Friday, April 23, 2010

Beginnings, middles, and ends

It's spring, and change is in the air.

At work, colleagues are announcing departures and retirement. There will be cakes and the obligatory speechlets and talk about hiring replacements or not and people moving to new offices and jockeying to score coveted office furniture and to ditch disfavored assignments. And in the fall, we'll regroup and cowboy up for another go-round. In the fall, I'll give some thought to whether I'm prepared for another go-round, and while I'm still thinking about it I'll notice that I've started going around again. That's the way it works, because when I leave this job, it will almost certainly not be because I'm retiring or moving to another job.

Carmen's graduating from nursing school in a few weeks. She's done really well, and I'm so proud of her. The job market's not great right now, but I'm guessing she'll find work right away--it just might not be exactly what she wants to do, or where she wants to do it. In any event, it might at last be fiscally possible for me to reduce my work hours.

Change gets a lot of attention. Beginnings and ends register in a way that middles can't; that's just how we're wired, at least initially. But I'm trying really hard to cultivate my awareness of, and appreciation for, the middles. Meditation is a great tool for that. So is a canoe.

In the spring, I try to make it out to a certain creek when the water is high to float downstream through the damp woods. The first time I paddled it, I was maybe 11 or 12, and my dad and I fished for trout with the grasshoppers we collected from a field by our house. These days I need to be accompanied by others strong enough to get the boat to and from the water, but it's still a magical ride.

Right up until the point where we tip over the canoe.