Not All Who Wander Are Lost

J.R.R. Tolkien is the source of the title of this blog post. The past two and 1/3 years have been a period of transition, of finding new aspects of my self. These years were a time of learning, of networking, meeting new people and making new friends. This time was often marked by feelings of grief, of feeling a loss of self, a loss of accomplishment. There were many days when I just couldn’t see what the future could possibly be and could only focus on all that I felt I had lost.

But this transition time was also an opportunity for connecting to my family and being a presence to my family in a way that had never happened before. Being home for Ellie’s last year of high school, for Peter’s return home from Chamberlain, for Jim’s own journey through his Masters program was important and satisfying. My own life seemed to be drifting, but theirs weren’t and I was there to help, to support and to simply be a presence. Cooking dinner each day an sharing that evening meal was a new and often welcome time to bond and be a family. I was quite fond of that part of my daily schedule.

As time went by, I became more used to being home during the day. I had a routine to follow. Up early at 5:30 to exercise, read the paper, eat some breakfast and then check email, shower and head to my office by 8:30. It wasn’t my former routine of heading to the city, but it was a comforting routine nonetheless.

While sometimes I couldn’t quite see what to do next, I was never without activity. I would read about both publishing and later nonprofits when my interests turned in that direction. I had tweeting to do and, of course, job boards to check. I had clients to work for and then projects around the house to further. Since we didn’t know if we would be staying in our house, I did lots of purging and streamlining of over ten years’ accumulation. I kept a daily log of all my outreach and contacts which gave me the satisfaction of seeing what I had accomplished and a roadmap.

Having worked in an industry which was undergoing tremendous change and upheaval and having been lucky enough to have been pretty successful in that industry, a big part of my “wandering” involved trying to understand what my next steps should be. I worked hard trying to re-imagine myself. I tried many paths to finding that next stage. Often it felt like I was heading down a path only to find that it failed to lead anywhere or perhaps it led somewhere, but the destination wasn’t what I needed.

Early in the process I spent a week with my former author, Dick Bolles. He described the transtion phase as being in a blue light. It was a time of limbo, a passage which was undefined in form and duration but through which one must travel. It was an apt characterization in many ways.

The end to this period came out of the blue and, as so many had predicted, from one of many contacts which came to fruition many months later. My wandering was done and the feelings of frustration, of worry about the future, of feeling of no value, came to a quick end as joy and excitement over a tremendous new opportunity took over.

Suddenly I was getting ready for my first day of work. Jim was there to memorialize the process. Putting on work clothes had a whole different feeling when I was doing it to head to a job rather than another meeting or interview. I anticipated that first day with great excitement and happiness. I wasn’t really nervous, but incredibly thankful.

 Two weeks into my new professional life, I remain as excited, grateful and happy as ever. I get up to go to work with eagerness. My new colleagues are all extremely nice and have been most welcoming. I adore being part of the organization and relish the prospect of making a contribution. With Jim substitute teaching, mornings are busy as we both prepare to head off to work.

I may have wandered, but I am no longer lost. As time goes by, I know the journey will take on a different meaning and I hope that it will come to represent a time of discovery, not loss, of re-definition, not loss of self-definition. A kind of re-boot which will have given me a new orientation and a refinement of my values.

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2 Comments to “Not All Who Wander Are Lost”

  1. One could have gone on in limitless detail, but you have succinctly captured the essence of this transition from loss to rebirth. Your excitement is matched only, perhaps, by that of those around you, both at home and in your new professional circle. May you carpe each diem.

  2. Well put and deeply encouraging. Thank you.

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