I confided to a friend several months ago over strong espresso I was thinking of leaving my job. I remember the moment clearly, sunshine was streaming through the windows of the cafe, onto our table. She was smiling, and I was fighting the rush of emotion coming up from my heart, through my head and out the corners of my eyes. I haven't ever done anything in my life for this long, I added, wiping away the water with a grainy recyclable napkin.
She inquired how long I'd worked for them. I considered. Well, at least four years, a little more. I laughed. The same amount of time it took me to get my degree, I say, then take a sip from my cup.
It seems to me, she replied, that this job was like obtaining a second degree.
Long after that conversation was complete, after another few months of trip planning, organizing, logistics orchestrating, travel, guiding, working like mad, I sat back on this thought. I organized my own thoughts and made the phone call. It took under ten minutes, and had the tidy conciseness of a doctor stitching up a small cut. You're finished? Yes. When? Two weeks. I'll send you the paper work. You'll return X, Y and Z. Your final trip will be such and such a date. Thank you for your hard work. Thread pulled through, knotted, wound completely, neatly, cleanly closed. And that's all.
I slowly worked through my required sheets. Employee drop schedule. I read through the Policy and Procedures. I organized what I had to return. Ending was so easy, so completely easy, it felt like the dream you wake up from and wonder if you really did it. It was so lifelike, you murmur to yourself. In the nights ahead as work would haunt my dreams, continually, completely, fully, I would keep saying this to myself. You've quit. Did you really? Or was it really just a dream?
Now only upon The End have I thought about The Beginning, and those bookends sandwich a highlight reel so magnificent I can't even begin to write it into words. I thought of each and every time a schedule was published and I would sleep restlessly the night before, and wait with baited breath to see what the blue page might bring me. I remember the places I was afforded to experience, and the situations I was put in. Positive, negative, drunk, sober, injured, ill, assisting, sharing, learning, call it how you may. I thought about all the hospital visits I made, the times the blood was coming from wounds on my own body, the nights that there was no night, only day that ebbed into day. In the bizarre moments, in the tough moments, in the amazing moments, I could only think that maybe, just maybe, one day I might laugh at what was happening.To begin to share these memories I cannot, because I feel it can't possibly be captured in a few sentances- to hell with that, a whole novel- what I feel, the gratitude, the joy the completeness in my heart and spirit when reflecting on what this experience has meant to me.
But of all the curves along the way, it was undoubtably THE PEOPLE who made this the beauty that it was. I think of the events (weddings, funerals, trips, preparations, side trips, weekend getaways, hikes, bikes, meals, early mornings, late nights, parties-oh the parties!) but more importantly I think of what I shared with the people I met. How profoundly I was touched by their stories, their love, their laughter. How many of them challenged me and everything I believe in, they challenged me to not only think, but act, not only to dream, but to believe. I was treated to a commradery, friendships, love, passion and a sense of journey. In short, I was blessed.
I was told I would be placed on inactive reserve, I could lead later in the future if I chose, that I left on my own accord and in good standing. One last trip to wrap up the present with a bow, this career with a complete end. A period at the end of a sentence. Or maybe just a semicolon for what comes next.
Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end. SEMISONIC