“You say you want to write – so write.” My inner voice, approximately 5 am, June 24, 2013
I dreamed that morning that I was stung by a scorpion while leaving the loading docks of my former employer. And that sucker held on! One of the people with me – an old friend and colleague – finally killed it with an electric current, leaving the stinger behind. We were debating whether we’d fully removed it when I began feeling the poison coursing through my veins. By the time we got to the company cafeteria, I was feeling better. I awoke to the words above.
I took an early retirement package from my employer 5-1/2 years ago, but for the past 4, I’ve continued working for them on a contract basis. It’s been a great gig: I earned enough money to minimize withdrawals from my retirement account and I got to continue doing work I loved on a more leisurely basis.
Those days were up July 1. The company decided to hire a local agency to consolidate the work I and others do for them as well as new work coming down the pike. I completely understand: this is a business decision, just as the ones over the past decade that resulted in so many of us 50-somethings accepting generous early buy-outs. “Don’t take it personally,” one of my favorite Zen teachers says.
But…I’m feeling an echo of the grief I felt in leaving a familiar “home” five years ago, only this time I know it’s really over. And just as with a romantic relationship you struggle to give up, even though you know it’s time to move on, I have a lot of different feelings churning under the surface.
There’s some grief, shown in a resurgence of the loss-filled dreams that began when I rejoined my employer after quitting to move to California in my early 20’s. Six months after that move, tail between my legs, I came home to both my parents’ house and my employer. I’ll remain grateful to the end of my days that both took me back. Awakening from those dreams in the years after I came home, I’d be flooded with relief: it was only a bad dream.
Now it’s not: what I feared for all those years has come about. And yet, my inner voice says, it’s not a bad dream – it’s an opportunity to explore new work and try out new roles. It’s a chance to become my own distinctive voice rather than a corporate mouthpiece. It’s about welcoming the change rather than running from it.
I like that interpretation better than the old one.