Stepping Off the 8:15

 

Musically speaking, the 1960s were a “mixed bag”.  Tucked between the sweet securities of the ’50s and the tumultuous creativity of the 70′s, the decade  included everything from the Beatles to Bobby Vinton, Strawberry Alarm Clock to Nancy Sinatra.  Depending on your perspective, the decade’s nadir or zenith was that bit of fun and frolic held out at Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in Bethel, New York.  And even while Woodstock was taking place, a Canadian named Richard Bachman was writing lyrics for a song.  

Originally entitled White Collar Worker, his song sounded remarkably like the Beatles’ Paperback Writer.  Even the guitar riffs mimicked the more famous song.  The similarities were so obvious publication was out of the question and the song was put on the back burner for several years.  In 1973, it was pulled from the files, revised and recorded.   By then Bachman’s band had a new name – Bachman Turner Overdrive – and their re-worked song became the classic Takin’ Care of Business . BTO’s counter-cultural anthem still pops up from time to time – for years it provided an innocuous musical lead-in for Office Depot’s commercials - but in the 1960’s, no matter which side of the cultural divide you lived on, you knew the lyrics.

You get up every morning  from your alarm clock’s warning, take the 8:15 into the city.
There’s a whistle up above,  and people pushin’, people shovin’, and the girls who try
to look pretty.
And if your train’s on time,  you can get to work by nine and start your slaving job to get your pay.
If you ever get annoyed, look at me, I’m self-employed; I love to work at nothing all day.

Every generation has its own way of making Bachman’s point. For my father and his friends, it was through references to the “rat race” or the “daily grind”. Today’s friends speak disparagingly of “cube farms” and being “Dilbertized”.  But in the 1960’s, “taking the 8:15” was the catch phrase, and everyone knew what it meant: life in a corporate or bureaucratized world where a good bit of the “pushin’ and shovin’” was related as much to the climb up the institutional ladder as to the press of people on a train station platform.

In an interesting historical coincidence, at the same time Bachman was writing his paean to jumping corporate ship, British sailor Sir Francis Chichester was undertaking  a record-breaking circumnavigation aboard his 53’ ketch, Gipsy Moth IV.  At the time, Chichester had a few miles under his own keel. Sixty-five years of age, he was the butt of jokes, the target of dismissive articles which predicted his failure, and gloomy musings on his assured death.  But in 1967, after 226 days at sea, 28,500 miles of ocean and innumerable difficulties, he made fast his lines in Plymouth Sound and proceeded to write an account of his adventure in a best-selling book entitled Gipsy Moth Circles the World.

He had achieved a number of records, including:

* Fastest voyage around the world by any small vessel
* Longest nonstop passage made by a small sailing vessel (15,000 miles)
* More than twice the distance of the previous longest passage by a singlehander
* Fastest singlehander’s week’s run (broken twice, by more than 100 miles)
* Fastest singlehanded passage by sailing speed (1,400 miles in 8 days)

Asked why he embarked on his circumnavigation in Gipsy Moth IV, Sir Francis was quoted as saying, “Because it intensified life”.  J.R.L. Anderson, in his epilogue to Chichester’s book, reflects on the meaning of the voyage in more detail:

“The longest singlehanded passage, the fastest runs, the true antipodean circumnavigation – these things will stand in any book of records, but they are not what drew the crowds to Francis Chichester.  The essential Chichester achievement is something more deeply personal – and personal not alone to him, but embedded in the hearts of every one of us.  He has succeeded in making dreams come true; his own private dreams, and the dreams that most men have from time to time as they are on that ‘long fool’s journey to the grave’. 
For 99.9% of humanity, dreams remain locked up in the secret compartments of the soul.  Not for Chichester.  For him, to dream is to determine, and to determine, to achieve.  People will say, ‘Oh, yes, but he has been lucky.  He has made money, he has found rich backers.  He does not have to travel daily on the 8:15.’  But surely this is part of the achievement!  No one HAS to travel daily on the 8:15!”

