Driving through Life

This post was inspired by a road trip I took over the weekend. I went out to take a long drive, see some new sites and take some pictures.  I did all that, but life had other plans for me too.

I learned that no matter how well you prepare or how much care you take, sometimes you can’t avoid the deer that leaps onto the road. I couldn’t, even though I was going below the speed limit and scanning the road ahead because I knew it was a possibility. I still didn’t see it coming.

The choice you have is how you deal with the situation although your response will vary with the severity of the impact. I was lucky – I lost a headlight and a bit of my fender. I was shaken by the experience. I could have let it ruin my vacation. I did briefly consider heading back to one of the big towns since I was in the middle of nowhere at the time, but if I had I knew I would simply give up and go home. Instead I decided to roll with it. I got out my tool kit, cleaned up the shards of the headlight, used duct tape and a bungee cord to secure the loose ends of the fender, checked to make sure nothing vital had been hit including checking the tires carefully and then I drove on.

It was still a beautiful morning. I still had an exciting trip ahead. I still had a functioning car. I counted my blessings as I continued along the back roads. Of course I thought about it over and over. I analyzed whether there was anything I could have been doing that would have prevented this happening and really there wasn’t unless you count not going on the trip at all. I wondered about the deer – it had disappeared into the tall grasses beyond the ditch at the side of the road and I couldn’t find it. I don’t know if it had a lucky outcome as well, although I doubt it. I wondered why I had cell phone service that didn’t work in the back of beyond. (I wouldn’t get a viable cell phone signal on a compatible network for another 4 hours or so). My mind circled back to these things and others again and again. I acknowledged the thoughts and then moved back to what was before me.

I was driving through an incredible landscape. The road snaked through hilly country, sometimes bare of anything but tough grasses and bits of sage, sometimes dotted with twisted pines and other conifers, sometimes forested. After cresting a tall rise I would sometimes see another ahead or sometimes the landscape would open to show range land, cattle and a lonely house or two. I was pretty much alone on the road which is just how I like it. I’m glad I didn’t turn back or give up. I’m glad I didn’t miss the quiet drive through this region.

The deer on the road and the surprises on the job or life in general are similar. Things happen and no amount of care or preparation can change that. Do you give up and cry? Or do you get out the duct tape, patch up what you can and roll on?

Twilight Times

The waiting is nearly over and the job is nearly ended. It does feel like twilight – the descent into the darkness that is my final day of work.

I feel conflicted. While I am still looking forward to finding my new adventure I am, quite naturally, sad to close this chapter of my life. I’ve been marking lasts – the last time I turn in a monthly report, the last team meeting, the last holiday Monday, the last full week of work. Now I am about to mark my last day.

Yesterday I cleaned out my cubicle and took everything home but my coffee mug.  It may sound silly, but I don’t want to drink my coffee out of a paper cup on my last day.  It tastes better in my Maneki Neko mug and I think I will need the comfort.

The others in my group are displaying a variety of emotions – frustration at having to leave, worry for the future, boredom at not quite having enough to do for the last few days.  The people remaining are sad at losing most of the team or anxious because now all the work will be on them.

We’ve had our last group lunch but it seemed hard to decide what to talk about.  Some want to discuss what is happening but others would rather not.  So we descend into silence like the light leaving the sky.

Night is falling.  The twilight surrounds us.

Next a little darkness.  Then comes the dawn.