That was before I went for my usual walk with the 110lb dog. Before I left home this morning I looked out of the window, and the pre-dawn sky looked distinctly unpromising. I grunted and grumbled a little - which is very unlike me (that's sarcasm, by the way) - and decided against taking my old but beloved camera out with me. It just wasn't worth taking it along, I thought - there would be nothing to photograph on a day like today, I thought.
Of course, I should have taken into account that I have only lived through fifty autumns, and so I cannot possibly be expected to have any appreciation of how weather and light conditions can change in a very short time. Neither does the fact that I have lived in almost the same location for the last thirteen and a half years give me any reason to suppose that I could make an educated guess about how the day might develop. That's more sarcasm, in case you were teetering on a knife edge about it.
The photograph above is one of a short series that I took with my phone camera as a breathtaking view unfolded in truly wondrous light conditions - none of which I was able to adequately capture, of course - what with the bloody camera being at home! I was, however, able to stop and, while the 110lb dog watched me with his customary confused/surprised expression, just stare at my surroundings. The world looked simply stunning, and as a matter of fact it sounded pretty good too - a calm silence was all around me until it was gently broken by the distant sound of calling geese. Then, more of them, and as I looked up I could see literally thousands of birds far above me, all streaming East towards the sunrise in their familiar phalanxes. The world was going about its business.
If I was successful and took the new job, I wouldn't be able to see or hear these things - that's what struck me in those moments. My current position was chosen deliberately for its simplicity and for the fact that, unlike previous roles, I would be able to come home every day and forget about my job. No Blackberry: no phone calls from different time zones and no stupid questions from people who have messed up, should have known better, and want to be helped to dig themselves out of the mess that they have created. I gave all that up three years ago, and I am a much happier person for having done so.
Now, I have the time to look around me, and I find myself surrounded not by fellow grim-faced aeroplane passengers, not by cars stopping and starting in traffic congestion, and not by uber-competitive peers trying to one-up one another with smart remarks and kissing the boss on the derriere. Now I can pause when I wish, leave my work AT work, be with my loved ones so much more than before, and enjoy my life as it continues along it's increasingly don't-give-a-shit path towards semi-retirement in the location that we have already identified.
I even have time to watch myself changing in this regard, and noticing how I feel less pressure to be running all the time. Part of that release comes from the children becoming adults and needing me to be that kind of 'dad' less and less, and part of it comes from the realization - with the help and support of my lovely lady - that these years only belong to one person: myself. I'm watching myself, and I'm beginning to like what I see just a little bit more than I have before. I'm starting to make myself smile. Not even trying to get that job has made me smile even more.