Indeed.  Sir Francis, meet Richard Bachman.  In different ways, both men made quite personal, quite intentional decisions to step off more familiar paths and begin to journey as they pleased.  It doesn’t always happen that way.  From time to time a person will trip, or jump or even fall off the 8:15 in a moment of clumsy irrationality without knowing it has happened until much, much later.

 

I never “rode the 8:15” in a literal sense.  Commuter trains weren’t part of my world.  I took buses in Kansas City and walked in West Africa. I bicycled in Berkeley and car-pooled in Houston, but did it all to the same purpose: getting to work at 9, or 7, or noon, and putting in my time.  Over the years, some of the work fit Bachman’s category of a “slaving job”, but not all.   Certainly there were politics (office and otherwise), some drudgery, occasional ennui or conflict – but they were balanced by satisfaction, variety, responsibility, creativity, and the occasional opportunity to make a difference in peoples’ lives.

In short, my working days and years passed happily enough, with no particular sense of restlessness.  When a friend called in 1987 and invited me to join her birthday celebration aboard a chartered catamaran on Galveston Bay, I agreed without much thought.  It would be a nice occasion, a break from the routine and nothing more.  At the time, I was no sailor.  But I loved my friend, and if her idea of a good time was to cast off from shore and admire the sunset from the deck of a boat cruising a muddy, shallow bay, who was I to argue?

I still have photographs from that party. None of them captures the essence of the hot August evening: a freshening breeze as we loosed the lines, the light lapping of wavelets against the hull, a sudden hush as the sun touched the horizon before disappearing into the dusky twilight.  As the first stars began to emerge above the mast, I felt a sudden impulse.  I walked back to the stern and asked the captain,  “Do you teach people to do this?”  Giving me a glance, he said, “No one’s ever asked…” But in the end he agreed, saying, “Fine.  But if you want to learn, you’re going to learn it all.”

Over the months, I did learn.  As my confidence grew, one thing led to another until I moved to keelboats, then on to teaching and chartering. Eventually I was invited to crew on a 65′ sailboat making a trip from Hawaii to Alaska.  It was a spectacular opportunity.  The vessel, Alaska Eagle, was a Whitbread Race winner being used for open-ocean sail training by Orange Coast College in Newport Beach, California.  

Once the offer was made, I realized I didn’t have enough accumulated vacation and personal time  to make the trip. My choice was clear: stay employed, or join the crew.  Everything in my genes, my upbringing, my environment and my brain screamed, “DON’T QUIT THAT JOB!” My heart whispered, “Go…”  And so, in a wonderful burst of unthinking enthusiasm, I resigned my position.  I flew to LA, then on to Honolulu.  I boarded the boat with the rest of the crew and we sailed away: through the Molokai Channel to Kauai and then north, to Alaska and Glacier Bay. After the trip I flew home, stowed my foul-weather gear, looked around my world and said, “Now, what?

At the time, “Now, what?” was a purely practical question.  Through a combination of decision and circumstance, I had tumbled off the 8:15, but I certainly couldn’t spend the rest of my life lying on the station platform.  Since boats had brought me to that point, it seemed reasonable boats should carry me forward.  Assessing the possibilities, I decided to learn the art of refinishing wood. Five hundred business cards and a few reams of sandpaper later, I was a varnish worker, a scandal and an offense to my family, and a sterling example of downward mobility.

In their own way, the next years were as filled with adventure as my sailing career.  Not only had my life changed significantly, I was single-handing as surely as Chichester.  Each day’s questions meant calculating my own answers in the midst of uncharted waters, and reaffirming  those answers in the face of life’s occasional storms.  Whatever else “stepping off the 8:15” meant, it surely meant a greater degree of self-reliance, an increased awareness of my own values, and a more fearless commitment to personal dreams. 

