Thursday, November 6, 2008

off the path

Sophie and I had our last weekday road trip for a while today. It was warm and sunshine spilled over the remaining fall colours. We headed up to Belwood Lake Conservation Area, where the two of us walked through the forest quiet, our footsteps crunching softly on the beds of fallen pine needles and I thought about our last three months together....three months of unexpected time and uncertainty after falling victim to the downsizing at my company mid-August. It was the first time I had ever lost my job....the first time I didn't have sure footing on the path I had planned out for myself. It was the first time I had to define myself without the cloak of a position, of a career....and I had no idea how to do that or even if I could. There were days, especially early on, when I cried. When it felt easier, safer to just fold up into myself, stay on the couch, lose myself in a movie marathon and pretend there wasn't a world going on outside without me.

What saved me....what brought me back was Sophie. She had to be walked, so one brisk fall day I decided to take her on what would become the first in our series of "weekday road trips". That first trip was to Forks of the Credit Conservation area. As I was walking with her that day, I watched her run with wild abandon, darting off the path to explore some secret nook and then dart back over again. I thought about how she ran: happiest off the path, thrilled to be chasing a butterfly in random flight or finding something new and interesting in unchartered territory. And I realized that I now had that opportunity as well and I should grab it and run with it....just like Sophie. Not just for a new job, a different career...but to embrace this time off and make the most of it. And for the first time, in a long time, I genuinely smiled and my heart felt glad again.

I start a new job on Monday...our road trips have come to an end. I am embarking on a new path but I now know that it's still important to take the time, every now and then, to chase butterflies.

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