“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of dispair.”
-Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
I do it, you do it, we all do it. New Years Resolutions, New Day Intentions, bullet point on a list of things to do; intentions, resolutions, plans, expectations and whatever else we decide must be or we must do or the ever-popular Must Have. It can range from a good deed paid forward, the desire to rid oneself of extra pounds, unwanted baggage, unhealthy habits and behaviors to unpleasant, unrelenting thoughts or feelings. We may want to ditch the pint glass for a water bottle and leave the inside behind to step outside instead into the tree-lined paths of our neighborhood, or the track at the local high school to walk, run, meander or just sit, sipping water and contemplating our next move.
This is something that we all have in common and it’s not the only thing by far. But during this especially difficult and unprecedented year of WTAF as division of the people, by the people and throughout the people is the Special of the Day every day, I feel a reminder of our commonality is due and I’m going to attempt to be the bringer of that to you, dear reader. Forgive all errors or don’t, either way it’s ok.
I’ll tell you a story of the best of intentions during the worst of times and how it became my saving grace.
I retired in December of 2018 with 21 years in service and a deep desire to do something else. This would be the best of intentions part of the story, as I thought I was going to go out and change the world, do some real soul-satisfying, hands in the dirt, boots on the ground, In Real Life change and bring actual Positive Effect. I was going to save some souls, make some connections, bring some peace and hope and light to the world, once I left that cubicle, baby! Finish my 10+ years and counting unfinished AA degree, maybe travel, maybe start doing yoga and go to a retreat to confront my demons on peyote, whatever – just DO SOMETHING!
Fast forward to present day – I have traveled, I have brought change and peace and light. I didn’t get to do the peyote thing, but I have a great job with some amazing ladies and a couple of gentlemen who somehow thrive in the estrogen-rich environment and it feels like a family. I had given up my car, my apartment, a whole ton of material things and a job when I retired in 2018 and I now have an apartment, my first new car ever (terrified and excited), a few special material things but I have realized that less is truly more for me, so I haven’t replaced everything I gave away back then.
Most importantly, I have found peace in who I am and faith in where I am going and what I am doing; I don’t feel the need to control each and every move, thought and action. I don’t fill my mind with other people’s thoughts and beliefs of me, even if they have gone out of their way to voice them. Those belong to them, not me. I have learned I have the choice whether to take them on as my own or to return to sender. That is incredibly powerful and has paved the way for better thoughts and more positive beliefs of my own.
I have stumbled, fallen and lost my way during these years and it has been through the kindness of strangers who I met along the way and those who have known and loved for decades that I have been able to rise again and continue walking. This has been true not only of the last couple of years, but my entire life.
Whether we are diagnosed with some mental illness, learning disability, chronic apathy or malcontent, it is a universal truth (I believe) that we all struggle as individuals, as souls and as human beings. We have our own desires, wishes, hopes and dreams as well as goals and missions and callings. How to best serve our gifts, talents and vocations during the Worst of Times?
I don’t know, but I’m certain we all must try to find common ground. We all must try. Something.
Remember that we are all going to suffer the consequences of our actions and it is our actions only that we have any measure of control over, so how about we do a little each day to love ourselves a little more, give some time to mourn, to vent, to sleep it off or to ask for help? Loving yourself doesn’t mean you have to bear the burden by yourself; loving yourself means you know you are only one person and the load is greater than your ability to carry it by yourself. Either stand by the roadside with your load, try to carry it by yourself and break your back, or ask for help and enjoy the added benefit of some company on the journey. It’s a choice, it’s your choice and you can decide what sort of outcome you’d like to have and what kind of experience it will be.
I’ve had to ask for help and it’s only for the asking that my friends and family were able to know I was in somewhat dire straits and how they were able to help me find my way back to the right path and get back on the journey. I literally could not be here right now, where I am, all snug as a bug in a rug, had it not been for all the good souls who saw something in me that they felt was worth taking a chance on, investing in and supporting. Time and time again, you have been the rock that I’ve thrown my drowning body on, gasping and coughing for air in a sea that wants to consume me. You are my rock, and you rock. Thank you seems so insufficient for what I want to express and hugging is out, so I’m going to trust you all are hugging the stuffing out of yourself right now because that’s what I’d be doing, if I were able.
I guess I accomplished what I set out to do, even if the itinerary wasn’t one I would’ve necessarily chosen or even knew existed, I did it. I left my cubicle, my OG Work Family and my Old Life and went out and started a new chapter in the book “My Life Outside City Hall; the Adventures of an Administrative Assistant Unleashed” watch for it in local bookstores sometime in my lifetime, or even after. Who knows? The possibilities are endless.
Thanks for hanging in until the very end. This was a rambler, to be sure but it’s been a while and I’ve missed you, so lots to say, don’cha know.