Today, I keep the quotation from Anderson’s epilogue close at hand, tucked into a corner of my desk.  When difficulties or decisions present themselves, whenever I feel myself tempted toward expediency or avoidance, his words serve as a reminder of lessons already learned under the tutelage of Chichester and others: that the best decisions in life are made with the heart as much as the head, that what lies around the next bend in the road rarely is predictable, and that the future is far more vibrant and alive than we possibly can imagine.

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24 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. First of all, Linda, is that the Casino on Catalina Island in that one image (Alaska Eagle)? If so, we have crossed paths more than we realize!

    Secondly, you amaze me by how you connect dots. I’m always inspired by your ability to do that, especially while telling your own story. Back when I was in my linguistic studies, one of my profs had published a volume of his poems under the title of “With Heart and Mind.” So your last sentence is very powerful to me…in more ways than one, as you already know.

    Ginnie,

    That is Catalina Island. Before being accepted for the Hawaii-Alaska trip, I had to fly out to Newport Beach for an overnight sail to Catalina with the Captain and First Mate of Alaska Eagle and other potential crew members. Being smart and experienced, they weren’t willing to accept crew members sight unseen – they wanted to know for certain we had the skills for the trip, and personalities that wouldn’t have other folks jumping overboard.

    If you take a look on my “about page”, you’ll see a photo with an “Alaska Eagle” caption. That picture was taken by Alaska Eagle’s Captain just about five minutes after I’d been told I’d been accepted for the trip and to pick the leg I wanted to sail. My only question was, “Which one’s the longest?”
    It was Hawaii to Alaska, 2401 nm.

    Sometimes I think insight and creativity are just a matter of connecting the dots. In the books we had as kids, the dots were there – we just needed to draw the lines for the image to appear. Of course, connecting the wrong dots can result in some pretty strange pictures! That’s why, in life, we need both heart and mind to help us figure out how to do it.

    Linda

  2. Wow, Linda, this blows me away.

    Sharon,

    Thanks so much for stopping by. This was really fun to write – glad you enjoyed it.

    Linda

  3. Great story – and it does help me connect the dots of other pieces of your story that you have shared.

    I was about to say I regretted not cutting loose from the 8:15, but I suspect that was not an option for me (carrying the family health insurance – raising two sons). So I’ve done some little part-time forays into realizing dreams. Still, Chichester was 65 – there’s time left! Great to have examples like that.

    Mary Ellen,

    Of course there’s time. As long as we’re breathing, there’s time. Besides, as I heard someone say a few years ago when he began his own particular journey, the trick to getting out of the box is thinking “out of the box”.

    The terrific irony in my situation is that a decision made twenty years ago is only now bearing its best fruit. To quote myself from my “About” page: “My dock provides both things Virginia Woolf recommended for a woman who writes: money, from the labor, and a room of my own – space and solitude for thought, remembrance, and creative reflection on the truths and mysteries of life.”

    To put it a different way, I jumped the 8:15 to sail. Today, I’m still sailing – only on quite different waters!

    Linda

  4. Wonderful decision to make the pier head leap. Too many people wouldn’t do it, more’s the pity.

    oldsalt,

    There’s a wonderful Woody Allen quotation that applies here, and that I’ve loved for years. Woody said, “The longest journeys begin with a single step. The best journeys begin with a moment of temporary insanity.”

    Well, yes. :-)

    Linda

  5. I love the way you wove these topics together :) Well done.

    And I love the way you tell stories designed to inspire as well as entertain the reader. They always do both so beautifully!

    Becca,

    I’d been waiting for a nudge to get this piece finished. I’m glad your Write on Wednesday prompt finally got me going!

    It’s funny – I don’t sit down and think “I want to inspire people” or “I want to entertain”. I just want to tell the story – and then I sit back and wait to see what happens. If folks are inspired or entertained – or both! – I’m just as pleased as can be. ;-)

    Thanks for the kind words. I really appreciate them.

