Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My unsettled decade

I was thinking back over the aughts the other day. There's the headline news version of this crazy decade, of course, but I was thinking about what it was like for me personally. And I realized it was incredibly unsettled.

Let's start with the living arrangements. I realized, upon consideration, that I have lived in 12 places since 2000. When writing my Christmas cards this year, I noted that I have moved 5 times in the last 2 years. I lived in three states (California, Ohio, and for one summer, Washington state) and two countries (Uganda, natch). My longest stint was in a dreadful apartment from which I did not move because I kept expecting to move to something more permanent. That didn't happen until I was laid off, which in many ways was the best thing to happen to me. (It got me out of that apartment for one thing.)

Then I started thinking about work. Of the past 10 years, less than half was spent in full-time employment, in three separate jobs. I was employed part-time for about three of those years, was unemployed for a total of one year (in two separate stints), and was a student for 1 1/2 years at the very beginning of the decade. I'm actually amazed I'm in financially as sound a situation as I am, especially given I'm living in California, but I know that's largely due to the generosity of family, friends, and church.

With all of that, I was starting to feel very depressed about wasting 10 years of my life. But then a Facebook friend, looking at my blog the other day, commented that I was very impressive. I couldn't imagine what he was talking about. But there it is, over in the "about me" column: I was a Kiva fellow in Uganda, and I'm the managing director of a non-profit, which I guess does sound impressive. Then I realized I also got a graduate degree, did a couple of triathlons, and started a college chaplaincy. If you look at it that way, it was a really good decade.

If there's one thing I've learned from obits it's that a life that looks impressive in summary takes an awful long time to live. And if there's one thing I've learned from cemeteries it's that your accomplishments don't remember you.

I'm not sure, summing up, whether it was a good decade or a bad decade for me. It was what it was. How was it for you? Personally, I'm happy it's over. I'm looking forward to a new decade and curious to see what happens. I'm hoping for something more stable. But you never know.

2 comments:

Kirstin said...

"Unsettled" fits for me as well. The first half of the decade, I was frustrated with myself for not doing more with my life. Then I went to seminary. Then I got cancer. Now, I'm firmly on the right path, but as yet income-less. So.

Here's to a more solid, more confident, more hopeful next ten years!

Laura Toepfer said...

Amen to that.