Meeting new friends is always an experience, especially on a road trip. It’s funny how the Internet has enabled people who would otherwise be perfect strangers to have a level of connection enough to ride in a car for 24 hours together. You get to know people that way, in the compressed timeframe of a road trip.
The trip was long, but highly anticipated. I was to meet some internet heroes of mine, as well as be in a crowd of people where I know no one but who I came with.
I was pretty intimidated, yet I figured out how to get over it with sleep, an array of great questions, and a choice not to listen to fear. Most people I had no more than a passing conversation with; however, a few folks stuck around a little longer, allowing me to forge ever so slightly deeper connections.
Needless to say, when the weekend was over and the 12 hour trip home completed, a paradox of feelings flooded in. Satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Connection and disconnection. Elation and exhaustion. My emotions were pulling me in polar opposite directions, leaving me to fight it or let it be.
It’s not that these polarities are hard, but they’re unexpected. They don’t fit in our black and white boxes we try to shove everything into. Life is supposed to be either happy or sad, not both at the same time, dang it! But that’s just the reality of life.
The paradox of emotions often comes at an inflection point, a departure of sorts, like when you leave friends to go home, and you’re sad to leave friends but happy to rest and have time with family. Often it’s the deep connections we form with others while being in their presence which makes it so tough to leave.
I’m grateful to have had the time with my friends on this trip, and while this year’s adventure is now over, I’ll likely be at the conference next year where we’ll do it all over again.
Choices are an incredible thing. Just the mere fact that we have free will to choose to do
y is incredible. We can choose bad, or we can choose good. Ethical, or corrupt. Good, or great.
At times, these choices aren’t clear; at others, they make obvious sense.
That’s how it’s been with my choice to leave my current “stable” job. Things just lined up for me and my family that the choice was a no-brainer.
I know many people leave jobs because they had a bad boss or heavy workload. I didn’t have either. In fact, my boss intentionally invested in me and my growth in the company. He called out my strengths and gave me assignments to help me grow in those. Indeed, it was a positively impactful relationship.
I’m grateful to this company for showing me that corporate culture can be a positive experience, as I know others haven’t had the same experience elsewhere. I’m not leaving my job because of anything negative; I’m leaving because the season is over, and a new season is arriving.
The arrival of a new season means transition, and transition isn’t always easy. You can see it in the transition from winter to spring and summer to fall.
I used to work at a local home improvement store. One day in early March, I was cleaning up carts in the parking lot. Within an hour, it was hot, cold, rainy, snowy, windy, and sunny. Nearly every form of weather showed itself in that short period of time during the transition from winter to spring.
It was a violent transition, almost as if the earth is grieved the loss of winter, or was simply trying to get itself out of the creaky, isolating cold of winter.
It’s true that not all transitions are that violent, but all transitions are violent in their own ways.
Moving on from my job is extremely bittersweet. I’ve never experienced such rushes of excitement and fear about the future as I have now with me going out on my own just days away. I’m confident I’m leaving my successor with an excellent team, but sad I won’t be there to reap the rewards of my investment directly.
If you’ve ever read the book of Hebrews in the Bible, specifically chapter 11, the focus is on faith. The chapter lists out a bunch of folks throughout Scripture who weren’t able to see the reward of things they were pursuing before they died. It was future generations who saw the fruit and tasted of its goodness. Stated otherwise, you won’t always see the full result of your investment, but someone will.
I recently had my last visit to the headquarters office about 3 hours away from my home, in part to help my replacement transition into the role and hand off further information. One of the team members put together a barbecue at his house, in part to celebrate the transition. I couldn’t help but feel grieved in leaving after having so much fun with this group for the last year and a half or so.
While I know I left a mark on some of them, I’m only starting to discover just how much of a mark they left on me.
I stood to appreciate the silence before I left. 5am. A golden moon hung above the horizon. Even along a busy highway, not a single car could be heard.
Leaving family for yet another long trip on such short notice to drive 750 miles, 12 hours total time, for just a few minutes present, is tough.
My grandfather was a tough-as-nails kind of guy. He was in the military, served as a detective captain on the police force, trained security personnel, hunted, fished, and stuffed prize trophy animals. He didn’t have a problem saying one f-bomb or 1,700 in a conversation with you. Through his life, he’d seen a lot of sh*t. Even in a small town, it was hard to believe the kind of things he had experienced.
My grandpa played a large role in my life growing up. We lived close and were around a lot, so he became a strong second father figure to me. He taught me many lessons, like how to shoot a gun properly and safely, not sit still hunting, ride a tractor, play poker, and that cough drops put hair on your chest.
At the age of 81 after a long battle with cancer, my grandpa passed away. I am grateful to have seen him in June and video called him just a few hours before he passed.
My long trip was to get just a few minutes to grieve with family and see him one last time before he was cremated. It’s interesting how you don’t always realize the full extent a person has impacted your life until they aren’t there anymore. Maybe we go into heavy reflective mode, considering the entirety of life, including our own mortality, where we come to the conclusion that we are the sum of what others have taught us to believe ourselves to be.
I added another 750 miles to my odometer again just a few days later for his memorial service. It was a beautiful display of just how many lives he impacted, where there were easily 150-200 people there, all having known my grandpa from his law enforcement days, hunting, or being in the community. I was grateful to the opportunity to share a bit about my grandpa. While speaking, it was wonderful to see the reactions of people in the room who didn’t know him as “grandpa” relate to the aspects of his life which impacted me.
When a loved one departs, we’re left with a big hole in our lives. Grieving that hole sucks. At the same time, that hole is an impression on us, shaped and formed by that person. The mere fact that we grieve is a sign that we’ve been changed by them in some way. The reactions others gave to my stories showed me that my grandpa left not only a mark on me, but all these people as well.
In addition to many of the spoken, practical lessons my grandfather taught me, he taught me countless unspoken ones, too, like respecting other people, working hard, and, ultimately, carrying the heart of a father and showing that to everyone around me.
While he’s gone now, the very shadow of his life lives on in the impact he left on others, especially his family.
The book of Ecclesiastes has a famous passage:
“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.” - Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NLT
I’ve been experiencing a lot of departures in this season of my life. With each one, there’s a grieving process to go through — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. With it, departure always brings a sense of loss.
Amidst all the departures, there have been many arrivals, too. A new career. Returning home to see my family. Assuming new responsibilities. Realizing the legacy you carry as a result from someone else.
Every arrival results from a departure. Like a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly, though something is lost in the process, the end result is far more beautiful.
I’m learning slowly to embrace these seasons of transition instead of resist them. The process can be scary, hard, and painful, yet the new season is always better than the old. We never lose the old season; rather, it shapes, molds, and changes us into who we are now so that new seasons are even possible.
Often, the arrival of new seasons isn’t clear, but instead are the start of another uncertain journey in front of us where we get to step out of our comfort zone and be transformed yet again.
Uncertainty is where the adventure of life lives. If I have to live by my plans and create a level of manufactured certainty, I will never have adventure in the way I think I was meant. And that would be a drag. I lived life like that for too long, and it isn’t somewhere I’m interested in going back to. Yet that temptation of comfort, of familiar, tries to keep me safe in the port, away from the sea, only merely dreaming of the adventure on the other side of departure.
We often don’t have a choice to depart. It just happens, whether due to necessity, death, or even life. What we do get to choose is what we do on the next journey.
While many seasons have converged and ended all at once in this time of my life, a new season now begins. I fully intend to embrace it, and let it leave an impression on me until the cycle repeats itself to birth yet another adventure anew sometime ahead.