It was early in 2016 when I met with Michele. She was unaware I had gone through a divorce last year. “I really need a few wins this year,” I proclaimed.
She just smiled at me. “Let’s hope for the best,” she replied
But, my rollercoaster life keeps bringing new turns. The most recent is a change in my employment. As the result of a reorganizational process where I work, I made the decision to pass on a new job offered to me in the new structure. Now I find myself out of a job and wondering what the next chapter will look like.
The single life most people have in their twenties was not something I experienced. College life isn’t really single life. It’s fake single life. It’s kind of like preparation for single life but without the risk of making any truly life-altering mistakes. When I graduated, I was engaged and six months later was in a marriage that would last just shy of twenty-eight years.
During that time, my kids were born, I worked in both the corporate world and in churches, and I never really knew what it was like to maneuver through life as a single person. It seems that part of my life is only now unfolding.
With the loss of my marriage and, most recently, the loss of my job, I am now responsible only for myself. It’s time for me to discover how I will make my mark in the world. I was telling my friend Daniela yesterday that it seems as though I’m living my life backwards or, at least, out of order. It’s like this chapter of my life should have come after college graduation and before marriage. But it somehow got rearranged.
Not even a week has passed since learning my life would take this turn and I’ve already been given options to consider. Do I return to acting? Start my own business? Manage a band? Work in corporate consulting?
In the midst of employment options presenting themselves this week, in recent days I’ve also had the most enriching and inspiring conversations with the widest diversity of souls. Some were old friends, others are emerging relationships, but they were all life-enriching. This led me to a couple of realizations.
The organization from which I will soon depart is calling the next phase of their existence their “third act.” I suppose I could define my life in those terms as well.
The “first act” lasted until college ended and “act two” was post-college to the current day.
Now I’m in intermission and getting ready to raise the curtain on my third act. Whatever else my personal “act three” looks like, there are a couple of things in which I’m confident.
First, it will be filled with a new cast of characters. The cast will be a tapestry of vibrant, eclectic, creative, life-giving, and challenging personalities. These will be new kinds of relationships not necessarily based on shared beliefs, but on a shared curiosity of life and the exploration of what life offers us as human beings.
Second, my life will be sustained by a varied collection of activities. I suspect there will be several streams in which I will swim and that may be true for the rest of my life. I’m more than okay with that. I can envision a reality in which no two days are marked by any set routine of regular work hours. The possibility of being in and out of places, engaging in new communities and conversations is seeming more likely than ever.
As my divorce and now my newly unemployed status have given me a blank canvas on which to paint the rest of my story, I’m rediscovering a nomadic, artisan soul that has long been dormant. It was always there, but by my own choices I put it on a shelf. Now it’s time to take it down, open up that box, and see where it leads me.
At the Storyline conference in Chicago last November, I had the opportunity to speak briefly with author and speaker Don Miller. As he listened to me talk about the changes in my life he encouraged me saying, “Rey, there will be beautiful stories coming out of your life from all of this.” Those words have stayed with me and I’m beginning to see the genesis of those stories.
As I enjoyed a plate of Tinga de pollo gorditas and the house margarita at Chef Johnny Hernandez’s The Fruteria with my buddy Jeannette, we were talking about our shared nomadic hearts and what that looks like in terms of relationships. She said the important thing is to find someone who is willing to hold your hand through the journey. That spoke so deeply to my heart and I realized in that moment what life will look like as I traverse the path before me.
Who wants to join me?