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Friday, August 10, 2018

Life's Destinations and Stops Along the Path.

I was talking to a now former fellow employee recently and she let me know she was moving on from her job from our employer. She was telling me that she had reevaluated her priorities and determined the time was right to consider her options.  I asked her about how she came to the conclusion.  I won't reveal much of the conversation except to say she felt like it was a move she had to take for multiple reasons.  One was financial, but even more important to her was that her new position gave her the sense that she'd make more of a difference in the lives of others.  She gave me a bit of her history or path to this position.  It made me ponder why she didn't hadn't made a beeline to the new position in when she had applied to my work.  In other words, if she felt like this new position would be more in line with her 'need' to make a difference, why didn't she go in that direction first.  Inasmuch as her new position will be a different sort of job, I had also wondered how she felt about her current position.

Her responses paraphrased included:
  • I have learned a lot from my current position.  In other words, while it may not be ultimately where felt she was called to be, it wasn't like she wasted her time.  She learned a lot and helped others to the extent she was able to.
  • Personal circumstance opened me eyes as far as what is important to me.  She had a recent tragedy in her life and that focused her attention on what was important to her.
I respect that and it also got me to thinking that it is so easy to second guess why we didn't see the obvious earlier.  Hindsight is said to be 20/20 for a reason.  It is also easy to ignore or forget the fact that we weren't ready for the situation or the situation wasn't ready for us.  Sometimes, we have to make another stop before we get to the destination we need to be and sometimes we have to have a game-changer in our lives to push us in a direction that we didn't have the courage or motivation to go.  And just sometimes, a seemingly small ripple can eventually become a wave.

A few examples:
  • I bought tickets to a sold out show for my now ex-wife's birthday.   On the way to the concert I lost the tickets.  I didn't really realize it was sold out and I figured I'd get more tickets.  However, when we got there, they were turning people away who didn't have tickets.  I felt awful and made a commitment to her that if the band came into town again I'd get her tickets to it.  
    • As Aerosmith was taking their sweet time making it back to St. Louis, I looked where they were touring and I saw Las Vegas and I got this idea?   Why not see them in Las Vegas and taking in Las Vegas.
    • I loved the rental car I drove much more than my own car.  I realized I'd rather have that car.  After holding out two months, I finally caved and traded in my car for a car just like the rental.
    • One seemingly small event--the loss of tickets, led to a trip to Vegas and trading in my car.
  • It was 2016 and my wife was pushing me to trade-in or replace my 10 year old car.  I was bound and determine to hold on another year to it, even if I had to dump more money into it.  I hated the car, but I was determined to work on fixing my credit more.  I had this plan in place as of January 5, 2017 that I would wait until the beginning of next year (2018) to get a new car and would keep the old car as a 2nd car to offload some of my annual miles (30K+)
    • One day (January 5, 2017)  on the way to work on snowy, slightly icy day, the driver in front of me spun out around a curve, hit the wall and came to dead stop.  By the time I got around the curve in the road and saw her, it was too late.  In one instant my best laid plans came to a crashing stop (literally).
    • I had to replace the car immediately.  I got a new car, but was unhappy as I didn't have the 2nd car I had planned. (2016 Ford Focus Titanium).  This led me to get a 2nd car that was 7 years old.  (2011 Mazda 3 GT)
    • I like the 2nd car engine and handling so much I wished I'd had the new version of that car as my first car.  After about 6 months, i traded in my 2011 Madza 3 GT for a 2018 version which had the fun of the 2011 version and the features of a new car.
    • So, in one instant, I went from having a 10 year old car to eventually having 2 newer cars.  Who'd have thought?
    • I was injured for the better part of 2017 from the accident and that led me to be aware of people's reckless driving. 

Now these examples aren't tragic, though the injury related to accident was rough.  My point is this.  Sometimes we have plans and we have goals (and sometimes we don't even realize them fully), but we don't always get to the destinations we are going to directly.   We sometimes take detours.  I was gong to get a new car and have a 2nd car, but I was going to do it on my own time or so I thought.  I wasn't ready for a new car.  I was stuck in the punishment myself (by driving an old beat up car) for having to declare bankruptcy after divorce mode.  It literally took a crash course in crashing to break that mode.


My former coworker was eventually going to get a teaching job (destination), but she didn't know it at the time.  She had to first have a layover at my employer (stop over) and than a tragedy in her life (catalyst for the change).   She had moved from her previous employer to a similar position at my employer and clearly that where she felt she was right for.  It took a tragedy to realize that my employer was a stop along the way rather than her destination.  She could have said, her new job is what she should have 'always done', but she chose to view our employer as a good stop along the way from which she learned from and which gave her time to figure out what she needed.

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As we get used to seismic shifts in our life, we take for granted how we got there.  Sometimes we get there gradually and we have time to adjust, but sometimes they happen in an instant and we just have to immediately adjust to a new reality.  There can be a sense that the shift was to a place that was 'always' going to be our destination or destiny.  But, it wasn't always that clear.  How we got there may ultimately be a result of a small change (losing concert tickets) or a larger one (losing a loved one) that changes our trajectory.

Sometimes we think where we shifted to is our 'true' destiny or destination, but as we get older and look back we can also see that it was always just a stop along the way. 

I guess ultimately my point is this: Life changes sometimes whether we want it to or not.  Sometimes it is in an instant, sometimes it is gradual. It may be a 'destiny' or a stop along the way.   Sometimes it is change we see we needed for a long time (and we can condemn ourselves about it with the clarity of 20/20).   But whatever the case, I think it is important to be open to and embrace, even if it is painful a new reality.  Even if it is somewhere we don't want to be, we have to always remember, in time it may be where we need to be or it may be a pathway to where we will be.

Just some random musings on changes in life....