Now that I’m back at home and things are getting back to “normal”, my brain has started the inevitable life stock-taking that I expected would happen upon my return. This summer was like stepping out of my normal life, but now I need to figure out where all those experiences fit into my world. And in doing so, it’s making me reevaluate what “normal” really is, and what I want it to be.

I’ve been back at work for two days now (today will be my third day back) and I gotta say, I’m bored. Not that I expected working at the bookstore to be as thrill-a-minute as working at a busy wildlife hospital, but that’s not what’s really bothering me. Sure, I still enjoy my colleagues, I still enjoy being around books, and it’s still nice helping customers find what they need. It’s all very pleasant. But right now, it all feels so meaningless. Rude customers and customers who get angry because we can’t get the book they’re looking for… well, even more meaningless. Seriously? This is what you get your panties in a wad about? Life is bigger than an out-of-print title.

The work I was doing this summer at PAWS may not always have been fun, it may not always have been pleasant, but it did always feel like it had meaning. I felt useful. Not to sneeze at the importance of books in people’s lives and in the world, but it’s not exactly like I’m helping to eradicate illiteracy or getting books to people who otherwise wouldn’t have them. I’m selling them to people who have the luxury to quibble about the price of importing books from overseas. It’s not enough. Now that I’ve had a taste of doing something meaningful, I want more. I just need to figure out what form that’s going to take in my life. Paid work? Volunteer work? Who knows. I trust that I’ll figure it out some way somehow.

As a sidebar to these thoughts, PAWS just got in a deluge of over 100 seabirds stranded by an algal bloom off the coast. I can’t even begin to express how much I wish I could be there to help.  For now I can just follow developments from my frantic contacts over there and offer moral support. But my hands are itching to do more.