I sometimes work from home. I like it, because I can be in my PJs, with my favorite fuzzy child near my side, looking out at the woods in front of our house. I also like it because it’s quiet. Peaceful. No phones ringing, since we don’t have a home phone, and no one to bother me. It’s nice. It reminds me a bit of the good old days when I worked in the basement of a building, far from the rest of the staff. No, there were no trees there and certainly no view, but the peace and serenity that allowed me to do my job was wonderful.
I sat down to work this afternoon, late, after having a full day of chores and other unpleasantries. Our washer died. I think it actually killed itself, just to get out of doing more work. The whole back part literally broke into three pieces. It was not my favorite appliance, anyway, as it had never really been the best washer in the universe. Since our dryer was purchased at the same time, we just bit the bullet and bought a new set. $1873 worth. Did I mention I just started a new job with a huge pay cut? So, now I have yet one more thing to worry about, as if I didn’t have enough already!
Anyway, I was sitting down, and I decided to go through the brown inbox on the top of my desk. More than anything, I wanted to see what bills I might have, what tax statements we have yet to receive, and what else I had to put into our checkbook register to make sure we had everything accounted for. The tax stuff is annoying. It’s funny how I can get everything else before January 31, but one particular place (my husband’s employer!) waits until the last possible moment to send out their W-2s, I think just to make people wait longer to either get their refunds or figure out how much they need to win in the lottery to pay their taxes for the year. We are usually among the latter group.
In the box, I found a note I wrote to myself in some boring meeting I was sitting through at my old job. My mind was still on the fence about whether to leave the stability and gravy train salary and benefits to jump headlong into this new endeavor, or if I wanted to stay the course and be insanely miserable by the time I retired in 20-25 years. I let my mind wonder that day, writing down whatever came first. Rolling thoughts they were. This is what the note said:
Where? If not there? When? If not now? How, if not this way? Why? You know why or you would not be asking the other questions.
I had vascillated over the decision for a week or two at that point, wondering if I was making a great move or a mistake. Wondering if I could, at my advanced age, jettison into a new career, full of scary people in black robes and people who were my age who had been doing this for 15 years or so prior to my first day in court. I guess the last question really hit home, as that’s where the note ended. “Why?” was the biggest question of all. I knew why. I was miserable. I loathed going to work every day and hearing about things that were so inconsequential. Laminate colors do not make the world go round, even though there are some who believe they honestly do. Just because you didn’t get the green office chair, your life won’t end, trust me! Even if I leave one minute early from a meeting, the meeting won’t miss me, really, as whatever the meeting was about probably wasn’t that important, anyway.
Now, looking back, I’m glad I took those weeks for reflection. I only wish I’d taken off some time and not worked at all – just to give myself time to think. Kind of like my 4 days of solitude in Cancun in 2005, my mind sometimes just needs a break to be able to think, alone, without anyone else around. I cherish my alone time. Now, I get it when I drive to work, eat my lunch, drive home, and drive to court or other lawyers’ offices in other areas of the state. It’s amazing. I love it.
As for the scary people in the black robes, they still scare me. Not so much for the ones that I regularly see, but the new ones are frightening, to a certain degree, although I know that they are just people like me trying to do some good.
Now, laminate colors do not haunt me. I could not care less about what kind of office chair someone has. I never think about Ebola, or the flu vaccine, or staff evaluations being done on time. I think about important things – things like whether my clients will lose their child or keep their child. Whether a child will be able to be adopted or stay in foster care. Whether a man will be able to heal after a bitter divorce. Whether a dog owner can have her furchild back safely in her arms. I wonder, and I learn. Every single day.
Since the note, I’ve grown. I’ve learned a lot. I fret that I’m not learning quickly enough. I fret that I’m not good enough to do this job, to be the person I need to be. Then, I remember that one time, I wasn’t good enough to renovate an office, and then one day I built a hospital wing. Time heals a lot. Time allows one to learn a lot. Time is all that matters sometimes. And it’s the most previous thing we have. Use it well.