    Linda

  6. Does anyone write so well as you? I love how you connect all the dots of music and voyage and faith in making the leap to do what you do. Beautifully, eloquently told — and, I might add, forwarded along!

    jeanie,

    Oh, my gosh, girl. Lots and lots of people write as well as I do, and a lot of people write a whole lot better. But I’m learning, and enjoying the process tremendously. I’m always seeing connections, and my biggest challenge is trying to find a way to weave them together so other people can see the connections, too! I’ve got some ideas for “pushing the boundaries” a little this year, so we’ll see how things go.

    I’m so glad to see you – I hope this means you’re up and about a bit and getting over the nasties!

    Linda

  7. Linda — Loved your line about downward mobility. In your case (and mine as well) downward mobility has had the consequential effect of upward happiness and freedom. Funny how that works, and how so few people take that path. That journey. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

    Tom,

    And isn’t it wonderful to find others who have made essentially the same decision, no matter how it’s worked itself out in the details of a life? For a writer there are stories galore in the downward move. Every now and then I play with the idea of a take-off on that 60′s gem, “I Passed for White”. The obvious title? “I Passed for Blue Collar”. ;-)

    What amazes me today is my new thought that the same might be true for a photographer. Looking at objects and places through the lens of “downward mobility” gives a whole new slant to things otherwise described as dilapidated, run-down, overgrown and such. Looking at the images in your vernal equinox series, I can see the possibility for some interesting musings.

    Always a pleasure to have you stop by!

    Linda

  8. Linda,

    I was glad to see this title — I immediately thought, “All right — Linda’s going to tell her story of how she left corporate America.” And you did not disappoint. It was enjoyable, from beginning to end. And now I know how you ‘landed’ your ‘truth north’ lifestyle.

    And 20 years? Congratulations!

    I’m celebrating 8 years next month. Many thought I was crazy to leave my fantastic job — but I’ve never regretted having that Woody Allen temporarily-insane moment — that decision has enlarged my world far beyond-the-sea dreams.

    I like reading your life. Thanks for sharing it.

    Janell

    Janell,

    Over and over, I hear the same words from people who have made this kind of move: “I’ve never regretted”. “I regret nothing.” “There’s nothing to regret”.

    For whatever reason, I’ve never appreciated until this very minute the reason for that lack of regret. Clearly, it’s grounded in a change of attitude rather than a change in circumstance. I didn’t quit a job. I quit a world-view, and the consequences still are resonating.

    I’ve been very resistant over the past year to people who have nudged me, saying, “You ought to write a book”. “You need to get your stuff out to a larger audience”. “You should explore getting an agent…attending workshops…enrolling in a course…promoting your work…” What they’re suggesting, of course, is a move back into the corporate environment. Having experienced the freedom of being my own skipper, I don’t believe I’ll be boarding someone’s cruise ship any time soon. There are options in this world, after all ;-)

    Linda

  9. I believe you would enjoy this blog:

    Jessica Watson
    Sunshine Coast, QLD, Australia
    Ambition: Become the youngest person to sail solo, nonstop and unassisted around the world

    http://youngestround.blogspot.com/

    …from your friend,
    the Ex-Exuma Park Warden, now down here in Provo.

    B. Nelson
    aka
    CaicosRetiredSailor on WU

    B,

    Not only did I enjoy it, I spent about two hours last night exploring the blog, associated links, etc. I think “unassisted” is a bit of a stretch – that’s one terrific support structure she’s got. Nevertheless, the truth is she’s doing quite a job, and the other truth is that none of us does anything worthwhile “unassisted”. So kudos to her – and thanks to you for dropping by!

    Linda

  10. I knew when you mentioned Woodstock that you were “going to take us somewhere” with this entry and I read on to see just where that would be.

    The leap of faith. It led to your experiencing that leap of faith.

    Maybe it’s the time of year. Maybe it’s this or that. But about to take a leap with writing. See if I can really single-hand it. Really write the story that’s in mind.

