One day I will write a reflective post documenting the last fortnight, that will be insightful and useful (I hope). But today is not that day because insight requires perspective, which in turn requires distance. And I don't have distance.
For now I am still swimming around in the tide-line of what has been an anxious, uncertain and difficult time that started when we moved south, and finished last week when I resigned my job. These 18 months have presented challenge after challenge, and whilst some have been wonderful and will hopefully prove transformative in the long run, others have just been plain, gut-wrenching hard work. My stress levels have been chronically high, my blood pressure has been through the roof and I feel like I am just escaping the pull of a massive black hole, that I thought I was going to be lost in forever. Had I left the choice any longer I think I would have ended up in breakdown. That's the horrendous and upsetting truth. There have been days I couldn't get out of bed, days where I have cried every hour of the day in work and out, days where I have questionned the value of my own existence. I was in a sorry place.
To borrow a phrase from David Brookes' outstanding article in the NY Times, "gradually a humiliating gap opens between your actual self and your desired self", and this is how I felt. That my life was no longer my own, that what I wanted was drifting further away from me than ever before, and that my work no longer matched my values: which have always enjoyed a complete sanctity.
So I decided with shaky hand and shakier heart to take a huge leap of faith, draw a line under my current career and to start afresh with a blank sheet, asking only 'what is life asking of me? what more can I do with this one precious life?'. On the outside this will seem nothing big - people quit their jobs all the time - but to me it's the single biggest decision I have ever made. Bar none. But backed into a corner, it felt more important than ever to stand alongside my values and say this is not the way to match my "intrinsic talents with the worlds deep needs".
The problem of course is that I don't yet know how to answer my own questions about purpose and mission. Armed without a god for a calling, and with somewhat knocked confidence in what exactly I can do - I have only a sense of ambition to try. Mercifully, I have a lot of ideas and dreams, and enough experience to piece a new way of life together. I want to get back to the heart of education, to helping others find personal growth, to more time outside, to the mountains, to art, to writing...all of these things just to start. I'm hungry to see and feel the good again in the world. Beyond the extreme emotional tiredness (seriously, from about 3pm I could just sleep!) I am so excited to rejoin those who have heard the call within a call.
In the days leading up to my final work day - 2.5 months from now - I have a lot to do. Much of it is pragmatic in terms of moving to self-employment and getting my finances in order, buying all the things I need now with my final salaries etc. But some of it is also reprogramming my way of thinking so that I can draw a new identity from the things I am now and today. Not shackled by what I was becoming, and how bad I felt about that. Or worse, what I have failed to be. No one tells you in the 'quitting your day job' articles, how you make the transition from being one thing for such a long time, to something entirely different. When your whole life is wrapped up in your career, it's quite the shock to ask yourself 'who am I now?'.
But there are also exciting things to plan and look forward to. I will move into freelance educational consultancy if all goes well, I will build Blue Eggs and Tea as a full outfit, I may try geology teaching in a new, fresh way, write my book, finish my Mountain training, I'll try new volunteering opportunities, perhaps even get a dog! I will do what I have to do until I know.
Becoming minimal in mindset has been a huge help these last few months, as has decluttering and learning to live with less. I'm even starting to do the cooking and have already nailed home made Gnocchi (I gave up cooking long ago). Everything is being stripped away to see what's left and I'm ready for that finally. A friend on Instagram said you're now a 'free range human' and it made my heart sing with truth; because despite the difficult times gone, and the ones ahead, I feel as if I have laid, not a Blue Egg, but a beautiful, hopefilled and untarnished Golden Egg...