As I am looking out over a gorgeous, bleeding sunset while flying from Seattle to San Francisco, I am still reeling a bit from the week’s latest developments. The serenity and the stillness of being so high up in the sky is almost heavenly, and in sharp contrast with the general busy-ness of the last few days. The view from the plane, the thick cotton-ball clouds and the purity of the outside atmosphere reminded me of a Netflix documentary I watched this week in my sweltering hot apartment—it dealt with a bunch of Californians who walked the John Muir Trail and while I have been to Yosemite and have Ansel Adams on my retina, albeit in black and white, the beauty of this unique landscape of the West made me almost envious of these Californians who were backpacking their way through, blisters popping on their feet. My past three weeks have been boxed in by a cubicle and although I am a hard worker and don’t mind working, I have felt particularly confined. Jon’s and my last three years of work have been hectic and while we have made good money, I think it has been wearing us down as well.
There have been nights this summer, when we have been lying on the loungers in our garden (which, during the day are mostly occupied by the dogs), looking up at the stars and moon, wondering whether retirement is as many lightyears away as the nearest star. With the digitization and computerization of our world, we should be working less rather than more, but the digital economy has added another layer of the economy in which fortunes are made and lost. The pace is fast, and if you don’t get on the wagon, you might lose out, so on the wagon you jump.
While it looked like I was going to stay put in Seattle for a little while which would give me the opportunity to see Jon and Caroline on the weekends, that little ray of light was soon dimmed when it became clear that Ireland was calling, or rather the decision was made that my place was in Cork, not Seattle. Lyfting to the airport I started a nice conversation with the driver who works for Microsoft and lyfts to lighten his long commute, i.e. rather than driving by himself, he picks up people to and from work and I thought that was cool and a different spin on another internet company and app that is putting taxicabs out of business. His dream, he said, was to move to San Francisco and work for a start-up. Oi.
When he asked me about my story and heard that I was moving away from the city he’s trying so hard to get into, he seemed to suggest I had it all backward. Mind you, I have no regrets about making this career move or moving to Ireland but I think the reality has been a bit more exhausting than I anticipated. I have been traveling every week since the beginning of the month and while I have a week’s reprieve at home to get ready for the Irish adventure, these comings and goings, arriving and leaving home, have dragged out the long goodbye which makes it harder, believe it or not, to say goodbye. It reminds me of the bandaid that needs to come off. The slower you pull, the longer you extend the pain of skin being pulled.
Also, knowing now what the job entails and the place I am moving to, the magic of this new, new thing is rubbing off and the reality of expectations with a tremendous workload lies ahead. There have been other developments which I will not divulge. Leaves me to say that being conscientious and doing your work 100% is well near impossible if you want to meet deadlines and reach the customer the fastest way possible.
Interestingly, the Lyfter mentioned life-work balance 3 times. I had to chuckle. I have no life in Ireland yet, so working hard and working nights won’t be a problem, but the life-work balance has been a precarious one in our family, and a recurring topic. Sometimes I think strangers bring us subliminal messages and we need to listen and maybe even learn. But I am not there, yet.
Getting out of the cab, I did as the Romans do (suppressing my Dutch risk-adverseness) and told him to go for it, move to San Francisco, join that start-up, even though he had mentioned to me that he was afraid of the risk this would involve. “You’re young—you have to do these things when you’re young—live dangerously, seize the day, embrace the opportunity while you have it.” He beamed back at me, heartened by my boldness.
As I walked into the terminal, I reminded myself that in a week’s time, I will walk into another terminal to live dangerously, seize the day, and embrace opportunity while I have it. Standing in line for security, I smirked. Who was I kidding? It’s not like I am young, fifty in fact, next year, but it feels like this kind of opportunity came late and that shouldn’t stop me. Sitting in on a recruitment training at Amazon on how the company hires talent, I realized how hard it is to get hired by them. And for that alone, I should commit, as you’re only 50 once.
Boy, if this doesn’t sound like midlife crisis, I don’t know what does…time to sign off!