Moving Into the Unknown

“The Big Chill” was my anthem in my early twenties. The movie about the coming of age of a bunch of college graduates struck a nerve in my own navigation of becoming a woman and a wife. I watched it over and over again. Friends watched it with me, and we sighed with understanding of the journey we were taking and its inevitable losses and gains. The writers saw me, moved me and showed me the way. I relished every second of its embrace.

It’s been almost 6 months since I left my job. I’ve spent some time traveling, been obsessed with a transformative election and fretted about my future. There is movement in this transition much like the movement afoot during my early twenties. I am navigating a new phase of my life, a possible reinvention of my career while at the same time grieving the losses of my life before. Excitement quickly morphs into fear. Loss is overshadowed by hope. Youth is transformed by the marching of time. And, this time, the culture is moving with me. There is so much changing right now, and I suspect much more change is ahead of us.

Sam Cook’s A Change is Gonna Come Official Lyric Video

“The West Wing” has been my salve and solace. A friend of mine nailed me on my obsession with “The West Wing.” “Josh Lyman is your kind of guy,” she said. His combination of sarcasm, wit, energy and intelligence has me wishing for my own Josh live-in. But there’s much more to my obsession with this show than my romantic female fantasies. The show epitomizes the destabilizing movement of time. The actors age and evolve. The issues of more than a decade ago still play out in the news. Time goes very quickly but change is very slow.

I’m on my second watch of the series, and I’m fast-forwarding because of its removal from Netflix on December 24. I’m also listening to “The West Wing Weekly“, a superb rehash of every episode complete with interviews and guest appearances of the actors, writers and producers on the show as well as political experts of the topics in question. I am seeped in this world, and it is seeping into me. I dream about it at night and wake up listening to the podcast each morning.

Last night I watched “A Change is Gonna Come”. It’s the second time I’ve seen it, but I’m in a different place now. I don’t even remember it from the first time, but I was so transfixed this time that I woke up this morning wanting to watch it again. Six months into this journey, I’m ready for a change. With a vaccine available, our world is ready for a change. With so many uncomfortable truths unearthed during this pandemic, our country is ready for a change. We are on a precipice.

James Taylor’s Rendition of A Change is Gonna Come

This episode features James Taylor singing a rendition of Sam Cook’s song of the same name. It comes at a time when the President is starting to experience some troubling physical changes, the next election is coming up which will bring enormous change, and changes are happening for all of my beloved characters. We know that the world as they know it will no longer exist. The moving lyrics of this lovely ballad dubbed over the faces of my beloved cast of characters moved me. And the movement toward the unknown felt very familiar.

This morning I have an appointment with a recruiter about a nonprofit job. Immediately following I have a meeting with my coach. By noon I may have an inkling about my immediate future, or I may be back in the dark. Either way I will continue to stare into the unknown. There will be no answers today. My only hope is to become comfortable with not knowing, to embrace the void. Oddly enough, when I watch “The Big Chill” now it seems completely stupid. I can’t imagine ever relating to those characters or that plot. Anthems are forged at the intersection of life and feeling. We are in a collective moment of change. We don’t know what life will look like six months from now. But we can all be sure that “a change is gonna come”. I hope it sounds as beautiful as this.

5 Comments on “Moving Into the Unknown

  1. Sharon, you are so good at thoughtfully embracing change, applying discernment to every decision. I hope that your meetings go well today.

    Mary Helen is coming home from the rehab hospital today so it’s a big day for us. The preparation has eclipsed Christmas by a long shot as we have had to line up caregivers, get her house prepped with the right arrangement of things and also the right equipment. We have all taken training from the therapists at rehab hospital in how to take care of her ourselves. Friends are lining up to bring meals. It’s been exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. Another chapter and a chance to prepare for an unknown future.

    • Thank you, Sallie. Yes, you are definitely on an unknown adventure. I wish you all well today and through the foreseeable future.

  2. Another great post. I retired from client work in September, and it was a huge change. I always self-identified by what I did for work. What was I now, if I didn’t have a great job or an impressive title. I was depressed and more than a little terrified. What do I do now? I felt the same way when I got laid off (or restructuring as they called it) after working for the same company for 13 years. It’s where I met my husband, it’s where all my friendships developed, and then poof…it was all gone. I had a great severance package, and people were saying I should take six months off and just enjoy myself. I looked at them like they had two heads sharing one brain. Getting laid off was traumatic and felt like a death. I immediately started looking for a new job in the paper (who gets a job from a want ad?). I got an interview with a non-profit to run communications for a few rural electric cooperatives. The guy wanted to hire me on the spot, but when he told me the salary my face fell. I was willing to take a price cut, but not work for less than a quarter of what I was making.

    Then a friend of mine called and said a friend of his was looking for a marketing manager. I met with him, and though the salary wasn’t great, I knew it would be a good fit.

    If I could do it all over again, I would have spent more time enjoying this break and to not lose sleep over it. I also know I’m not wired that way, no matter how much I tried.

    Retirement has been a blessing and taken much of the stress I carried around on my last job. I don’t real self-identify as anything right now. I’m letting the stars settle and show me the way.

    You are so much stronger than I was, Sharon. Take your time and find the right fit. It’ll be worth it!

    May 2021 be the change we are crying for. We all need it.


    • I wanted to wait until I could sit at my computer to respond to you. You are truly my hero! I love this story. I’m seeing so many synchronicities that are encouraging me to sit and be still for awhile. I’m in an interview process for a non-profit that sounds interesting, and I have one little angel on my shoulder encouraging me to look at houses in that city and rushing through the process. But a better angel is sitting on my other shoulder saying “one step at a time.” It may indeed be a good opportunity but it’s not time for me to decide that now. It’s like deciding I should marry a guy because I know he’s single and has a job. It’s something, but there is so much more to know before I know if it’s right or not. Thank you for commenting!

      • You are on the right path to finding your next opportunity. What is it that you value most in a job? How does the company support the community? Are they excited about what you can bring to the party? If you could have any job in the world, and not worry about the salary, what would it be? Would you take less money to have great benefits? Are you ready in interview them? I came up with a lot of questions when I was looking…not just salary and benefits. These are areas I spent a lot of time thinking about, and I decided that my next job needed to give me a purpose. That’s why I went into energy efficiency. It was a great fit for my experience working for an electric utility. This job, which was a salary cut (a cut we could live with), took me to new opportunities that I never imagined. More responsibility, more money (which is nice), and becoming a spokesperson for the efficiency community. Take your time and keep baking!

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