Future tense

On the wall of my cubicle are nameplates that once belonged to people I’ve worked with. Names of men who had been sailing along in the normal course of their lives, by which I mean doing pretty much the same job for some years, and whom suddenly took a hard left, veering off on a path they would not retrace.  I’ve closed bars with these men and had barbecues at their home and mine. We’ve attended conferences and criticized our managers. I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane in flight with one of them and learned to read music with another.

But one by one, circumstances called for them to take that radical turn. In ragged succession they left the company we all worked for. When it was certain they were not coming back, through resolute will or corporate intransigence, I cleaned out their desk, collected what they left behind in boxes, and pulled their nameplate off the wall.

Each of them left of their own volition. Each had a compelling reason to go. That in itself is not so unusual, but leaving a full-time job with salary and benefits when you are not in tech nor a twenty- or thirty-something is taking a leap. And leap they did, into a future tense with knowns and unknowns, with some resources they could rely on and all the rest relying on chance. The one thing linking them together other than our workplace was their realization that they had to make a change which included leaving that place. Their outcomes post-decision varied wildly. There are no guarantees such moves will lead to improved situations, even when one feels that such a decision is the best thing to do.

The heart of the artist would embrace such changes. The heart of the pragmatist shuns them. In between lies the adventurer, charting a course through unknown territory using his skills and tools to navigate to another shore.

And yet, when is one an adventurer longing to find spark in life, or just a Balthasarian pawn trying to escape it?

The pool at Filoli Gardens.

The pool at Filoli Gardens.

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