A little over a year ago I surprised myself (and others) by abruptly walking out of a very well-paying job that allowed me room to do all kinds of things I enjoy – strategic planning, developing new processes & tools, creating a department, inventing solutions – it was a great job in many ways; except that I hated the power structure, the top leadership and the overall corporate culture.
One day moves were made that left me far more exposed to those hated aspects of the organization. My boss, (best I ever had), who had explicitly and intentionally shielded me from the dickheads, was to be ‘transitioned out’. He (no more fond of the culture than I) said ‘why give you my summer? I’m leaving now’, and I said ‘Shit!.’ His shielding me only made a toxic culture bearable, but it still had its costs. No way could I have tolerated even a week without him. I’d have gone postal. Better unemployed than with blood on my hands. I left the next day. Unfortunately, my husband had been sub-contracting under me for the department, so I abruptly made us both voluntarily unemployed in the worst economy since the depression.
After getting a grip on the panic we felt, we came to a couple conclusions – first, neither of us was optimistic about the direction civilization is taking. We weren’t really buying the idea that things will ever get back to ‘normal’. By the time we’re retirement age (about a dozen years from now), who knows what the world will be like? Since the world seems to be falling apart and there was no guarantee our small retirement account would be there for us in 15 years anyway, we decided to live for the present and deal with the future as it comes. If needed, we could dig into our retirement funds. We’d still be better off than so many others in this recession.
Second, we concluded that we could spend a year and a half frantically spending most of each day job-hunting, since by all estimates, that’s probably what it would take, or we could sit the crisis out, live off our savings and reimagine our lives. We felt it was time to learn how to be in the world, in our lives, differently.
We felt that if the end was nigh, we’d at least not waste this time we’d suddenly snatched away from the old narrative. We’d enjoy ourselves. We’d live in the present.
From there, it was a very short leap to deciding it was time for me to write a book that I’ve been meaning to write, and afraid of writing, for a very long time.
We came to the conclusion that if I had just pulled the plug on a life we’d tried to make for ourselves, and if all our worst fears were about to descend on us, then there wasn’t any more time to waste. It was time to live our lives as we felt they were meant to be lived. The threat of disaster, like a terminal diagnosis, made us take the time we have left much more seriously.
Which meant long daily walks, relishing our freedom, deepening our marriage physically, spiritually, and emotionally, increasing our soul practices, reading together more and discussing what we read, working on healing old wounds – and me writing this book that has been haunting me for thirty years.
The decisions we made came slowly and there are still days when they terrify us – we have no income, no health insurance, no assurance jobs will be there when we want them. But at the same time, we do not waiver. We see this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, not to be squandered with flailing and what-ifs and self-doubts. Time has slowed down, I write every day, we savor this time together, we understand more about ourselves and our lives and our souls each day. We are grateful for one another, this period of slowing and deepening, the time we have on this planet. The book takes shape.