Another thread of the complex adaptive system that is my life is anthropology. I have been a paid anthropologist for twelve years. I have invested many years of study and effort in my career, and as I have written before, have an incredibly deep attachment to being an anthropologist.
I have had some really bad years where I worked for an agency in love with the idea of employing an anthropologist, but with no idea of what to do with one. I did this for 4 ½ years. Turned up for work day after day, with no real idea what I was supposed to be doing. Half the time, I fluffed around doing not very much at all and feeling suicidal.
Then, last year, I my life changed and I went back to my old agency. In November I was rewarded with a promotion. I love the mix of management and fieldwork that I have in my job. Quite simply, most aspects of my job, I love.
But something very different is happening in my partner’s life. With the potential to wreak havoc on my job – and my career.
The long and short of it is: my partner’s job might disappear after his agency has a restructure. Most probably, he will lose the position he’s in and be placed in a random policy officer position in the agency’s head office. Which will destroy his soul: he loves his job, which like mine, is a mixture of management and hands-on.
So he’s applying for jobs in South Australia.
And now he has an interview.
They’re flying him down to Adelaide next week. (If you’re in the US or NZ reading this, get onto Google Earth and type in ‘Alice Springs’ – check it out. Then type in ‘Adelaide’ … you’ll get some idea that flying someone that far for an interview is probably serious).
For me this is scary. Not that the prospect of moving to South Australia is scary – but the prospect of giving up my job is.
Thus we come to massive attachment. Extreme attachment – to my job. I haven’t even started working my way through the attachment around finally achieving recognition in my career (and a great salary) and now the fear of walking into … nothing.
My profession is one where employment opportunities exist for those prepared to live in the Northern and remote Australia. You can’t just rock up at any town and get a job as an anthropologist.
There is the opportunity of anthropological consultancy work. This means I would basically work for myself and be prepared to be away from home a lot more than I am. For weeks at a time.
I have no idea whether I’m prepared for any of this. I’m feeling as if it’s all too soon, too fast and I’m a passenger on the river that is my life.
And then there are the possibilities it opens up: running my own business, working from home, travelling to far north Queensland, the Kimberley, the Top End… Time to deepen my study of yoga and psychology … Time to just be.
And then there is what I will lose: the job that I love, my financial independence (at the outset), moving away from my wonderful town, my friends, the colleagues I value. Leaving the country (as in the landscape) which I am part of and love so deeply. This is my apmere*, now.
I don’t know what to feel – equal parts excitement and dread. Fear.
But how ironic is it, really?
I have just given up my attachment to teaching at the gym, my attachment to teaching yoga – given them up and let them flow away.
Now, I am being asked to step off into the void and give up almost everything.
The same lesson, but straight to the core of my being.
This time, I don’t know if I can surrender.
*Apmere (pronounced up-mair-rah, is Arrernte for country, land, and home).