I Sat Staring Off Into Space

Friday was my last day in the office before I leave my job.  Yeah, I still have performance reviews to do, and some administrative clean-up, but really it’s all over.

(c)AdobeStock Photo

(c) AdobeStock Photo

This chapter is done.

In a way it wasn’t different from any other day.  I drove in, parked in the lot, put my lunch in the fridge, sat at my desk, and started the conference calls.  One after the other.  Scrambled to move my calendar around as “emergency” meetings were called, and then the follow-up to the emergency, and the follow-up to the follow-up.  The usual day.

Except it wasn’t.  It was the last time I’ll go to one of those emergency meetings.  The last time I’ll talk about this project.  The last day I’ll have direct influence over the outcome.  The last time I’ll walk out the door.

As I wrote the other day, I’m trying to stay present through it all.  I wanted to stay right in these moments, even as they were both normal and not.  Even as I fought with frustration over continued indecision, relief that this would cease being my problem in a few weeks, and grief that I wouldn’t work with my close co-workers again.  All that swirling in my head.

I don’t know what I thought the last day might be like, but it certainly wasn’t this.  Spending most of the day holed up in my cubicle on the phone, not even having time to talk to those right next to me (though that’s how most of my days have been).  Hardly anyone in the office to say good-bye.  Walking out alone, after packing two small bags with the stuff I wanted to keep.  Getting into my car in the dark, empty parking lot with snow falling.  No, that wasn’t how I pictured it at all.

Even as it was strange and almost surreal, there were some bright spots too.  I got to coach a guy from my team one last time – talk about his future.  I spent an hour with a co-worker at the end of the day just talking about where his head is at, and hugging before he left.  I looked through papers I’d filed, and found some old phone lists that reminded me of special people through the years.

In a sense, it was just like every other day.  Except it wasn’t.  It was the last one.  And knowing it was the last one made it different somehow.

When I got home, it was the same thing.  I did what I normally do.  Made dinner, put my work stuff away, sorted the mail.  Just like every other day.  Except it wasn’t.  It was the last time I’d come in from that job, from that place.  And so even as it felt normal, it also felt different somehow.  I felt the weight of it.

I finally sat down and began to read.  Days of not sleeping well had taken their toll.  I kept nodding off.  I couldn’t pay attention to the book.  Finally, I closed the book and just stared off into space, wondering what I was feeling.

Nothing.  Or nothing I could ascertain.  Shell-shocked maybe.  Is this normal – or is it different?  How SHOULD I feel?  I don’t know.  I’ve never done this before.  This last day after 36 years.

Have you ever felt this way?  Something monumental is happening.  A seismic shift.  Your life will never be the same from this point forward.  And yet, in another way, it’s like every other day.  You get up.  Get dressed.  Get in the car.  Whatever.  It seems so normal.  And yet it isn’t.  Nothing will ever be the same.

It doesn’t feel so big, and yet it does.  And so you’re just sitting there staring off into space.  Feeling numb.

I think your body knows.  It knows how big it is.  What it feels.  I think mine does too.  I’m just not getting the signals. Maybe you aren’t either.  As in tune as I’m trying to be, I think yesterday might have simply been overload.  So I stared off into space.  Feeling empty.  Perhaps trying to avoid what I thought would be an unbearable weight.

I’m going to spend time in the next few days and weeks really getting in touch with my own body. Making sure it’s connected to the rest of me.  I hope you will too.  In the busyness of this time of year, take a few minutes to connect with the deepest part of yourself.  To feel all that’s there, whether joyful or painful.

You’ll be glad you spent that time. It’s an investment in yourself.  One that will pay dividends in greater connection not only to yourself, but to others as well.  And that weight you may have been trying to avoid?  It’s actually smaller when you bring it out in the open.

As a bonus, if you want to live that 2.x life I’ve been talking about on my podcast since Episode 075, you’ll know better what you really do and don’t want.  Your body will help guide you as you notice how it responds when you explore.

So if you find yourself staring into space, feeling numb, or deflecting your attention to distract yourself, it’s time to reconnect.  You can pray, meditate, exercise, eat mindfully, take a walk.  Something to restore that vital connection with the essence of who you are.  And even with God.

How’re you feeling?  Do you even know?  Sit for a minute and then share in the comments

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Debra Healey

    I still remember my last day at the office. I took a video of me leaving for work with coffee in hand, then driving to and from work. It was a monumental day for me so my expectation is that people would stop by and say goodbye, but, for them it was just another busy day at the office. At the end of the day no one had stopped by so I decided to go to them to experience a hasty “so long” and “I’m not good at goodbyes and its a busy day”. That is when I realized that in the coming months I really wanted to appreciate and live in the moment, to experience my feelings and to not have expectations of having my needs met by someone else. So on my last day and 18 years of working together, none of my co-workers stopped to say goodbye, why?, because for them it was just another busy friday. in their work life. I did experience hurt feelings and I also realized that in the “work a day” world people are getting caught up in the moment of what i going on, it’s not that they don’t care, or won’t miss you, it’s that their work world is going forward and your life is now moving forward leaving that work world behind. Looking back, I wish I took the time to FEEL that and appreciate what was ahead of me instead of an expectation of a clean ending.
    On monday morning, when you wake up and not have to do that “work a day” routine, my wish for you is that you will enjoy a leisurely tea, appreciate all you contributed to your work and people for 36 years and look forward to all good things coming your way.

    • One of the things I’m reflecting on is how it is compared to what I expect. And it’s such a trap, isn’t it? Though I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t think it would be what happened. Sounds like you didn’t either, Deb. So I’m taking this time to do what you’ve been doing – be present with what is. And with who I am. Not what I’ve been in the past, as much as that has gotten me to where I am today.
      These next two weeks will be even more in between, as I do the last items from home. Then it’s the next chapter in earnest. What a way to start the year….with a bang. Can’t wait to see what happens.

  • Powerful reflection Kathleen. It also strikes me that you are also a different person beating to a different drum. You no longer fit into that world and while it feels so poignant, the future that awaits you and is beckoning is so more fulfilling and relevant to the person you were created to be. One chapter has closed, a new one is beginning! Embrace it all and enjoy the ride!

    • You are so right, Sunil. The gulf has been widening for some time as my drum beat has gotten stronger. I love the way you put that. It is poignant right this minute, and also exciting to be on a new, uncharted path. Can’t wait to open this book and start reading.

  • Rick Charlie

    Thank you for sharing all this part of the journey with us! I’ve been there, and I understand, though I’m sort of still there again. Much love to you my dear! Such a treasure to read all this!

    • I know how much you understand, Rick. You’ve said good bye and started over many times. Thanks for being with me on this rip roaring adventure.

  • “Well done, good and faithful one”— that’s what comes to mind. Your description of the last day feels cinematic, muted strings underscoring the parking lot scene.

    Thank you for your candor. Your resolute hope amid fatigue, unexpected realities, even those numb, yet-to-be-named moments. It’s a privilege to share these glimpses of your journey. I am keen to witness what unfolds beyond this segue. For now, rest well.

  • Virginia Thompson Wynne

    “There comes a time in every life where it becomes quiet and the only thing left is your own heart”.