We all have choices throughout our lives about staying or moving on. Perhaps the movement within society is one of the biggest defining marks of the way we live now, when families are separated by oceans, when grandparents are no longer part of the extended family, when childcare is a matter for professionals because family members aren’t available.
I’ve been thinking about the moving on angle: that moment when someone decides that they can no longer remain where they are, but for whatever reason must uproot themselves and take up a new job, or live in a bigger house, or – as I did, in a fit of pregnancy madness – go and live beside the sea.
There are jobs in which it seems to matter more when someone moves on, is promoted, or whatever. I well remember the sense of disbelief when my much-loved Primary 6 teacher, as Depute Head the only male teacher in my primary school, left before we became Primary 7 – for we could have expected to have him for the whole two years. Instead, he became Head Teacher of another school. I was bereft. How could he do this? Probably this is what happens in jobs where a close contact with your customers is involved – so who are we talking about here? Teachers, maybe your GP – though this is less likely – your trusted family solicitor, clergy.
It seems to me that in less people-orientated jobs your colleagues might feel a bit fed up at your going, and your boss might feel your loss if you’ve been a valuable member of her team, but in such circumstances it’s an even ball-park: everyone’s in the same game of making their career and most will be wishing they’d got your new job instead of you. But customers are pretty passive when it comes to the career moves of their teacher or their priest/minister/pastor, and as such feel helpless, betrayed even.
Even retiring can produce feelings of guilt (initially anyway) if you remain in the same community, and hear how your replacement is faring – or not. Somehow, we have to learn to live lightly with one another; not to become unduly dependent on someone who is, in the end, only doing a job. But we probably won’t. Why?
Because we’re human. Tough, isn’t it?