I have struggled to write something for this month’s blog entry. Not because I have nothing to write about, but because everything I have started to write has ended up being some self-indulgent waffle. I started to write about ‘change’, because change is happening all around me right now: after years of hard study, my son has just started University; my daughter has landed a lead role in her senior school production; my sister is embarking on an exciting new venture as an artist, and a good friend was recently ordained. I was going to write that ‘change is a good thing’; ‘we should embrace change’; ‘change is exciting’. I was going to write that ‘sometimes when lots of change is going on around us we can feel like a stationary object with shooting stars of change coming at us from all directions, and we just have a moment to see them before they pass us by.’
Then I realised where all this was coming from. My own pace of change has slowed considerably. I was recently approached by two headhunters for senior roles in my industry, and I turned them down flat. Ten years ago, even five years ago, I would have ruthlessly followed up. In my field of expertise it is not unusual to change jobs every few years, from the age of late 20’s until early 40’s the average tenure is probably something in the region of three years. My own average since I was 28 (excluding two periods of freelance work) is two years and four months, and as I have now been with my current employer for more than three years typically I should be looking for my next move. But I am not. For the first time in a long time, I don’t want to move. I enjoy my job, have an enviable work/life balance, a boss who gives me complete autonomy (but is there when I need him), and a loyal hard-working team that I have built and developed.
So why am I feeling like I am surrounded by shooting stars? It is because I am. All of those I mentioned earlier are taking their opportunities and making the most of them, they are moving at a much faster pace than I am. That’s how it should be. We cannot all be in a constant state of rapid change – we’d go crazy if there were not things or people that we could rely on, or if our own lives didn’t stay relatively stationary for long enough for us to decide what we wanted, or to recognise a new opportunity when it arises. But human beings, on the whole, are progressive creatures by nature; we crave new things, new experiences, and new challenges. But we are also creatures that can appreciate what goes on around us, whether that is art, theatre, literature, sport, music, the natural world, or technology advances in areas such as science & medicine. We can also appreciate the beauty of change in others. I listened to my son, offering a little advice when needed, as he carefully chose which university he wanted to go to, and what course to study, and then watched him apply himself to his studies, achieve his grades and get where he wanted to be, I’ve watched as my daughter has continued to expand her creative horizons and will now be one of the youngest leads ever in her senior school play, I’ve seen how amazingly creative my sister is (the illustration on this page is one of her paintings), and I’ve watched from a distance as my lovely friend Wendy was ordained into the priesthood, after agonising over her calling. All that time I have had the advantage of being relatively stationary – I’ve been the constant this time. As a result I have a completely different perspective than these shooting stars and, if I watch closely and carefully enough, I can see them approaching, their lights growing ever brighter, and when they come close to me they are dazzling, but unlike celestial shooting stars, they are not gone in an instant and fade to nothing, if I choose to I can hold them for as long as I like in my gaze as they approach, and watch them grow bigger, brighter and more brilliant.
It is a true privilege to be standing relatively still while I take in all this change. It is also a lesson in not being too hungry for change all the time. No doubt my time for change will come again and hopefully I will be someone else’s shooting star. But, right now, I am more than content to gaze upon those stars around me.
This painting by my sister, Sandra Brown, painted without my knowledge as I wrote this blog, perfectly visualises holding a star in my minds eye and watching it grow.