I had told a few selected people at work of our plans but had kept it to a minimum as I wasn’t ready to hand in my notice. It was very difficult to not reveal the plot to some of my closer colleagues and I felt almost deceitful by withholding such momentous news from them. I think it may be due to the nature of our work but we do tend to share our dilemmas and problems. This may be because I work with such a lovely group of people or it could be because there are inherent difficulties, in a terminal care environment, in dealing with the complex and vast emotional problems of our patients and their nearest if we are carrying a suitcase full of our own baggage; at other times it can be a blessed diversion to be able focus on someone else’s problems.
When someone tells me something they do not wish to be passed on I am flattered but also concerned. I feel privileged that they trust me enough to disclose the information without fear of repetition and value my knowledge of the material. However, I do worry that I may forget that it was told to me in confidence and may blurt out at an inappropriate moment or within earshot of the wrong person. It feels a huge responsibility to hold someone’s secrets and can even become a burden. I did not want to impose that on any of my close colleagues who may be in direct contact, both professionally and socially, with those whom I was not ready to enlighten.
After some deliberation I decided to inform my line manager of my departure in advance of my notice in order to provide adequate time for my replacement to be considered. Nevertheless I did want to tell certain colleagues personally so have been trying to manufacture occasions to speak to various individuals in private. That is the easy part, I struggled with how to actually make the pronouncement initially. ‘I’m leaving’ seemed too abrupt and sensationalist but latterly became my opening gambit as it was much clearer than the garbled words and sentences I was trying to construct. I didn’t want my elation and excitement to override the sadness I felt that was leaving them as well as the job consequently I became verbally clumsy.
Universally, everyone is pleased, some more than others. It is interesting to see the reactions, usually good-natured jealousy and envy about what we are going to do and the change of lifestyle but also genuine pleasure and delight that we are ‘living the dream’ as was mentioned several times. When asked if this had been a dream for a long time I was able to sincerely say that it wasn’t; it had been a process of elimination to arrive at this from our starting point of wanting to change. Unfortunately most of my colleagues just envied my escape from an employment they would also like to vacate, though not their profession. Some of my friends are confined by their circumstances, young children, dependent relatives, large mortgages, etc. but others don’t have any restrictions beyond their own self-imposed boundaries. I wonder if there will be a domino effect if those people with no real limitations take a thorough look at their lives and realise that, although they aren’t getting any younger, they are not too old to have a complete change of lifestyle, but not for too much longer as we are mostly of a similar age.
Time seems to pass so quickly, exponentially so, the older we get. Summer holidays from school seemed to extend into weeks of unfettered play, particularly if you were fortunate enough to live near the coast as we did. The weeks seemed to last for so much longer than the whole summer season does now and obviously the weather was better! It feels now that a whole year can pass quicker than those holidays used to. Is it purely proportional and mathematical in relation to our total years lived? Is it because these days we are currently living are so much more routine, merging seamlessly from one to another when we are older? Is it because as a child, everything is new and exciting therefore the amount of cerebral input we experienced in a day was so much more than we can or do absorb in a month as a jaded adult?
If that is the case this is definitely an indication to re-ignite that stimulation, to re-activate the sluggish brain cells. Being able to do one’s job with one hand tied behind your back – metaphorically of course – is a gauge on how much we need to revitalise our lives, even if it is merely taking up a new hobby or pursuit. In our case, undertaking our C&G Food Hygiene certificate, attending and passing the cookery course and embarking on the TEFL studies have already started that process. Now we are off to have a second career in the hospitality business – I didn’t see that coming.
If our departure does nothing more than stimulate people to re-evaluate their lives then I’ll be pleased. Since we started talking about our plans to people outside work 3 friends’ husbands have taken early retirement. One of my friends blames us totally for her husband’s decision, I’m unsure about the other two. Remaining life is short when you hit your half century, you can be reasonably sure that you are over half way through your allotted lifespan with the potential for the latter years and even decade(s) to be the most restrictive so we must grab opportunities when they are available. There will always be reasons to not do something, fear of change or the unknown being foremost, but you’re a long time dead; you only live once; one life, live it and all those other cliché which are actually true.
My motto, before Nike unwittingly purloined it, was ‘just do it’. I have applied this to everything from life changes to job applications, from volunteering myself, against my better judgement, even to housework! Hindsight has occasionally revealed a poorly thought through decision in a few instances but more often not. I have not regretted many of my choices even if I have had to look hard for the silver linings at times, they are always there. As we will never be able to know what would have happened if we either took a different route or abstained from a course of action, we cannot determine that we made the wrong choice as the alternative could have been worse but we’ll never know.