Catching My Breath

Catching My Breath

Apologies for falling off the earth, seemingly. I’ve been battling some very minor illnesses which included back to back colds and a stomach bug; all of which left me disenchanted with anything but slouching on the couch – sorry. I am feeling better and trying to build some momentum with my missives once again, starting with today.

I have 5 weeks of work remaining; a surreal thought. I’ve been working……well it feels like forever. While the “jobs” I had as a preteen and a teenager weren’t “real” work per se, it meant being someplace I didn’t want to be doing something I didn’t necessarily enjoy. Carrying golf bags is not terribly hard, but do 36 holes carrying doubles in mid-summer and tell me you wouldn’t have rather been at the beach watching bikinis….. Even the boat – that was 40 hours a week minimum and as much as I loved being on the water, there were many times I’d rather have been with my friends. But then the real work began and it mattered – it was to live, to eat, to afford “stuff” like gas and shoes!! And it’s been that way ever since.

You don’t look at it the same when you’re in the middle of it, much like a race (as you know dear reader, one of my favorite analogies). When you are 4 miles into a 12 mile race, you don’t think about the end, the finish line. You focus on the mile you’re in and maybe, the next mile. You focus on your pace, your footfall, your cadence, your breathing – you focus on carrying on – on maintaining. Much the same with work, you focus on the current month and year – your short-term goals and objectives – you don’t start dreaming about retirement; it make no sense to do so and is pointless; too far away. But as the years pass, and you begin all the strategic moves necessary to ensure you’ll actually be able to retire, when that time comes; then you begin to idly ponder it.

But now? With just 5 weeks left? It is an imponderable weight on my shoulders; a sword of Damocles. You see, I’ve had a good career; really good. I am not some superhero by a long shot, but I have made a difference – I’ve mattered though, to some extent. And now the finish line is in my sight and after 44 years and 4 months, I don’t want to rip and fall on my face at the line with everyone watching. Everyone wants to finish strong – in running you finish with a sprint, you don’t fall down and roll across the line in the mud. Likewise, I want to finish on my feet, running, at the line; no trips, no falls. And facing retirement after all these years of coming to the same place is very distracting. And I can’t afford to be distracted. The pace is frenetic and it takes a but a millisecond for things to go very wrong. I’ve already had a handful of somewhat serious issues in the first three months of this year and I do not want any more.

Yet as I say that, everywhere I walk there is a poster with my mug on it, advertising my retirement party. And I am deep – up to my eyeballs deep – in the various things I need to do to prepare to go. Distractions!! What I so desperately yearn for is for my replacement to be selected and placed into the role so I can transition into purely support and teaching for the last few weeks. And through it all, I am trying to understand how I will say good bye. Exciting? Indubitably!! But like all things in life, there is fear of change, dread of loss, and dis-ease with the uncertainty of the unknown. As Dr. Sydney Freedman of the MASH 4077th loved to say: pull down your pants and slide on the ice!!

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