Ten years ago today I left my work in computer software to step onto the path that brought me into coaching, and teaching, and more recently into writing.
Many people told me at the time how brave I was, to step so fully into the unknown. But none of it felt at all like bravery to me. I was afraid, confused and mostly very lost, stepping away from a familiar world into one with no shape, no certainty, and little sense of direction. What it did feel like was necessity. Though I had few words for it at the time, I had caught on to the way that my life, and the gifts I had to bring, were being strangled and ossified by the working life I was in the midst of living.
During the foggy period of undoing that led to that moment it was my wife who brought me the gift for which I am most grateful. One afternoon, as I was sitting in my attic office, wrestling with my lethargy and disappointment, and trying to complete a software project that was long overdue, she walked in with a cup of tea and said “Do you have any idea how unhappy you are?”. And all my defences, all my well-honed ways of looking ok to everyone, all of my fighting against myself unravelled. Her gift? The courage to see beyond the facade of personality and habit, and to speak to the part of me that was in the most pain and most longing to take wing. And once I was prepared to take that part seriously, to take care of it, nothing could be the same again.
Ten years on, and in the midst of a life which calls on that once hidden part ever more deeply, the sense of being lost and of being on a path that leads who-knows-where has not lifted much. But I’m often able to understand it in a new way. To see that allowing myself to respond to life, in all of its messy unknowability, rather than fighting it, opens up huge vistas for contribution and connection. And to see that one of the greatest gifts of all can be to find people with enough love, and enough fierceness, to name the possibilities in my one and only life that I am so brilliant at hiding from myself.