Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Moving Day

"The world is round and the place that may seem like the end may also be the beginning." (Ivy Baker Priest)

Today I wasn't there.  

I wasn't where I've always been the last 30 years at this time.  And to be honest, it feels a little weird.  

A part of me feels a little lost; a little wistful.  A little like a boy sitting in his bedroom, looking out the window watching his friends run and play, but sadly knowing he can't join them, because he's moving.  Moving to another place where he's going to have to make new friends, learn to do new things, and learn to once again leave the past behind and start all over.

That boy would tell you he's excited about moving somewhere new and that change is a good thing.  After all, he's done it many, many times before:  New Jersey, Texas, South Carolina, California, Roseburg (twice!), Beaverton (3 times!), Scholls, Corvallis, Portland, Medford, Grants Pass.  Each place he's been has left an imprint on him and made him who he is.  

But this move is a really big one.  And it's been awhile since he's moved.  Eight years?  Yeah - that was a pretty big move.  But more like 21 years since anything this big.  Two decades of dust disturbed and memories to pack away.  That's a lot.  In fact, none of what he had accumulated over all those years would be of any value where he was going.  He had to leave it all behind and start over.

He thought he was ready for the move.  That's what he'd been telling everyone for months.  He knew that every one of the reasons for the move were all good and sound.  There was nothing that he regretted.  Friends who saw him recently said, "I've never seen you so relaxed and happy!".  Still others were envious.  "I wish I could do what you're doing and go where you're going!", they'd whisper to him.  Almost everyone hugged him, or laughed and slapped him on the back, saying "Well done!  We'll miss you!"  Only one person said, "I think you're making a mistake.  You shouldn't leave." - and the boy didn't quite know what to make of that.

All seemed settled.  All seemed good.  All seemed normal.  Until today.  Today was Moving Day.

Today as the boy drove through town he saw places just like where he had always been these last 30 years.  The parking lots were full.  The people inside were all talking and busy as bees.  They had important stuff to do.  Even though he couldn't hear them, the boy could feel their excitement and the feeling of anticipation as they got ready to do what they did best.  They were teammates and they were glad to be working together, doing what they do.  Something the boy used to do too - for a long time.  He was once part of a team too - a great team.  But not today.  He had moved away.

"Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending." (Lazarus Long)

I am that boy today, as I watch teachers all around the valley return to their schools this week to get ready for Opening Day.  For 30 years, I did what they did, felt what they felt, and worked hard at doing the noble job they all do.  

It's been a couple of months since I walked away from South Medford for the last time.  I had a busy summer - filled with events happy and sad - filled with projects big and small - filled with all the usual stuff of summer.  So it's not a surprise that I hadn't yet really "felt" the reality of my retirement.  I suspected this was coming.  Just didn't really know what I would feel.  Nothing sad or bitter.  Nothing giddy or relieved.  Just a little empty.  A little wistful.  Thoughtful.  Reflective.  

I wish all of my hard working former colleagues at South all the best.  I know they will be working very, very hard this year.  It will be a difficult year for many of them - big changes are being required of them - which is one of the reasons why I didn't want to stay.  I knew it was time for me to say "Goodbye".  To move on to a different phase in my life and to explore new worlds.

Goodbyes - real goodbyes - not "See you laters" or "Catch you next times!" - aren't easy.  But it's good to remember that they always contain hope within them, along side the emptiness.  There can be no new beginning, no real growth, nothing fresh - without a real goodbye.

“I give you this to take with you:
Nothing remains as it was. If you know this, you can
begin again, with pure joy in the uprooting.” (Judith Minty)

I'm glad that Moving Day has finally come.  I think I'm finally ready to go.  Goodbye, good luck Panthers!  Though I may see you again sometime this year, I know things will be different.  I will be just a visitor.  But a friendly one.