    Thanks for the lovely walk along musical memory lane and the nautical history (which I was completely unaware of but am putting Gipsy Moth on my booklist) and bringing it around to finding one’s bliss.

    oh,

    Taking that leap of faith confronts every one throughout our lives, over and over, in ways large and small. Watching your blog entries, I’ve thought, “This is a woman with something else on her mind”. I’m so glad to see that you’re ready to live mid-air for a while.

    Just to ground all this a bit more and because I know you, of all people, will “get it”, I’m adding just a bit from a comment I made to someone on another site as we discussed all this:

    There’s something else I’m just becoming aware of. The same dynamic is repeating itself in my life today, albeit less visibly.

    When I began sailing, I had no goal other than sailing. I did it because I loved it. But I immersed myself in it, and when the opportunity to board Alaska Eagle arrived three years later, I was prepared.

    In the same way, when I began writing, I had no goal other than writing. I did it because I loved it. But I’ve immersed myself in it and when opportunties have presented themselves, I’ve been ready. Who knows what will happen by the time I’ve been writing for three years?

    Every day, I re-decide my life – a little more discipline here, a little more time carved out there. I watch the words pile up like waves and realize I’m sailing again – I just don’t know the destination. :-)

    I do think my compass has been true from the beginning. Here are the final words from my very first WordPress blog:

    The question no longer is: do you want to write? For good or for ill, read or unread, poorly scribed or passionately sung, I will write. At the edge of the precipice, a bit dazed, a good bit confused, I have made my commitment. Let the perseverance begin.

    See you “out there”!

    Linda

  11. “… the best decisions in life are made with the heart as much as the head”, and if the two are in conflict, I’d say: “Follow your heart.” But would I actually dare to do it? You’ve shown me that you’re one who has the courage to put those words into action. I admire and respect you for that courage. I remember my comment on your About Me page, almost two years ago now, I used the word ‘bohemian’ to describe your lifestyle. And this is what you replied:

    “I laughed and laughed to see you describe my life as bohemian, but I enjoyed it, too. It certainly is feeling more so every day.”

    I’m sure that lifestyle had reaped rewarding experience for you. And while there’re risks and insecure waves and currents, I’m sure for the experienced sailor, those are the challenges that come with venturing into uncharted waters. The results, of course, are the inspiring writing you give us. Thanks for daring to go off course, Linda!

    Arti,

    I’m not sure courage is the right word, as I’ve always thought courage implies at least some understanding of the consequences of an action. I certainly had no idea what the consequences of my action would be – I just knew the time for change had come.

    There have been many more changes over the course of these twenty years, some equally significant. But as I look at each of those changes, some due to choice and some due to circumstance, I find myself thinking, “If it hadn’t been for this, or that, I never would have begun writing.” Now I look forward occasionally and wonder – in a decade, what will the “this and that” of life have initiated?

    As the old saying has it, we live life forward, but we understand it backwards. Today’s knowledge is necessarily imperfect and limited, but we have the promise of perfect, future understanding to sustain us!

    Linda

  12. That moving compass is wonderful!

    I’m glad to read your story, it really fills out some layers you’ve alluded to in other posts. I was rooting for you to quit your job! So glad you did and didn’t miss that adventure. I think you would have always regretted it.

    Don and I have changed course a few times in our life together, and amazingly, we’ve been in step about it each time. In some ways I thrive on change and have to be careful of that as an end in itself. But adventure and something new still call to me.

    This was a beautiful account of your path to your current non-9-5 job. By the way, I’m about to post a slightly connected topic sometime today.

    Ruth,

    Isn’t the compass great? When I discovered it was possible to animate images, it went right into my files, just waiting for its perfect spot.

