Our Lame Duck Life: Leaving It All In Three Months
Photo by Yahya Hasan: https://www.pexels.com/photo/black-sand-grainer-on-hourglass-6676154/
Three Months Until We Travel
Back when we hatched this scheme of traveling the world for a year, our three year timeframe seemed just right. Not “in another lifetime”, and yet safely in the future. To imagine our pending journey was like watching someone skydive on television from the safety of my couch, and saying to myself, I could do that.
But things look very different when you have the parachute strapped to your back as the airplane makes its ascent. Oh my God, I’m really doing this! At three months out, that is where we are mentally.
We still fantasize about how great it will be — taking daily hikes, spending lazy afternoons in a hammock, wandering to wherever our curiosity leads us, finding new opportunities to learn and grow — but now we actually have to make some plans and carry them out. The time is approaching fast and we can no longer view it safely from a distance. We have to think about how we will get around Brazil, and when and how we will eventually leave (a requirement to obtain a Brazilian tourist visa we found out). We have to put our home affairs in order. Clean all the endless grimy corners so our AirBnB guests aren’t grossed out. Think of every contingency and write out a plan for the person who will tend to our home so she doesn’t feel she has to wing it alone. (…What to do if a tornado sucks the roof off our house and we are volunteering at an eco-restoration camp in the Amazon with no internet or phone.)
And all this has gotten me thinking about our perception of time. Especially how wonky and distorted it gets the closer we approach a major life change. I can’t help toggling between feeling like this is coming on way too fast, and impatiently asking myself why three months takes SOOO LOOONG.
Life as a Lame Duck
We are in this lame duck phase of our current life. A lame duck is typically what you call a president in the space between an election and when they leave office. That is analogous to where we are now: technically still conducting our current affairs, but only for a little while longer. Our minds have already skipped ahead to the next exciting chapter as our bodies still go about our daily routines. It’s hard to be mentally present when this life will soon be nothing but a memory.
To add to this disjointedness, I haven’t yet told my employer that I’m leaving (I’ll do this at the end of April). So imagine the dissonance of having to pretend that a corporate shakeup or taking on a new demanding client matters to me, even though I won’t be here in three months.
Oddly, though, I’ve found it easy to pull off. It’s not that I’m a great con artist. The fact that I can’t think on my feet disqualifies me for that career. Rather, when I’m in the moment it really does feel like it matters. It’s like I can put on this imagined parallel self that isn’t about to off ramp onto a new life. I am puzzled to find myself sincerely voicing my opinion about matters that will go into effect long after I’m gone. It truly feels like I still have some kind of stake in it… for my parallel universe self.
Then there are times I really zoom out and look at my life as a whole. And that brings up a whole new set of questions. Given that I’m turning forty this year, is this trip a kind of halftime intermission, delineating two distinct acts? Will I finally find my calling once this trip is over? Where in the world did the first half of my life go anyway!?! Have I accomplished anything meaningful? Is this what a midlife crisis looks like???
And after all that zooming in and out and forward and parallel, I step back into my physical body that is right where I left it, doing the same things it was doing three years ago. I remind myself that this is my life too. It is not yet a memory. My eldest son is student of the month; my middle son is just learning to sound out words; and my youngest just turned three (officially not a baby anymore). Things are still happening.
Maybe I will miss this life and maybe I won’t. But I mustn’t be too eager to skip ahead. This lame duck life of mine still has something good to offer and may still have something to teach me if I pay attention and remain present.
But who am I kidding. Will I remember any of this when I’m lying in a hammock on a Monday, slurping a passion fruit smoothie?