Three years ahead, behind me. Thicker, softer, more tired. Wiser, more careful with language, more understanding. Less money, from child to children.
Some things, like the children, aren’t plus-one experiences. It’s beyond increments. Transformative. But others are matters of degrees. Some are realizations which turn your perspectives permanently on their respective heads (true does not trump cruel, for example), while others are baby steps, formimg new habits, muscle memory rewrites.
But it’s been three years since I last met with my former colleagues, and the three years make all the more clear what was meaningful and valuable to me.
The local environment plays no small role – very few of the neighbors of “I’ve Got Mine”-ville share (ha!) what I treasure. My children remind me how much joy is in learning, discovering, and solving problems… Or how important it is to reach out to others without patting oneself on the back.
The workplace wasn’t utopia, except for the largely shared priorities and principles. The idea that money wasn’t capital. And that there was a time where respect was given to others, even if at times it was begrudgingly. I miss the reluctant but honest respect, or at least the chance to earn it, as well as anyone else.
It sounds great, doesn’t it? An environment where mutual respepct wasn’t an oxymoron. And that doesn’t begin to describe the people who made it so – their languages, their stories, and the chances we had to write, tell and listen to them together. For once, there was an entity which could accurately be described as a community.
So much has changed, in silken and sinewed degrees, and yet the positions, temperatures, none of these change the compass inside. The magnet of learning, of connection, will pull through the local scrambling, even if it’s not soon enough for my liking.