    I think I would have regretted turning down that adventure, too. I’d reached an age where I was beginning to hear tales of people who’d waited until retirement to “enjoy life”, and then were denied that opportunity – by circumstance, by finances, by illness or death. I had many friends who wished they could travel, paint, write – whatever – but they just “couldn’t”. They would do it “some day”. Since physical ability was an important part of sailing, I decided to devote myself to it while I still was strong, and my new work certainly helped keep me in shape!

    I certainly understand thriving on change – I think my bouts of wanderlust are directly related. But in the twenty years between 1965-1985, I moved 13 times or so and traveled extensively. I’ve been content for the past twenty years to be more settled geographically, yet the changes continue to come. I suspect the next twenty will have their own character – but I’ll have to wait to see what that will be!

    I’m looking forward to your newest!

    Linda

  13. Linda, another great read.

    I’d picked up most of the story of how you stepped off the 8:15, from posts here and there. I didn’t know that the trip on the Catalina was the reason you completely kicked over the traces and took off. What a leap!

    I envy you the courage it took to make that big a change in your life. Though I’ve wondered what it would be like to take that leap, I crave security too much. I’m a homebody, an arm-chair traveler, a ‘rut rat’. I like the comfort of well-worn routines.

    I’m also content to be a low man on the totem pole at work. I’ve never had the desire to deal with the headaches that come with moving up the ladder. Put me in a corner, give me something to do and then just leave me the heck alone! As odd as it is, that’s one of my strengths at work. Management knows it and leaves me to it.

    I haven’t heard the name, Gypsy Moth, in ages. I can’t remember if I read Chichester’s book or not. If I have, it’s been way too long. It’s time to check the library and do a re-read.

    Do you remember Robin Graham and his sail around the world alone on The Dove? His story was carried by Nat’l Geo and I was enthralled! I couldn’t imagine having parents cool enough to let you set off like that at age 16, which was just three years older than myself at the time.

    Bug,

    You’d make a perfect varnisher! That’s much of the appeal of of the work to me – being in a corner with something to do, and mostly being left alone to do it. People have tried over the years to turn me into something more, with employees, and paper work, and increased insurance costs and all the joys of running behind someone to make sure they’re taking their job as seriously as I take mine, but after one brief foray into that scene, I said “No thanks!”

    It’s funny. The moment I knew a change was needed was the night I came home and scrubbed every floor in the house. I did it because it felt so good to look at them and see what I’d accomplished. I think from that point on, I was ready for something new ;-)

    I do remember Robin Graham. If you enjoyed that, check out the Jessica Watson link Caicos Retired Sailor left above. There’s some good reading there, too!

    Linda

  14. Lovely to hear your story Linda, so well told. My favorite quote from your Sir Francis story is:

    “…Because it intensified life.”

    Sounds great to me!!! And how lucky we are to be able to indulge and enjoy the opportunity. I’ve stepped off the train a couple times in my life, and have never regretted a minute of it.

    I plan to step off again in about two years – plans in the works!

    qugrainne,

    Why does the phrase “a river runs through it” suddenly come to mind? I suspect I know where one of the stops on your train’s line is – and isn’t it fun to anticipate and plan?

    The great challenge for me in the years to come will be learning to live with the financial consequences of decisions made years ago. I do think I stumbled into a good decision – experience first, writing later. Learning to reconstruct experience, plumb them for meaning and make the whole process enjoyable for others is quite a task. On the other hand, I do have more to plumb than twenty years of sitting in a corner office ;-)

    For some reason your comment about stepping off again reminds me of my first experience of traveling in Germany. I spoke almost no German, although I could say hello, order a beer and say thank you. I was worried about knowing when to get off the train for my various stops. A German friend told me, “Don’t worry about reading the signs. Just set your watch to the train station clock and read your schedule. When the train stops at 10:18, if you’re supposed to arrive at your destination at 10:18, get off. You’ll be where you’re supposed to be.”

    Knowing we want to get off is easy. Making sure the time is right is the second step!

