This past week I slept two floors above where I used to work. It was odd. As I walked past my old office I had a flood of memories and mixed emotions. Stranger still was being there at night. Hearing the sounds of the deep forest behind me and the going’s on of the university campus at night. The clear sound of songbirds in the early morning with no urban soundscape to muffle the lovely notes of a forest waking to the day. The greys and greens and mossy damp of the castle quietly slumbering before its inhabitants arrive for work and beyond, the ocean lapping in on the edge of this university that has been in my life for over half a decade.
As I walked to my classroom in the morning, I thought how different my experience was an an employee versus now. I feel the lightness of freedom, and while it does come at a price (no government benefits, no days, as in ever, where you can coast through, or attend a two-hour meeting that goes nowhere, or go to a potluck party for a colleague), I realize with every step that my freedom is, above all, the most important thing to me because it allows me to teach in a way that was not possible before as an ’employee’.
In the classroom there are moments when I look into the students eyes and see the connection between what I am saying and their understanding of it. This makes it all worth it, the moment of interaction around an idea, where we journey from the beginning of the day to somewhere else by the end. I’m never really sure if we’ll make it. I’m never really sure if the students will come with me. I’m never sure if what I’ll say will have any meaning for them. All I can be sure of, as I walk into the classroom, is that I will give my entire being to it as long as they entrust me to be their guide for the time we are together.
It’s a truly beautiful campus when the lens you look through is the one you were meant to see with. If you ever have a chance to visit, be sure to wander the gardens. They are extraordinary and I guarantee you will find inspiration there. Hatley Park is a National Heritage site in Canada which is often overlooked when folks come to visit Victoria. If you are able, visit in late May when the Forsythia is in bloom and walk the walled Rose Garden. The scent will linger in your imagination long after you are gone.
Some years are more momentous than others. On New Year’s, as it gets closer to midnight, you will already know that it is one of those years. Seminal. Momentous. Stormy. Love-filled. Career transforming. Heart-wrenching. Joy inducing. Great loss, gift of bigger insights, karma repaid triple-fold.
It was that kind of year for me. Only you know what it means to you though. No matter who you may be kissing.
There’s been maybe three such years in my whole life, where you see the line in the sand and can clearly say, that year changed everything.
I didn’t want to see it at the time, but I clearly see now that I had to have such a year to get it. Get all of it. All I was supposed to learn up to this point.
So, I’m feeling pretty (unexpectedly) poised for goodness of all kinds. But first, when a race is finished, when you’ve got over the top of the mountain, and you’re strolling down it, the birds are singing, and there’s an ease after the toil–take the time to realize that although what you were chasing didn’t bring you exactly what you wanted but rather what you needed, say thank you at midnight. Just once. But do it sincerely.
I am thankful for the blessing of my many lessons of 2012 but more importantly, that I learned them. I don’t most years. But this year I did so it’s kind of big. I’m going to go pour some champagne and savour the moment. Breathe in. Breathe out. Be done.
To you and yours, all the very best for 2013. May your secret dreams begin to see the light.
I can’t remember what year it is, maybe 2004? and my life was sort of falling apart on me at the time and I saw an Oprah clip where she said, ‘you know, you have to imagine that your destiny is like the mother ship and while you may be in a dinghy on stormy waters, just keep looking ahead for the mother ship and paddle like mad towards it.’ For some reason, that analogy has always stuck with me and I’ve been paddling pretty hard every since.
But last night, in a moonlit room at 2 am, I realized with no small degree of excitement, that the mother ship is right in front of me now. Right there. A rope’s throw away. Wow. All that paddling has paid off I guess. I didn’t sleep much but it doesn’t matter.
When you can equate months to reaching your ship versus years, that is something to jump around your living room about. I guess it’s what they say alignment is, that feeling where what you have always wanted to do meets your skills and the opportunity to make it happen.