Today was my last day at work. The inkling I felt in my stomach two years ago has reached its first meaningful milestone. Tomorrow I will wake up - without having set an alarm clock - and the future will be wide open. That thought is as exciting as it is terrifying.
At my job, I created and maintained a web site of centralized information, but I took liberties with the homepage and made it somewhat of a verbal canvas. I uploaded my last message before walking out the door and entitled it, Get Busy Livin', Or Get Busy Dyin. You may recognize it from The Shawshank Redemption. If you are unfamiliar with the movie, change that this weekend.
Morgan Freeman's character is also the movie's narrator. At one point he talks about how some birds are not meant to be caged because their feathers are just too bright. How "bright" mine might be is yet to be seen. But there is something nice and cozy about the cage, sometimes called a 'comfort zone.' We naturally gravitate toward them for their security, familiarity, and safety. But if we are not careful, we forget to push their boundaries and lose track of the importance of stretching ourselves. We forget that we are designed to adapt. Risk is a great element of life. It makes us feel alive and brings into very sharp focus the idea that our lease on life is short. Almost too short.
On my way out the door one of my co-workers expressed that he wished he were in my shoes. I appreciated the support and the compliment, but upon further reflection, I wonder if he would feel the same had I explained the trade off involved. I have traded a comfort zone for a mountain of fear, risk, and uncertainty. Instead of a predictable daily routine, I now have a blank slate. I and I alone am responsible for what is written on it. At work I had expertise and a sense of "knowing." Tomorrow, and for the foreseeable future, each day is one giant "I don't know." Effectively, I am standing at a craps table with a decent stack, have pressed my bets, and let the dice dice fly one more time. They are suspended in the air, moving in painfully slow motion.
That is what it is like to be in my shoes at this moment.
But sometimes that is what it takes to cross to the other side, or beyond, a comfort zone.Not always. The stakes can be smaller and more incremental. But the goal is the same: take the risk, push the boundary, see what you can get away with.
What boundary are you going to push tomorrow?
I don't know either.