Thursday, October 25, 2012

What Matters Most - Part 1

The assignment:  Pick five minutes in your life  any five minutes of importance and write about them.  Most in the class wrote about a proposal, a birth, a death. Not me.
I had been out of work for ten months.  There was a great deal of pressure to get a job at this particular institution as without one I would lose what I had been working toward for over ten years  tax-free college tuition grants for our twins who were about to start their college lives at private liberal arts institutions up north.  I had two months left to be rehired or lose it all  the clock was ticking.

The past ten months had been a time of worry and sheer emotional paralysis. It wasn't so much the day-to-day finances — we’d actually been managing fine. Even after the unemployment ran out I’d managed to get a short-term work assignment that kept the checks coming and I’d always been extremely thrifty.  Then, just as the assignment ran out I landed a job!  Thank you God.  True, it was four levels below my previous job and a 20% cut in pay but it would guarantee that over four years each of the kids would get approximately $100,000 toward tuition.  Even if the job was vacuuming offices at night (it wasn't), I’d do it.

Still I had my trepidations.  I’d be doing the work that others had done for me for more than a decade. Instead of conceiving and developing programs, I’d be implementing the ideas of others.  Instead of focusing on my area of expertise, K-12 education, I’d be multi-tasking for a small group of faculty immersed in theoretical academia.

Ridiculously enough, the thing that seemed to bother me most was going to be the space — my physical space at the new place.  In my former position I’d had a really nice large office where every last thing had been hand-selected by me — the carpeting, furniture, artwork, even the lighting — all were my taste and my choices.   Even better, the space had two huge side-by-side windows (each measuring 66” h x 36”w) looking out over trees and shrubs and lawns with chirping birds flying by to rest on the windowsills.   I was going to miss my office, those windows and the view.

After ten months unemployed and two months away from losing that tuition benefit for my kids, I was so anxious for a job, I’d never asked to see where I’d be working.  Now that the day was approaching I was dreading what I thought would be my office for the next few years.  I’d remembered seeing this workplace years and years ago.  It was a large room subdivided into lots of little cubicles with those half-partition walls covered in synthetic gray fabric where you could pushpin up your work.  I was steeling myself — for the loss of privacy and for the fact that those “walls” weren't going to hold my kind of artwork.

When they showed me in, it was a small office with a glass-inset door and the same two windows that were in my old office, facing the same direction, with the same view, except now I was on the second floor instead of the first and that meant these windows had the addition of a six-foot wide Palladian window crowning the view and filling the space with light. I could see I was going to like this space.


  1. Funny how some things turn out so much better than expected.

    1. some times they do when I met you.

  2. What a blessing it was for me that you took that job!!
    Much love--

    1. Well, I think it was lucky YOU came along in that time for me as well! Thanks KW