One Step Back, Two Steps Forward

by Tom Swift

When I look back the word that comes up is forward.

This year I moved forward better. That may sound like a small thing and perhaps for many people it is. For me, moving forward has never been easy and often it’s difficult.

For one thing, I have not always been good at knowing what forward means. Or I have thought I have known but found out that I had allowed the way forward to be defined by someone else. The worst is the nether world  in which I am fiercely unsure, able to see more than one way forward, and having the rationale for more than one these alternative avenues, but not clarity about which one would be best.

Let’s get specific: early this year I was offered a promotion at work. A promotion is clearly forward, right? I thought so. I took it. Couldn’t not. Why would I want to stay in my current job when the chance to move ahead was right before me? There seemed to be no downside.

Except the job wasn’t right for me. It was a good job. A useful job. I was fortunate to have been offered the job. But it wasn’t the right job for me.

About four months after taking it, I walked into my boss’s office and announced that I didn’t want it anymore.

I wanted my old position.

I wanted to go back.

In other words, not only had I decided I didn’t want to move forward, at least in terms of occupational hierarchy, in that moment I took a step in the opposite direction. Except, forward can be defined in different ways, as I learned anew. The act of admitting that this wasn’t the right fit, at least in this case, at least for me, coming to the conclusion in a short but reasonable time-frame that the common notion of forward for many wasn’t forward for me, seems to have been a seminal moment.

It soon followed from that action that, after wrestling for more than a year about where I should next live, I quickly found a new place to call home; after contemplating for months leaving a community that, after more than four years, was no longer serving me, I took that step; and a longtime project I had at various times thought I might abandon, or be forced to … I finally found a path to complete. Coincidence? Perhaps. I wonder.

What I think is clear is that forward means taking steps in directions that your own compass determines, not that of others.

Too, sometimes moving forward is less about grasping for something additional and more about letting go of something you already carry.

So many aspects of life are related, connected, even if we don’t have the wherewithal to see.

More than anything, moving forward means honoring the energy inside. This is much easier said than done in my experience. Certainly, I am far from perfect at it. But I do believe I am better than I used to be. For that reason, more than any other, this seems to have been a good year.