    Linda

  15. Linda -

    I recognized the casino in Catalina immediately -and then you spoke of going to OCC and connecting with them. Have you ever heard of Holly Scott? She is a friend of mine who sails. She was a commodore of her local boat club and her daughter, and some other friends kids, did sailing for OCC. I believe Holly was connected with them too. She has sailed from California to Hawaii – and I believe she did that within the last year as well.

    It would be weird to make a connection like that.

    You know, I did what you did, but probably in a reverse order. I started working in education as an aide, and after 5 or so years, went back to school to get my credential so I could be a teacher. Sure I made more money as a credentialed teacher than as an aide, but I also was able to truly express myself. I was much more beholden to a more rigid schedule, but an educational schedule, in my opinion, is still not as hectic as an office schedule.

    I returned to school as an older adult, felt a bit intimidated, but did it. Like I said, kind of a reverse compared to you, if you get what I mean…but I stepped out…took a chance…believed in myself and graduated college at 49 (I so wanted to graduate before 50!).

    I still admire what you have done and I say that what you have is worth more than any amount of gold….you have yourself!

    Karen,

    No, my only connection with OCC was Alaska Eagle and Rich and Sheri Crowe, who were Captain and Mate on our passage. I’ve read a good bit about their program, though, and had a chance to meet some of the rowing team while I was there. It was a beautiful place, that’s for sure.

    Your comment about working in “reverse order” reminds me of that wonderful saying: “You CAN have it all, you just can’t have it all at the same time.”
    I don’t regret one minute of my academic education – in some ways I’m making more use of it now than ever. But I’m appreciating more and more people like Anne Morrow Lindberg who have written for years of the need for balance between the intellectual and physical life. You certainly know about that, with your emphasis on the outdoors!

    When I think about our blogging community, I’m amazed at our variety and how many gifts we share – different paths for sure, but the same goal of a rich and rewarding life.

    Linda

  16. Linda,

    Great again! I do not regret my step away from the 8:15 that I did when I made the move to Montana. It was full of tension at the time, uncertainty ruled, but the move was made, and a new life began.

    Daniel,

    And what a life you’ve made! I’m sure you’ve discovered the same irony I have – that there’s probably more routine, repetition and responsibility in our current lives than there ever was in those “other” worlds. Certainly there’s as much. But the investment is different, and so is the connectedness with the worlds in which we live and the satisfactions of the work.

    No regrets ~ that’s the best part!

    Linda

  17. Linda,
    This was wonderful. It’s easy to see your path to your present work.

    I’m not the “path less taken” sort, but I have great admiration for those who are. My family has more than its fair share of them.

    When I decided to bring Dad home from the hospital, I developed a brief relationship with a social worker. In a conversation about some of my father’s and brother’s choices, she asked me, “Do you admire them?” Of course, she already knew the answer.

    I so enjoyed this.
    Bella

    Bella,

    The truth of the matter is that I never was the “path less taken” sort myself. The old joke used to be that I couldn’t stand up and read a recipe in front of the family – and I couldn’t! I was terribly, desperately shy. Heading off to do public health work in West Africa started the process of change – no doubt about that. The deprivations of life in Liberia were minimal, but the freedom to work creatively and without many of the constraints of American corporate life were wonderful.

    Besides, once you’ve learned how to live in another culture – no matter what the culture might be – changing “cultures” again and again can be fun!
    And it’s fun to look back and reflect – I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    Linda

  18. Brava, Linda!

    You make “stepping off the 8:15″ sound easy, though we all know that it is (was) not. Thank you for filling in the “gaps” of your story somewhat.

    Of all the things that stand out in this piece -Chichester’s quote, the freedom you experienced – the thing that struck me most was the moving compass at the end. Because the compass is always moving, always shifting. But when you find True North, it will align itself toward that (that’s poor, but I hope you know what I mean). You have found your True North. Again, Brava!

    ds,

    I’m glad you mentioned the compass – I love that compass! And as a matter of fact, if you look at the little hypothetical “choices” I pose on my About page, one is between “map” and “compass”. I chose compass. Sometimes it’s good to have a map, and figure out how to get from Point A to Point B as efficiently as possible. But sometimes, as when I came home from Mississippi last year, it’s enough to say, “OK. This is where we’re headed – we’ll just go south and west until we get there.”

