According to the calendar beside my desk, we're fast approaching a rare milestone for me.
June 1 marks one year since I started at Pique.
It's rare in the sense that it's never happened before. I've had a lot of jobs in my 27 years, but my tenure has never reached a solid, continuous 12 months.
After high school I worked for two winters as a pipeline labourer and heavy machinery operator, but the work was intermittent. Sometimes we would take months off in between projects.
I spent summers building homes, clearing brush, laying floors and cleaning trucks.
I once made seven dollars an hour unloading delivery trucks at Wal-Mart. A few years later I drove a delivery truck for Leon's, nearly breaking my back lugging oversized furniture for unappreciative people who made much, much more money than I.
A year or so after that I got fired from a job driving a forklift at a Coca-Cola bottling plant after I decided I'd rather go to the lake and get drunk. Though it's not something present-day Braden would do, looking back on it I still think it was a fantastic decision.
While I sometimes find myself nostalgia-tripping over the smell of a diesel engine or freshly cut wood in the summer, or even the simple sound of a hammer driving a nail, these are not jobs I could see myself doing my whole life.
That's not to say they're bad jobs. They just weren't for me.
It's the question most commonly asked of young people — what do you want do with your life?
In my Grade 12 year I heard it more times than I can count, and I never once had a straight answer. I had no idea.
For many parents, this would not do. You sure as hell better have an idea of what you want to do with your life by the time you graduate.
But my parents gave me some leeway, which I was happy to take full advantage of.
I went to the oilfield. I moved to Alberta. I moved home and lived with friends. I worked all these different jobs in different fields, searching for something that fit.
And while the search wasn't always enjoyable, in hindsight, the experience was invaluable — not just in the variety of skills I learned, but the fact that I was given room to grow and explore without being shoehorned into a career that didn't fit.
I learned a lot about life and I learned a lot about myself.
A year into my tenure at Pique, and I have to say — I don't hate this job.
Like any job, there are good days and bad days, and there are times when I would rather be getting drunk at the lake. But for the most part I enjoy what I do.
And I think that's essential for all of us.
Work is inevitable. We all have bills to pay and bodies that need to be covered in cloth and filled with food from time to time.
But that doesn't mean we have to hate what we do.
Of course, not everyone can have their absolute dream job. Not right away. Mine involves travel, flexible hours, wild animals and about twice as much money as I'm currently making.
I don't know when and if that will happen, but I do know that life is too short to spend it doing something you hate. Sometimes we just need a bit of time and space to find out which direction works best for us.
There's a quote I quite enjoy that has been attributed to the late, legendary curmudgeon Charles Bukowski — though I haven't been able to track down its source.
It goes: "My dear, find what you love and let it kill you. Let it drain you of your all. Let it cling onto your back and weigh you down into eventual nothingness. Let it kill you and let it devour your remains. For all things will kill you, both slowly and fastly, but it's much better to be killed by a lover."
Whether or not Bukowski actually wrote that, I'm not sure. But I like it.
Find your passion and pursue it with all your heart and soul.