I think in general I have pretty good instincts but I am pretty crap at acting upon them. I’ll give you a few examples:
I thought I should have left my job at the homeless hostel within about 6 months of starting there. But I thought I would be letting people down or that it might not look good on my CV if I was only in a job for 6 months.
After a year with my ex boyfriend I thought that things weren’t working and that I should leave but various things had led me to think I wasn’t strong enough to cope on my own. So I stayed and he made me miserable and I tried to make him happy but couldn’t. I stayed for 2 years and for that whole time he was cheating on me.
The week before I moved here I went to visit my dad and told him that he needed to start looking after himself because I wasn’t coming back for 2 years and I didn’t want this visit to be the last time I saw my dad alive. He thought I was being ridiculous but we still talked about things like wills and getting his important paperwork sorted out. I don’t know why I said that to him in the glow of a summer afternoon’s sunshine but I just knew somehow that I needed to because my instincts told me he wasn’t well. And two weeks later his doctor’s visit told him he had terminal cancer. Four weeks and 3 days later he was dead and that visit had been the last time I saw my dad alive in any real sense. Of course I saw him for the two days before he died in his hospice bed but by that time he was not really recognisable as my father – the person who told me that I should say ‘May I get down from the table?’ rather than ‘Can I get down from the table?’, the person who would push me on the swing and let me push off his tummy with both feet just to get higher, the person who kept a text message from me saying ‘I love penguins I do’ on his phone for 4 years because it made him giggle.
So I think I know somehow when I need to change things but mostly I’m too afraid to do so because I don’t want to let other people down or disappoint anyone. But I’m 29 now. I don’t want to be living to please others and keeping on to see if it will be alright when I know deep down somewhere that it won’t. And so I’ve come to a decision.
A few weeks ago one of my friends sent me some of the early cast recordings of Into The Woods, which inspired one of my recent blog posts. It made me find my DVD of Sondheim’s 80th Birthday Party Concert hosted by David Hyde Pierce. It’s a retrospective of some of Sondheim’s work, including pieces that he wrote only lyrics for, an orchestral piece that he wrote for the film ‘Reds’ and some of his greatest songs. After watching it through twice in one evening whilst doing my planning and writing my Sondheim post I decided that there are worse things I could do (Grease rather Sondheim) than use some of his words as sort of mantras to help me through things.
The main song that stuck in my mind for weeks to come was Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin singing ‘Move On’ from ‘Sunday in the Park with George’. If you’ve not come across the musical before it was inspired by the painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat. A complex work revolving around a fictionalized Seurat immersed in single-minded concentration while painting his masterpiece and the people in that picture, the Broadway production opened to mixed reviews in 1984. (Thanks wikipedia!) In this song his former lover and muse, Dot comes to see him and they sing this duet:
Stop worrying where you’re going –
If you can know where you’re going
Just keep moving on.
I chose, and my world was shaken –
The choice may have been mistaken,
The choosing was not.
You have to move on.
Look at what you want,
Not at where you are,
Not at what you’ll be –
Look at all the things you’ve done for me.
Opened up my eyes,
Taught me how to see,
Notice every tree-
…I want to explore the light
I want to know how to get through,
Through to something new,
Something of my own –
Stop worrying it your vision is new.
Let others make that decision –
They usually do.
You keep moving on…”
It’s been playing in my head for weeks now and I think it’s time to listen to it. On Tuesday I told the Head of Juniors that I won’t be returning to the school in September. He’s been good about it. He said he would rather I say but understood why I needed to go. I’ve not been well since December, possibly earlier. I’ve had depression. I like teaching the children here and it’s a good place to leave but I know I’m not going to be happy here if I stay for another year and it’s time to move on.
I haven’t got another job lined up, I’m not fully sure where I’m going to live but I’m not all that concerned about that right now. I’ve decided that in January I’m going to go travelling a bit. I meant to go when I was 20 but went to university instead. I’m going to go to visit friends in Australia, hopefully go to a couple of music festivals. I’m going to go to Hong Kong and visit a ten dollar shop. I’m going to fly to the West Coast of the USA and make my way across over a few months ending up in New York. I haven’t got the money to do this yet, but I’ll get some inheritance money coming through soon-ish so I’m going to use some of it to see places I never thought I’d go to. And I’ll have a rest. I feel like I’ve been slogging along for all these years with nothing really to show for it (although I know that’s not strictly true).
Then when I come back I’ll look for another teaching job, apply for university again and see where I go from there. I’m not worried about where I’m going, I’m just moving on. Life can be short, I don’t know what’s coming around the corner so I’m going to do things for me instead of worrying about what other people will think.
As an extra bit of serendipity, perhaps the universe or something telling me I’m doing the right thing, last night I watched a new episode of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and the voice over fit with what I have been thinking. I know that’s quite ridiculous and if you are in a certain mood you can interpret anything as a sign or a path to follow but I quite like when things seem to fit together out of nowhere like that. The storyline follows the doctors dealing with various medical emergencies, as usual, and then working on the premise that if there’s something nagging at you, telling you something’s not right then you should listen to it even if it doesn’t seem to make sense.
“… It’s like they say, always follow your intuition.” Grey’s Anatomy 9.19
And as I’ve been writing this with my ipod on shuffle again, this came up from Eliza Carthy and Norma Waterson:
“Time it is a precious thing, time brings all things to my mind, time with all it’s labours along with all its joys, time brings all things to an end.”
So my time in Tanzania is drawing to a close in a few months. Who knows what will happen next?
“…it’s time to trust my instincts, close my eyes and leap…” Wicked.