I came across this picture the other day and am trying to remember why the heck I took it. I didn’t take it with my phone but with my heavy, bulky, big-girl Canon . . . which further tells me that this was a special moment that I wanted to record with my “good camera.”
Weird. I’m not sure but I think that I was celebrating, having just moved into a fantastic temporary beachfront rental for what turned out to be four exquisite months. This transition was one of those ideas that had been on my Wish List for years: Live on the beach during the stormy winter months to write. This recent move into such a fantastic rental embodied everything included in my wish. Therefore, I am thinking that I was celebrating.
While living in this house, I experienced bliss and I experienced some stressful moments, too. What led to me being able to fulfill this writing-at-the-beach-in-the-winter wish is that I had just been unceremoniously and ungraciously laid off from the college where I had been teaching my dream class. This teaching gig had been so perfect all the way around. Great schedule, creative freedom, great interaction in the classroom, head of my own experiential-learning program, and meaningful learning moments for the students.
I was in the midst of a Great Moment while teaching at this institution, although I’m not sure that I was completely aware of this at the time. There was an unavoidable departmental evolution happening with orders from on high. We instructors in our department all worried that we would lose our positions each quarter, wondering what we would do for work if the seemingly-inevitable happened. It felt like I was living on the fringe of an unwelcome reality that was sure to shake things up into a state of uncertainty.
Well, that’s the thing about inevitability. It ultimately happens. And it did. And I got laid off, so I decided that now was the time to do One Thing on my wish list. And so I took up residence in the most fantastic of homes on a Pacific Northwest beach. And I was so excited!
And then reality set in. My blissful rental time at the beach house morphed into a move into a different home in the community. Bills stacked up on the counter, I wondered what I would do next for work, and my time to write was eroded by my search for work in a tiny community that relied on tourist dollars.
I found myself on a journey of un-finding myself as I tried on job after job: early-childhood instructor, barista at a crazy bakery, grocery-checker at the food co-op, vet technician, art gallery salesperson, museum admin person, tourist/visitor help, data entry at a local non-profit, substitute teacher at the elementary school . . . am I forgetting a few others? All of these new roles to try out . . . and not one of them a very good fit at that. In my mind, I could see myself settling happily into the uncomplicated position of being a smiling and happy grocery clerk in a quaint, ocean-side village . . . but then a pervasive sense of me-not-being-me would settle in around me and I would know it was time to try something else new. To try a new One Thing on my wish list.
The thing about wishes is that they don’t always manifest in the way that we think that they will. Or they don’t turn out to be all that. Or they lead to something completely different that’s even better than what we could have imagined because the original wish turns out to be what I wasn’t exactly wanting after all.
And what I learned from my time of transition and recovery is that life is just one single moment of transition that is marked by a varied, sometimes-disguised, always-surprising series of Great Moments.
Today? I find myself ready to try a new adventure. I am moving again . . . a move that is taking me away from this odd and funny and quaint little community to a larger city that will provide a completely new adventure. It’s a time to embrace change and dust off my Wish List and try One New Thing that I suspect will become another Great Moment in the making.
I wonder what my first night in my new home will look like, and I am reminding myself to take a picture, a snapshot of time, that marks new beginnings that symbolize a melding of celebrating and re-grouping. And living off my Wish List into a new era of Great Moments.
Life is funny this way. We never know when a dreaded moment of the inevitable will lead to a journey of un-finding oneself. Time to explore One New Thing.
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