Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Treasuring the simple things

“I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.”
John O'Donohue

Over the past couple of weeks, I have taken to making midweek arrangements to meet up with two of my former colleagues who left work on the same day as me at the end of September.

It gives a focus to our days, to meet up in Salthill once a week, enjoying a walk along our city’s wonderful seafront promenade, before adjourning for a leisurely lunch to swap information and share our experiences of joining the ranks of the newly unemployed.

The one hour walks along by the seafront have flown by, because we have so much to tell each other about how our lives are progressing since we opted for voluntary redundancy.

As one who has complained bitterly about Irish winter weather for way too long, I have been delighted by how much I have enjoyed our weekly walks in the cold and the chance to share our fears and hopes for the future.

Today, Galway Bay was flat calm. There was a serenity and peace about Salthill, which made me appreciate how lucky we were to have our health and to have such stunning scenery as a backdrop to our conversation.

Sometimes, it really is a good thing to focus on the simple things in life.

Both of my former colleagues, both younger than me, have inspired me with their positivity and desire for change.

Whereas I have faced the future with a degree of anxiety and dread, both of them have embraced change with an enthusiasm which has lifted my spirits during our weekly meetings. One of them has opted to return to college, while the other is in the early stages of setting up a new business of her own.

All three of us have helped each other, in terms of how we have dealt with bureaucracy or new clients now that we are out there in the big, bad world.

When you are in the same job for a long time, you don’t realise what is involved in seeking new clients or pitching for work. You learn that people can make promises and then let you down. 

And small companies tend to give very little support to departing workers even though a redundancy can become one of the most stressful events in a person’s life.

Both of my former colleagues have given me enormous support, and excellent advice, and I hope I have been able to reciprocate in my own way. We are learning from each other and, surely, that’s what life is about . . . learning, growth, and change.

Both of them have embraced change with open arms, causing me to question why I am so fearful of an uncertain future after leaving my job of 22 years. 

The weekly walks along the prom have taught me the value of celebrating the simple things in life, such as beautiful scenery, the benefits of a brisk walk, and the joy of good conversation over a cup of coffee.

Normally, after a hard year’s work, I would be soaking up the sun and scuba diving in Thailand, Egypt, or Nicaragua – on holidays – at this time of year. 

It probably still hasn’t sunk in yet that I can go wherever I want or opt for any one of a myriad of options as I face into an uncertain 2015. 

But, thanks to my colleagues, I am seeing new possibilities open up and I’m beginning to realise that I have confused excitement with fear.

Life changes every day, but too many of us grasp for the familiar and even hurt ourselves by resisting change. For me, this process of moving on or changing career might allow me to follow my dreams or passions in the long-term.

Each of us has a magic spark within us, but sometimes it seems hard to dance, or play, or live life to the full. It can seem impossible to turn our dreams or passions into rewarding lives or well-paid careers.

Too often, and for obvious reasons such as mortgages and young families, we settle for the familiarity of the 'comfort zone'.

But my two former colleagues are well on the way to finding the magic and today I found just a pinch of fresh inspiration as we talked along the familiar promenade I have walked 10,000 times. 

Even though I still have a way to go before I learn to live "like a river flows"!

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