It seems to me that when one sets off on an adventure, life ought to accommodate that quest joyfully and should suit itself to one’s sense of excitement. It should bask in that frisson of anticipation that good things are to come. But sometimes life doesn’t. Sometimes it steadfastly refuses to become adventurous, and instead wallows in the mundane slog of life. Otherwise stated, sometimes life is riddled with churlish disappointments.
One of my LinkedIn pals wrote a comment awhile back, observing that my life has certainly been an adventure. When I read her post, I felt like I was harboring a dirty little secret. Because the truth is that, in fact, my life, much like yours no doubt, has actually been long slogs of unremarkable life, punctuated by the occasional — and thus all the more memorable — fun adventure.
I’m luckier than many in the adventures I have had. They have been numerous and they were terrific fun. But adventures are often little more than an upbeat attitude cloaked around a life passage, rendering it remarkable, uplifting, inspirational, or just downright fun!
So perhaps what is striking me now as a Churlish Disappointment is little more than February doldrums dressed up as seasonal affective disorder. Unfortunately, however, this Churlish Disappointment has an air of finality, not seasonality, to it.
We are all, of course, accustomed to Life’s Little Disappointments. They pepper our days, and we shake them off like a dog scatters raindrops off its back after a recent inclement sortie. Then we move on purposefully about our business. Life’s Little Disappointments are eminently forgettable.
On the other end of the spectrum are Life Regrets. They are the big ticket items — the things we thought we would never experience or would never miss experiencing, but somehow we did and suddenly it’s too late reasonably to believe that the missed opportunity will present itself again. Or it will forever be impossible to undo the magnitude of the experience one regrets having had. Life Regrets are things like never getting that hoped-for college degree, never having children, losing a child, getting a divorce, or perhaps not getting a divorce.
Churlish Disappointments are midway along the ‘life sometimes stinks’ spectrum, although perhaps leaning closer in towards the Life Regrets end. Webster’s dictionary says that churlish suggests “surliness, unresponsiveness, and ungraciousness,” as in churlish remarks. And that’s the way I feel about the Churlish Disappointment of which I write.
Life turned downright surly, unresponsive, and ungracious on me as I moved forward on my adventure to transition from a career as an erstwhile civil rights and employment lawyer/HR consultant to the life of a wildlife/ecosystem conservation professional. My hopes were high, my network has been both informative and facilitative, and my enthusiasm burned hot. So what happened? Or rather, perhaps, what did not?
Regular readers will recall that this adventure was the driving force behind this blog, which was to chronicle the unlikely but enthusiastically undertaken career transformation. It’s fair to say that over this four month quest, what happened is simple. Life happened. The slog of life. The reality of life. The adventure led to certain inescapable conclusions which follow and which qualify regrettably more as ‘slog of life’ reasons than as ‘snippets of glorious adventure’ reasons. (Like I said earlier, my life, no doubt like yours, is often an unremarkable long and lonely slog.)
The realities are that it’s hard to change careers when one can offer only transferable skills, rather than a skill set in the chosen career path. Other realities abound. Opportunities are few and far between in the conservation/ecosystem space, and the competition is fierce, especially among those with the proper skill set. Folks like myself are viewed as well meaning, but better suited to board posts or volunteer activities.
The gig is not completely up. I have a few remaining irons in the fire, and a dynamite new network of incredibly talented wildlife, animal care and protection, and ecosystem professionals whose work literally may mean the difference between the continued existence of some species we hold dear (elephants and lions, to name but two) and others you may never have heard of, such as the little known pangolin, About the Pangolin, the world’s most heavily trafficked creature. Yet, the dye is likely cast. This particular adventure may be morphing into a more modest undertaking of volunteer proportions.
I prefer to look at this endeavor as one that is not over, rather as one that requires a lot longer time horizon than I anticipated or could sustain for near-term employability purposes. I will continue my volunteer efforts and hope that this will provide a path to more sustained involvement in wildlife conservation efforts. In other words, the slog of life continues without the romance of adventure for the moment.
Fortunately, as one door closes another opens, and my search for a position in the Human Resources compliance arena (which is congruent with my past work experience) has gained early and strong traction.
The blog too will continue as that is the essence of life. Whether it relates to a blog or a journey, one continues on even as the adventure fades, and the purposeful stride settles into a less ambitious slog. Either way, you’re covering the territory in front of you and sometimes, on a bitter cold, sunlight-slighted February day, that’s all you can hope for as you move forward, putting yet another Churlish Disappointment resolutely behind you.