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Oh how my mind flailed as I sat in my car frozen with fear in the company parking lot. Be sensible, it pleaded.

How will you survive, it asked as I walked in the building.

The steps up to my manager’s office each begged the same question:

How will you take care of your son?

How will you take care of your son?

How will you take care of your son?

I don’t know, I thought at the top of the stairs.

This likely ends in ruin, it warned. My hand trembled as I laid the letter on the desk.

I’m a flaming heap of emotions now. Every one of them dialed to 11. Regardless, a deep part of me knows I had to do this. Is this a hero’s journey or a fool’s? I am starving for change, for transformation and growth, but its unfurling has been stuck somewhere between my heart and head like a decades-long choke.

It is clear that at some point early in life I declared war upon myself. My head was, and still is, possessed by a malignant alter-ego. The poison it whispered into my veins over the years has laid waste to my heart. It’s so horribly wounded it’s a wonder that it still pumps blood. One ventricle is hard as granite. Battlements encircle another. The third is ripped wide, bleeding out. The last, stoically accepting its suffering, pumps on.

I first time I faced death, the surgeon said the only reason I was still alive was because my heart kept beating. “You’ve got a strong heart, kid.”

I was 17. It wouldn’t be the last time death and I danced.

I’m a survivor. A damn good one. The problem with surviving is it has nothing to do with thriving. Living in chronic survival mode leads to becoming complacent with suffering. Lace that with an attitude that you deserve to suffer and you create a living hell. Winning at losing becomes a strategy, a habit.

Birds, namely hawks and crows, have played an uncanny role in my life during the upheaval of the past five years. I dream about them. Awake, I encounter them at odd moments with strange circumstances, usually while in deep thought or internal conflict. I don’t know what to make of it. Are they metaphor or messenger? Both? I don’t normally subscribe to spooky forces, but it’s happened enough that I pay attention. It has meaning, regardless of source.

Back in December, while I was walking back into my house after getting the mail, a thought erupted in my mind:

Your job is killing you. You need to quit.

It was matter-of-fact, dead serious and true. Then I happened to look straight up. The sky was blue and a lone hawk was circling high up, riding a thermal. I took it as an endorsement. I made plans.

Over the next few months my resolve waned. Outside forces made a mess of my timeline and I lost control. I caved to fear and doubt. Then my plans derailed into crisis. It was clear that planning, thinking, waiting, debating, flossing were not options anymore.

I had to act. The problem was that every option sucked. Each choice was only a temporary reprieve from ruin.

On Sunday I went for a long ride on my bike. 55 miles, to be exact. When my thoughts get all jammed up, full of doubt, fear and confusion, riding gives me some clarity. I forget this often. Great chasms of non-riding are countered with epic journeys. My body wails in resistance to the polar switch between states. I pedal through it’s complaints because I’m great at suffering.

My pendulum swings wide at times trying to find balance.

Halfway through the ride a hawk glided down from my right, passing directly in front of my path of travel. Neither of us reacted to avoid our looming collision. With only a couple of feet between us, it passed by at eye level and into a copse of young oak trees to my left. I could have reached out and touched it. My mind balked in disbelief.

On Monday I knew what I had to do.

On Tuesday I submitted my resignation letter to my employer of 24 years. After Friday I will be jobless.

I’m ripping out the last root, the taproot of the life I’ve tended with only the narrowest of visions: survival. It was a path to ruin from the start. Any fruits gained were drowned in years of bitterness, a bitterness for myself mostly, for the part of me that accepted an existence contrary to what I ache for deep inside.

Maya Angelou called bitterness a kind of cancer, and I agree. It’s time to cure myself.

It’s time for my way.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Wendryn June 6, 2014, 1:39 pm

    Sounds terrifying. Also sounds pretty wonderful and courageous. I hope you find what you are looking for; from the birds, it sounds like freedom is a huge piece of it.

    • Cab June 9, 2014, 9:40 pm

      It’s time for an adventure… Thanks Wendryn. xo

  • M T McGuire October 3, 2015, 12:29 am

    wow. It takes courage to do something like that, but the more you do it, the less courage it takes. Good luck and God bless.

    Cheers

    MTM

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