This is not about my own, or anyone else’s, ability to place a car in a space tidily, but the other sort of parking – the ability to stop doing something you have done for a time, without feeling any need to go back to it, and without regrets.
My life has been full of parking! I would say that I am relatively unusual in this trait of character, if only for the sheer volume of parking which I have done in the last 50+ years – i.e. my adult life.
I can count 8 specific occasions where I have volunteered myself out of a paid position, and sought something different. Why would I do this, as a company director or senior manager in most cases? And these happened in the days before LinkedIn, when ‘contacts’ were usually past mates in the industry, or, at most sophisticated, a recruitment consultancy.
Some jobs naturally run their course, with a major element of repeating the same thing year after year. No challenge there! Yes, I need a challenge…
Sometimes, I have been ‘sold a pup’ – or perhaps didn’t ask the right questions at the right time, only finding out the reality of a position once in place. That’s always disappointing – best to get out quickly in that case.
Sometimes something tangibly better came along, and there was no reason not to change.
Only once was the decision taken for me – a ‘realignment of resources’ – and once it was a mutual parting of the ways.
I have largely been master of my own destiny, with no regrets on that score at all – I have had many wonderful and life-enhancing experiences along the way. I may have given my wife and family a few nervous moments, but they always supported me – and it all turned out well in the end.
There is a long list here, as well – but all on the same basis that things can just run their natural course, and a new challenge is required. I know others feel they must hang in there regardless, and would never think of leaving (say) a choir, due to the many friendships which have ensued and a love of singing. But I have equally seen many personal difficulties arise as a result of hanging your hat on a single social peg, especially over the last 18 months, as normal, regular social activity has had to cease. People get very personal about their choir, or their parkrun, and life is diminished if this constancy disappears.
Yes, I have joined and left two excellent choirs in my home area, and even taken the occasional sabattical along the way. Again, I had my reasons for stopping at the time, with the last one due to a lack of strength in the voice, and an increasing tendency not to be able to coordinate the dots on the page with my brain and what comes out of my mouth. Probably an age thing. BUT, I still socialise with those whom I developed strong friendships with whilst singing – this transcending the actual singing.
I presented 150 2 hours’ long radio programmes between 2012 and 2015. That was quite enough. I couldn’t have enjoyed it more, but I knew when to stop.
In early lockdown I solved 24 x 500 piece jigsaw puzzles, one after the other. I’ve never been tempted to do another since #24.
I have also completed 13 paintings one after the other, in the period around Christmas 2020, but now done, I am not getting any internal nudges to carry on (yet). I actually thought that I’d have a go at abstract painting, bought a very good book on the subject, but have yet to start anything. I don’t seem to be able to get my mind in the right place to go ‘freeform’ in my thought-processes to put something down on canvas. Maybe this will change.
So, what does all this say about me – especially as I have been consistent in so many other areas, such as cycling and walking, of which I never tire? Character trait/imperfection? Ever higher expectations? Luxury of choice? I may even get a suggestion or two by email following publication of this.