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Leaving is not deserting.
It's about the thread we follow.
Most of us spend the first part of our work lives trying to stand out whilst fitting in, to be noticed just enough inside the same enclosure.
Inevitably though, that takes us gradually down the road to being part of the group others try to fit into to be noticed just enough.
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect).”
In a society that values more, I think that’s a dangerous place to be. At some point, we have enough but stay on the treadmill to get more than enough until we forget what enough is.
When our world becomes about more, we enter the world of the Wetiko, the mythical beast whose appetite grows in direct proportion to what is consumes and stays eternally hungry. It is the society that financialization gives us.
If we’re lucky, with friends and family who care for us and a healthy relationship with material possessions, we recognise a time to move on. Not many years ago, there would have been rites of passage, at work and in the community, that kept the beat of these changes, reminded us that we were coming to an inflexion point in our lives, and needed different, not more.
We are not being cast out, we’re being sent out to bring something back. The stuff of James Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” or, in one of my favourite quotes from Terry Pratchett:
“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
―Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky
We face an uncomfortable truth. If we think we’re in mid-career, we’re not. In a world that worships performance and metrics, there is somebody just leaving university, or increasingly a technological innovation, that will be more productive in those terms than we are before we know it and before we’re ready.
To live a life, we have to move on to where they cannot yet go, in order to guide them when, sooner than they think, they find themselves where we are now.
And, of course, the cycle repeats itself - ever faster, it seems.
Wherever we go next, the same will apply.
The Way it is.
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.