    Of course, it’s even more fun when you don’t quite know what the destination is. With a good compass, at least you know which direction you’re headed!

    Linda

  19. What an incredible story. You seem to have a knack for writing exactly what it is I need to hear on any given day – today I needed to hear there was a way off the 8:15, even if I don’t take it for a few years.

    I’m at a point where I think I could love my job if it didn’t bleed so dramatically into my “off” hours – my blacKberry is the bain of my existence. Your post gives me hope that I will figure out a way to achieve a better sense of balance and joy in my day-to-day life…

    Courtney,

    I didn’t hear of “intuitive planning” until long after I’d made the move to start my own business, but as I think about it today, it’s clear the process leading to “the leap” was quite long – certainly five years, and maybe more.

    You’ve heard the old joke, of course – if you’re tired of working 40 hour weeks, start your own business and work 60! And there has been a good bit of that. I certainly have worked harder since starting my business than I ever did before. But there’s freedom and flexibility that goes with that, too. It’s often balanced out by the constraints imposed by weather, but nothing’s perfect!

    Your reference to your Blackberry tickles me. I have a friend who’s just made her dinnertimes and evenings after 9 p.m. “Blackberry free zones”. She tells people that if they try to get her, they won’t ;-) She says so far everyone’s ok with the new program. Little bits of creativity ~ that’s what it takes.

    Linda

  20. Linda:

    Inspiring, insightful, incisive, provocative and encouraging, not to mention beautifully written.

    As this will be the year I turn 60, and the year I hope to leave my soul-robbing day job I really needed to read this. Thank you!

    Mike

    Mike,

    That’s quite a list of adjectives you left – thank YOU! I smiled to see “encouraging” on the list. There’s a backstory on this piece. This is the second time around for it. I posted it on another site over a year ago. It was about 400 words longer and not nearly as well-written, but there were some people who found it encouraging enough to at least reference it in the midst of making some life decisions – all of which have worked out, I might add.

    In the past couple of months, three of those folks asked me to repost it. Since it never had been on WordPress, I reworked it (away with all those excess words!) and here it is – a reminder to me, too, that there’s always more choice available to us than we imagine.

    I was 62 when I started to write – I just laugh when I read people moaning here and there, “I’m going to be 30 ~ life is over”. I don’t think so.

    Linda

  21. I’ve always been somewhat curious about your trajectory. Thanks for the inspiring and gladdening account. :^)

    LowerCal,

    And I’m just grinning at your use of “trajectory”. Everyone has a different set of lenses to use for looking at the world – love it.
    It’s always a pleasure to have you stop by.

    Linda

  22. I’m confused. Are u from LIBRIZZI SICILY? My name is LIBRIZZI. In 1998 i was coming from Messina on my way to Cefalu when i saw a freeway sign with my name on it. I followed the road 9 km to this little town of LIBRIZZI.

    Took a couple pics so if i understand you are from this town I live in cal you can e-mail me.

    Thomas,

    I think you must have found me at “Librizzi ancestors in my heart”, a blog maintained by a friend who still has family in Librizzi. I leave a comment there from time to time and she has this blog listed in her links.

    I wish I were from the town – it’s truly beautiful. I’m glad you had the chance to visit!

    Linda

  23. How great that you made that life change, Linda!
    (I’m so glad I no longer catch the 8:15, myself…)

    • Andrew,

      Well, of course. If you were busy taking the 8:15, you’d not be able to take such wonderful photos of people busy taking the 8:15!
      (I can’t help but think of the cow photo here! One of the best metaphors possible!)

      I’m glad I made the change, too.

      Linda


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