Over the last couple of weeks, the question I’ve been asked most often has been if I’m packed yet. Umm… no. The backpack I’m taking was in San Francisco until Saturday (thanks, Andrew!) and typically I like wearing my clothes, rather than wandering around nekkid while they sit in tidy, laundered piles.
No worries, though. I’m mostly done buying, assembling, and organizing, and I started list-making a week ago. All on track. 🙂
Of course, the next most common question is whether I’m excited yet or not. About… the trip? The new job? Both? Neither? The answer all around is no, actually. Not the way people would typically think. I tend to disappoint folks that way. It seems the bigger the event, the more muted my reaction to it. I do not get worked up by anticipation. I get worked up by accomplishment.
Yeah, it’s a lot of change happening at once. But it’s just not how I’m wired. In my mind, a lot of things have to get checked off before I can go, “Ok, right. Now we’re here. Rock on.” I’m not at ease if the checklist is still in play.
Yes, I’m looking forward to France, and yes, I’ll be glad to not have to do my current job anymore, but none of these things is affecting my heart rate. They’re not monopolizing my thoughts. They are, for the time being, still current events. And there’s a lot going on between now and May 26th.
I know Sherry and I will have a good time in the Languedoc and see amazing things and take fabulous pictures and drink excellent wine and eat wonderful food. We’ll get there soon enough.
And I have a good feeling about the new company I’m going to work for and the job I’ll be doing and the people I’ll be working with and the benefit I’ll be bringing to the company and its customers. I’ll get there soon enough.
Besides, if you remain on an even keel before things happen, it leaves more room to be pleasantly surprised or to not be crushed by disappointment.
For most of life, I expected to get excited about things. To feel anticipation, trepidation, and a sense of “Ohboyohboyohboy!!!” But I’ve gotten used to this. Quitting this job made me nervous, even though I’d already signed on the dotted line for the next one. But that was mostly a function of lingering job-related paranoia thanks to past experiences. The actual decision to leap cost me nothing, emotionally. (Which isn’t that surprising given that I’ve been casually looking for a new position since last fall, and this isn’t the first job I’ve moved on from.)
But in six months, when (hopefully) I look back and think how much better life is with this job, and consider all the pieces that fell into place for me to get it, then I’ll have my moment. Then I’ll see The Grand Plan — the cosmic checklist. (I LIVE for glimpses of the cosmic checklist.)
Interestingly, the same thing applies to negative life events. Depressing, sure, but I don’t fall into hopeless paralysis. Time to get to work. Or, if there’s nothing to be done but wait for enough time to pass, then I monitor time. I take an emotional pulse when I wake up in the morning to see where I’m at.
We’ve yet to figure out how to go over, under, or around trauma. And you rarely know when it will end. You don’t know when you will stop actively grieving a death. You don’t know when a breakup will stop making it hard to get up in the morning. You don’t know when you’ll find a new job after being laid off.
Getting all worked up about it would wear me out — quite possibly long before we were done. Then what? I take care of me, and other people, sometimes when there hasn’t been anyone else suitable to do it. And so I pace myself. We’ll get there soon enough.
Ironically, though, rarely can you pinpoint when you got there. Sometimes, there will be a milestone, which you celebrate, or at least mark, and then move on from. Often, though, you just realize things have faded, and your focus has moved on to other things. You realize you’re okay, or, hell, even great, and then realize that, actually, yesterday, and maybe the day before that, weren’t so bad, either. Then you breathe a sigh of relief or give yourself a bit of a pat on the back. And then life goes on. There’s always something else comin’ round the bend.
So instead of the excitement of expectation, I have the pleasure of retrospection. I have looked back on things that happened, that I made it through, that I accomplished, and I derive a great deal of satisfaction from seeing how the pieces all fit together. Finally gleaning the whys, great and small. Some day, Y will happen, but you will have needed to experience X to be able to fully enjoy/manage/survive it.
And the pieces do always fit together. (To date in my life, my niece has probably been the biggest final, explanatory puzzle piece to arrive.) Everything does happen for a reason, but it can take years before we know why. Of course, knowing why doesn’t always mean you’re satisfied or over it or at peace. It just means you know why.
I’d better smile when I finally figure out what the value was of learning about phone systems and call centre operations, dammit… 🙂
So no, I’m not packed yet. I’m not all a-quiver. But on the small scale, I have a backpack and clean clothes and travel-sized contacts solution. And on the grand scale, I know what Sherry and I have been through to get to the point of stepping on that plane. Changes in jobs, apartments, houses, cars, relationships, family… As I said, I get worked up by accomplishment, and by God, we have earned this trip.
And I know, too, what earned me my new job. The pursuit of interests, the development of skills, the application of aptitudes, the formation of connections and relationships. Voila. No wonder my friends have said it reads like my dream job. It should. It’s been a long time coming.