Life is filled with unexpected events, beginnings and ends, doldrums and dog days.
This summer solstice I’m able to celebrate that the doldrums have all but passed. Herceptin is almost concluded which means it’s just over a year since I discovered my body had become a serious biohazard. With luck all should be well now and I will soon return to the drug-free life I’m more familiar and altogether more comfortable with.
The densely populated dog-eat-dog hyper-drive that forms our capital city and the robotic (non)-life that streams relentlessly like human army ants on a perpetual march to who knows where is also behind me, at least for the foreseeable future. For the first time in over twenty years dog days are here and the seeds of exciting new ventures have started to germinate. This summer I’m not commuting, rushing from meeting to meeting or refereeing political sparring matches. This summer I’m spending each day doing the things I want to do.
My Dad and I had lunch together last week. It’s the first time for a very long time that we’ve had the chance to do so. Even when we lived in the same city the clockwork reality of work, work and more work stole the opportunity away from us. We have both been slaves to work for far too long because we come from a family where working hard and doing a good job is the only appropriate approach. We both still believe in doing a good job and my Dad works exceptionally hard, but my decision to take a break is already creating possibilities that wouldn’t otherwise have existed. For me an afternoon spent with my Dad is more precious than any material possession.
Most days I get outside, work on the garden and tend to my flowers and vegetables. There are strawberries, embryonic tomatoes, courgettes and vigorous pea plants filling a space previously clogged with bindweed because in every other summer the scant periods when I wasn’t at work were rapidly consumed by a mountain of domestic activities – cleaning, cooking, ironing… and out of hours work. Now I have time to sit under the cherry trees while adult goldfinches teach scruffy-looking fledglings to take sunflower seeds just a few feet away from me. I have space to truly appreciate life’s wonders and miracles instead of winding my way through bureaucratic, often preposterous scenarios rife with petty politics and bereft of any commitment to achieve shared goals in service of the greater good.
Having time has given me chance to think about what I really want to do, how I’d like to contribute to society and where I want to make a difference. I’m coaching other people which is hugely rewarding; helping others achieve their dreams is one of the best ways I can think to spend my time. I also dreamt that in future I’d work somewhere totally aligned with my beliefs and values, somewhere that makes a positive and lasting difference to people’s lives. I sensed that I would find an environment where people strive to achieve, to continuously develop and grow irrespective of age, background, creed or colour. Now I know that once in a while such dreams come true; blue skies and new horizons beckon.
Before I take up my new job my summer will be filled with travel, friends and family. Houses by the sea and nights so dark that the Milky Way will stretch out before me like a diamond encrusted pool of indigo-black ink. I don’t care if the days are bright or overcast; if its sunny I’ll be walking on harbour walls, stony cliff tops or sandy beaches. If its raining I’ll be watching the waves through rain-spattered windows while drawing, painting or learning about the new technologies I’ll encounter and how my new team can harness them to create a world-class learning environment.
I’m all too aware that there are no promises in this realm, my life may still be shorter than the current average. It’s no big deal. I knew from the age of five that however long my life might be it would never be long enough to experience all the things I’d like to experience, learn all the things I’d like to learn or give all the things I’d like to give. My new job offers the opportunity to give more, to use technology in a way that helps create future generations who are equipped to do great things, to make a positive contribution to society and the international community. For me that’s an amazing prospect – some of life’s unexpected events are changes for the better.
At the moment I’m happy to enjoy my summer days doing whatever I want when I want. I wrote about 2013 being a good year in spite of all the superstition and it looks like my prediction was correct 🙂