn and garden and two surrounding departments. Trying to find assistance for customers I couldn’t help (because I was helping two or more at the same time) was all but impossible. I had difficulty grasping Walmart’s work ethics, be they bad or good, and when I was told by a member of management that this was “the way our generation does things” it made it even more exasperating.

Lastly, I offer a word of thanks to you, Walmart, for hiring me in the first place. I honestly thought that as a lover of plants and people I’d be able to make a difference, and perhaps even change an attitude or two about how you’re viewed by a large majority of your customers. Unfortunately, that view is not a pleasant one. But as I stated earlier, I had an idea of how it might be before I was hired. I chose not to continue as an employee because I felt it was a detriment to my health, both physically and mentally.

On the day I decided to leave you asked if there were anything you could do to change my mind, and when I replied that I would consider staying if my pay were raised to between $10 – $15 an hour, you laughed. For me, and thousands of your employees, that’s not something to laugh about.


TC Conner