Where do we start?

Earlier this week I had lunch with a friend I haven’t seen in several years. As we sat down, we started talking about a race he had recently run, my sponsorship of which had put us back in touch. With that covered, we had a moment where we looked at each other and said, “So, where do we begin?”.

Given the time that had passed, we weren’t sure how or where to start.  Do we calculate exactly when we last saw each other and work forward from there?  Or just skip ahead to current stuff – jobs, family, mutual friends? We figured it out, and, as it’s always been our custom to enjoy long, lingering meals, we spent over three hours catching up.

I’m hoping that meal will be good preparation for my upcoming return to the office, about a week and a half from now. Where do I start catching up with my colleagues? Of course, three months isn’t nearly the same as three years, but three months in the life of an organization is a significant amount of time. Particularly when that organization includes hundreds of people and spans multiple countries. On top of that, the past several months have been a time of transition and turnover. I honestly don’t know how many people I’ll recognize when I get back. Part of me wonders if I should pretend to be a new employee, and see how long I can keep that up…

For now, I’m focused on spending the first few days getting re-acclimated, meeting with and listening to the people who have been doing the heavy lifting in my absence.  I have to remember to be patient with them, and with myself, and to allow for some difficulties in the first few days. Getting back to my old routine and schedule will be a challenge.  I’m thinking of strategies to bring the things that have become important to me – exercise, mindful eating, thoughtful communication – into my work day.

All of this will take time. I hope in the weeks to come that I’ll be able to share some of what I learned during my sabbatical with friends and colleagues, and that those lessons will result in positive changes to my work and to our organizational culture. But first I need to listen, and understand the successes and challenges that my colleagues have had while I’ve been away. And most importantly, I need to find a way to show my gratitude, which, especially in these last days, is immense.


3 thoughts on “Where do we start?

  1. Stufen

    Wie jede Blüte welkt und jede Jugend
    Dem Alter weicht, blüht jede Lebensstufe,
    Blüht jede Weisheit auch und jede Tugend
    Zu ihrer Zeit und darf nicht ewig dauern.
    Es muß das Herz bei jedem Lebensrufe
    Bereit zum Abschied sein und Neubeginne,
    Um sich in Tapferkeit und ohne Trauern
    In andre, neue Bindungen zu geben.
    Und jedem Anfang wohnt ein Zauber inne,
    Der uns beschützt und der uns hilft, zu leben.

    Wir sollen heiter Raum um Raum durchschreiten,
    An keinem wie an einer Heimat hängen,
    Der Weltgeist will nicht fesseln uns und engen,
    Er will uns Stuf’ um Stufe heben, weiten.
    Kaum sind wir heimisch einem Lebenskreise
    Und traulich eingewohnt, so droht Erschlaffen,
    Nur wer bereit zu Aufbruch ist und Reise,
    Mag lähmender Gewöhnung sich entraffen.

    Es wird vielleicht auch noch die Todesstunde
    Uns neuen Räumen jung entgegen senden,
    Des Lebens Ruf an uns wird niemals enden…
    Wohlan denn, Herz, nimm Abschied und gesunde!

    Hermann Hesse

    For those who are not speaking the Language of the poets and thinkers a trial of an translation, it’s a pity that the quality of the english translation is clearly inferior to the german original (and my poor english abilities will Not help either)


    as every blossom fades
    and all youth sinks into old age,
    so every life’s design, each flower of wisdom,
    attains its prime and cannot last forever.
    the heart must submit itself courageously
    to life’s call without a hint of grief,
    a magic dwells in each beginning,
    protecting us, telling us how to live.

    high purposed we shall traverse realm on realm,
    cleaving to none as to a home,
    the world of spirit wishes not to fetter us
    but raise us higher, step by step.
    scarce in some safe accustomed sphere of life
    have we establish a house, then we grow lax;
    only he who is ready to journey forth
    can throw old habits off.

    maybe death’s hour too will send us out new-born
    towards undreamed-lands, maybe life’s call to us will never find an end…
    courage my heart, take leave and fare thee well!

    The Phrase “A magic dwells in each beginning, protecting us, telling us how to live.” will help you through the First days. I like this Poem very much, it is a Little guideline helping to remember to invent yourself new and look at your live from time to time from an outer point of view and question it, preventing to get to lax.
    Maybe as a Little Literatur the “Glasperlenspiel” (“glassbeadgame”) is very helpfull and also a little Hard to read.

    Sending you the best wishes for the next realms and steps of your journée!


    • Wolf, you never cease to surprise and amaze me. This is just beautiful, and just what I needed. Thank you so much for sharing this (especially the translation, since you know the extent of my German…!) and for the support and encouragement you are giving me. Have I mentioned that I miss you? 🙂 I will take this poem back to work with me and keep it, and you, in my mind. Merci mille fois, pour tout.

  2. Pingback: I guess it all adds up to joy in the end… | Terrifically Lost

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