There are times in your life when it seems nothing much happens; you just go on with your life, your well-established routine, day after day, month after month, year after year. Deep down you know you’d like a few things to change, but you are too lazy or too scared to take the initiative.
Then one major change comes, and things begin to unravel, and suddenly you find yourself in the midst of great disruption, that will change your life forever.
Only a year ago, my life was already changing. Change had begun in the summer of 2018, when I was faced with the end of my career as it was, and faced two options: one, to resist it, and be sorry for myself; the other, to make the most of the occasion and trade money for time, a luxury I sorely missed. I did the latter. My executive career of more than 20 years was there, and I was proud of it, but it no longer thrilled me – constant business trips exhausted me, international seminars had a taste of déjà vu and the corporate ladder no longer beckoned. It had been great but now I wanted different things, especially more time to dedicate myself to them, and to myself.
So, I embraced change and began working part-time – a major change for the best in my life.
A year ago, as I was already enjoying the fruits of this change, it dawned on me it was not enough. There were other aspects of my life that needed sorting out, such as a decade-long relationship that had begun as a passionate love story, of whose fire now only cold embers remained. No-one is entirely innocent or responsible for the failure of a relationship, and over the years I have certainly changed, but the person beside me became somebody else; nothing remained from the loving, passionate, attentive, romantic man I had known and fallen in love with. Another person had taken his place, a bitter, depressed, aloof person who said he loved me but showed the opposite. At a certain point I knew I would have to break up this relationship that was doing more harm than good, as much as it cost me. And I did, and it was yet another major change in my life.
Then came the pandemic, and so many things changed in my head. The apartment I was considering renting – or even selling – became my haven, and I knew for sure I wouldn’t want to let go of it ; for nothing would I now miss the daily sunsets from my window, each one different from the previous one, each one more beautiful than the rest. And then it was all so clear – we’d move house in Lisbon, and close another door to the past; move away from the rugby club that has given us so many joys but also so much heartache and worry, especially in the first months of this year with Afonso’s accident followed by a highly complicated recovery and Pedro’s concussion that gave us all a frightful scare. Maybe it’s really time to close that door and make another huge change in the boys’ lives – and mine.
The pandemic itself has changed so many things around us. It has made us value the smaller things and enjoy the present day, not making too many plans for the future. I feel we all go through life, now, looking forward to the day when we will “go back to normal”, whatever that may mean. Even if the day comes – and I wholeheartedly believe it will – when we no longer need to fear a hug, may bring our shoes back inside our homes, and no longer have to walk around in a mask and permanently disinfect our hands, life will never go back to what it was; if only because of the lessons learned during this unique period when the world shut down, and then opened up again, in fear, simply because it couldn’t stay shut any longer or the economy would totally collapse .
Looking back to last summer, some changes in my life were predictable, even if I didn’t want to see them at the time; others were unimaginable. Good or bad, change is always an opportunity to grow, to learn, to adapt. To become humbler and to find new paths to follow. Change is life, and life is change. We cannot deny it; ultimately, we should rejoice in it, because changing means you’re very much alive.