Not surprisingly, I have been thinking a lot lately about the future.
I gave about six weeks’ notice to my boss that I was leaving the credit union to join the Foreign Service. My boss had asked that I keep him informed of my status, because he wanted to try to find someone to replace me as soon as possible. So for over a month, I was in this in-between status of being a part of the team, and yet having an expiration date at the same time.
In team meetings, we would make plans for the future. Several times, we would talk about dates after my departure date. I would say to myself: “Wait, we can’t do that. I won’t be here!” Even though intellectually I knew that the enterprise still had to function after I left, it was strange to help make plans for a future that did not include me.
As soon as I gave notice, my focus for the future changed. It was like I was walking with people along a road, and we came to a fork in the road. I went in one direction, and everyone else took another fork. Although we were all moving forward, and we could still see and talk with each other, our paths were diverging, and eventually we would be so far apart that we couldn’t see or talk to each other.
This experience has reinforced my belief that no one is irreplaceable. No matter how important you may be to an organization, when you leave, the organization has to continue without you. Within a short time, the hole that you leave behind will get filled in. It has to. That’s the way life works.
Another transition in my family life has left a hole. Our family dog had to be put to sleep this morning. He was 13 years old, blind, arthritic, and incontinent. The vet told us that being alive isn’t the same thing as living. He wasn’t enjoying life, we could see that he was in constant discomfort, and the vet observed that putting him to sleep was more compassionate than keeping him alive.
This was my first pet, and this was the first time that I had to make this kind of decision. I know intellectually that it was the right thing to do, and that he probably welcomed the relief. It was still hard to watch him go to sleep forever, though.
Change is the only constant. That’s a cliche, but sometimes cliches have the weight of profound philosophical statements.
Change pulls us into the future. Sometimes we are happy participants, sometimes we fight against it. It doesn’t matter whether or not we want change, though, it’s going to happen to us.
Here are some pictures of my dog. His name was Licorice. We will miss his fuzzy face and good nature.