Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Structure and Identity

I'm back after a couple of weeks with the kids. This entailed working a bit, doing things with them, working on more of my stuff (literal and figurative), cleaning up after them, feeding them, (not in that order) and eventually making plans for dinner, the next day and the rest of their lives.

I miss them deeply when they aren't here (now live with their Dad outside of Nashville) but when they are here the work isn't just in everyday upkeep. In fact they need very little of that. Mostly they need feedback, small interactions, a bit of pushing ("If you want to have some money you have to earn it.") and then backing off.

Another large part of the work is keeping myself in the right place. If things break in the house, it doesn't mean I have to make it all better for them. Who could have predicted the pool filter, ice machine and the air conditioning - during the first heat wave of the year - would have all gone FUBAR at once? And we still have to find time to install the new dishwasher and microwave. (These were appliances I didn't care much about anyway, especially with a spare micro for heating up my coffee and popcorn:)

Anyway, the teenagers have gotten used to being very sedentary after school, without sports or school activities this year, and without the whirling social life of Kirkwood (where we moved from last year).

I can relate because my days have been very open since I left my job last year. It's become a sabbatical, tho I didn't plan it that way.

Not a lot of what I plan actually comes off the way I think it will. That isn't a negative statement, but acknowledging the essential nature of our lives: chaos.

I read a few months ago, in some Project Management literature, that no matter how well we estimate the length of time an action takes, it always actually takes longer to complete.

This has been proven and became a named principle (will have to see if it is back in this blog) and that gives it validity.

So I didn't consider this a sabbatical until it went past 6 months (a few weeks ago). Now it is more than a lull between jobs, and I've made it that way on accident/purpose.

There is a deep sense of not needing to rush this, to both keep my financial feet on the ground, and yet to make sure that I don't just jump back into the workforce as I usually do. I'm lucky to have had a career in a fairly high demand arena, but the thrill is gone.

Could I do it again? Sure. I'm one of those people who can find meaning in anything, or at least humour :) And I'm still deep down a computer geek.

But my intuition tells me that there is something else going on right now. A shift not only in our country politically, economically, etc, but also in many individuals. Now I have no way to know if more people than usual are changing their lives (who would measure that??), or if they are changing, is it simply in response to the external events - housing crisis, fuel costs, global warming, etc. And does it matter why they are changing, if they are?

At any rate I can say that there is no doubt I'm heading for a career change.

The process feels something like a slow burn that is heating up. It's very similar to my decisions about divorces years ago. It didn't happen overnight, there were months of long walks, long talks, lots of writing, years of counseling, but eventually a decision emerged, completely intact.

With the birth of my decisions, I had complete certainty about the choice. To say it was a gut feeling is shortchanging it.

In some ways those points in my life were transcendent because I allowed the process to unfold as it needed to. (In other ways they were transcendent because they were so damn hard.)

There's just no reason to rush something as major as a life decision about your partner. And for the same reason I didn't rush into Judaism - there were years of hanging around it, years of then enjoying it personally, and then months of considering if it worked for me. Finally a year of study sealed the deal.

Of course the cross over points of getting divorced, choosing my faith and changing careers doesn't mean I'm done. These are just gateways into new chapters. But the process, the journey matters.

I'm not always good at thinking through all the details of what happens next. This is a blessing and a curse. Sometimes I forge in where angels fear to tread and other times I get surprised (good thing I love surprises, um, mostly). Sometimes happily, other times miserably.

The move here to Atlanta took months to orchestrate, and I had no inkling it would lead to a complete change of my identity.

There is nothing like centering your life around raising three strong children to set you up for an earthquake when they move out. Lots of parents could have told you that, Jones.

I just didn't have much time to prepare, unlike when they enter college.

When you add my move, a layoff and an engagement to the mix, well, it's a perfect storm.

I keep coming back to the notion that the "end point" or result of all this is
  1. Undefinable - the benefit and losses will be a chaotic mix at best and
  2. Reasoned. There is a reason for this particular combination of events, even if I never fully comprehend them. This implies some sort of orchestration, perhaps divine, but it's only an implication.
  3. Structure matters - as in how I structure my days, my time, my responses
  4. Null. There is no end point.
But there is for this post.

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