Dear Fellow Travelers,
When I decided to consider retiring from teaching, I knew I needed to be complete with the profession and my specific work environment. It’s difficult to explain if you’ve never experienced this, but the day I left the building the last time as a professional teacher, I knew I was complete. Because of that I’ve not regretted my decision, nor have I missed going to school a single day. This is not because I was unhappy; I truly loved teaching and the people with whom I worked, but the next phase of my life was calling me forward. As Cynthia Occelli would say, I wasn’t running from something I didn’t want, I was running toward something I wanted. I was being led to do exactly the work I’m doing, but I still had to be done with the previous phase. I needed to be certain that the last chapter had been written and the novel was complete. You see, I feel that our lives are not necessarily all one book with different chapters, but rather a collection of novels. They are connected by common characters, each containing a different central theme.
This thread of thought took me here: When we resist a completion of something that is ending, weactually cause ourselves more suffering. An odd analogy perhaps, but I experienced this recently with my computer. I had been thinking of buying a laptop; I wanted to be able to sit on the back patio in the mornings with the dog and still get my work started for the day. My plan had been to use the desktop as my primary computer and the laptop as my “remote”. The problem with this plan became evident as I started to realize that my desktop, having an older operating system and only 1 GB of RAM (Don’t laugh.) was becoming less effective by the hour. In addition, my son had suggested I do a recovery on the desktop to get rid of some add-ons I couldn’t seem to shed and so we began the process of backing up all the files and working with tech support every few days till that was done. (Because, of course, I had misplaced my recovery discs.) Feeling inspired by my new clean slate, I ordered some additional memory to make the computer more useful for uploading pictures to the website. My thought was that with a less-than-$20 investment, I could continue on as I had for the past few years and just maybe buy a laptop later when I felt better about spending the money. Then came another problem. . . I needed EXCEL and couldn’t get it without buying a complete Microsoft Office package. Hmmmm. . . Some of you are most likely asking yourselves why I couldn’t possibly just replace the desktop with the laptop under consideration, but see, that’s where it gets complicated for me. I was raised to “make do” with what was available. My brother and I often joke about how pragmatic we are, r-epurposing and patching until we have gotten the last shred of use out of something. Some of our favorite childhood memories come from times when we created something out of nothing and we still proudly share stories of ways to re-purpose. Now, I have to say, this has served me well in situations where this was necessary. However, knowing when to let go of a situation is vital to our well-being.
Clearly, I wasn’t ready to let go. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea of getting rid of a perfectly good computer, nor could I imagine considering a laptop as my only computer. Does this resonate with anyone out there? Well, the desktop solved my dilemma; it died a painful death when we tried to install the extra memory. At that point I knew I had been resisting completion. It was time to move on and accept life’s next tech phase. So today, I am happily typing away on my brand new laptop that offers many fascinating possibilities. There’s also a new printer sitting in a box just waiting to start interacting with its new partner. The past few weeks could have been much more joyful, not to mention productive, if I had been less resistant to a different course. If I had focused on the possibilities rather than dwelling on that to which I had become accustomed, this transition would have offered excitement in place of struggle.
My challenge for you today is to recognize when it’s time to let go and do that with grace and courage. However, get complete with whatever the current situation holds. Have the conversations; get things sorted in your mind; do the work that is needed so you can set the novel down and pick up the next having nothing but sweet memories from the experience. May your future hold many sublime novels.
Blessings & Light,