Last Chapter / New Chapter

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WELL.

Here it is.

By the time this post publishes, I will be more than halfway through the last day of a job that I’ve held for nearly a decade!

It’s definitely bittersweet.

I am sad. There are so many things that still need to be done, that I wish I could be here to do. And it’s hard to leave behind the day-to-day relationships with truly beloved colleagues.

And it’s certainly scary to be ACTUALLY laid off!

To move into SUCH an unknown.

I’ve never left a job other than voluntarily before. 

But I’m excited too. This is a whole new chapter of my life. This is a chance to move in new directions and expand on directions that the past 10 years have built into me. 

I’ve surfed many a wave of reflection these past few days.

SO many  memories and experiences from these last 10 years, this place, this work. 

Some of these are BIG DEAL experiences.

In this job I got to work on projects that literally change people’s lives. That is an honour and a treasure I never imagined.

I’ve gotten to meet and correspond with some of my heroes in the field; people who have transformed the world and the way we interact with it. Quite a treat for a starry eyed kid from Phoenix, Arizona!

Some are not BIG DEAL experiences at all.

Yet these are are among the memories I hope pass before my eyes in my final moments.

I’ve gotten to work (even if just briefly) on 5 continents. And to work closely, over a long period, with people on 6 of them. You don’t get that in the average day job!

One of the most magical meals I’ve ever enjoyed was on a work trip:

The power outage struck as my boss, a colleague, and I waited for our meal on the open air rooftop of a little Indian restaurant in Nairobi, Kenya.

In the US they probably would have closed the place down.

In Nairobi, though, we sat and talked, laughed, and ate incredible food, for two hours, in the dark.

No one, customers or staff, was remotely disturbed by our near invisibility. If anything the event transformed us from a couple dozen separate parties into one big one.

I have seldom enjoyed a meal more.

The best cup of coffee I’ve ever tasted, and the best chai, were also the blessings of work trips.

And the PEOPLE I’ve met! 

The most dedicated, intelligent, and determined people I’ve ever met have been blessings of this job.

And not just my brilliant colleagues or the occasional big wig.

I met a waiter in Dominican Republic who, at all of 23, spoke three languages and was going to school nights to learn a fourth.

I speak one. I’ve tried hard to change that, and I still speak one.

This intelligent, dedicated, young man will never have the opportunities I had simply by being born where, and to whom, I was born, but he had more initiative than I’ve ever had.

That meeting was one of my greatest honours. That waiter stands in my hall of heroes.

Now, this job was not perfect.

Like any other job, this one has been stressful, frustrating, irritating, even maddening over the course of nearly 10 years.

Picture if you will the annoyances of bureaucracy and office politics multiplied by working across 90 countries, and every time zone known to man.

That none of us have ever strangled another is probably due as much to the fact that we were on different continents than to our inherent good nature or even our Christianity!

And the enormous blessing of working with people on 6 continents, inherently requires the curse of very, very, very long haul flights. With associated jet lag.

So, many memories centre around just trying to keep my forehead off the table toward the end of a long meeting on the second day of jet lag.

I vividly remember, at the end of a very important strategy meeting, riding in an elevator with four colleagues, trying to continue a discussion we had been having.

We found our exhausted selves unable to carry out complete sentences, and those leaning against the elevator walls were nodding off – on a four floor ride!

We thankfully determined that strategic decisions should NOT be made by us, then, and at least enjoyed a very healing laugh.

So yes, bittersweet.

A big chunk of my life fit into those 9+ years.

And those 9+ years have fitted me for things I would never have imagined.

I look to the next chapter with interest and excitement, in part because of what this past decade has given me.

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