Rumble: The Sabbatical - The Day After

Ending this sabbatical once more feels like jumping into the void. Once more it feels like I am ending one period in my life, and starting a new one. Lemme see, for the… sixth time already :

  • After working in a digital research company as a graphical expert, I stopped what I did to start my civil service at a university lab, as a software developer. People said I was nuts to give up my well paying job simply just because I refused to go to the army. I preferred doing a $150/month job for 20 months, rather than doing 10 months of army service (with all living expenses paid for).
  • After 20 months, I returned to the company as a system engineer. People said I was nuts as I did not have a degree in IT nor in system engineering, so how could I make a career in that?
  • Two years later, I started in an inter-bank company to manage their IT network. People said it was nuts, as by then I was well established within my previous company and had my career all laid out in front of me. So why change?
  • Two years later, I stopped working all together, to write a book, and to organize an expedition to the Antarctic. This really freaked out friends and family. How do you mean, you will stop working. For how long? To do what? Go to the Antarctic???
  • Two years later, I started in this ‘line of business’: the humanitarian work. People said “So you give up a career to help people you have never seen before? In the midst of nowhere, in the midst of danger? Surrounded by deceases and people pointing guns at you?”
  • After moving through a number of humanitarian organisations, I got into my current organisation, by coincidence… And.. stayed there. (Eleven years already. Me, who never worked for a company longer than three years. Ever. This does say something my current employer, no?)

No wonder that people said I was nuts to give up my director’s position, my diplomatic status, and (in short)my professional life to start this sabbatical. And the same people now say "How come, you are going back to work, and you still don’t know what you will be doing, not even where you will be based?"

Somewhere they have a point in the last bit though.. In January I informed my employer I was coming back, but wanted a different position than the one I left in Dubai… Now, 10 days before starting, I still don’t know exactly what I will do. A test again for my philosophy of ‘trusting in destiny’. Will this pull me through once more?

If you take an objective look from a distance, here is the situation

  • After one year of absence in a fast moving organisation, like ours, it is as if you start all over again.
  • I will certainly have a new job, a new supervisor, a new terms of reference, and probably will do something I have not done before. “What” I don’t know yet. They will tell me when I arrive.
  • 10 days before leaving, I still do not know where I will work. I only know I have to report for duty at our HQ in Rome. The rest of the information will follow. Probably it will be something that involves regular traveling.
  • I don't know where I will be based (can be literally anywhere in the world).
  • I don't know what to pack in terms of clothing, accessories.
  • I don’t know if I will be in one place long enough, to set up a second home, you know, my own ‘living base’. ‘Normally’, I would pack my crates with the minimum furniture, cooking utensils, books, different clothes, all the nice to have stuff (my personal radio equipment, some IT stuff, video recorder, tapes, DVDs,…). But can’t do that. Don’t know where I will be going. Or if I will be staying long enough to set up a nest.

And it does not bother me one bit that "I don't know". Feels like jumping off the cliff -again-, trusting the parasail will open up. “Yuuuuhuuuu!” (as one of my dearest friends always says)..

So,.. ten days from now, I will leave with a backpack, a case with the minimum tools for work and a small bag with books. I will kiss Tine and the girls goodbye. And get onto that plane.

I am ready to jump…

PS: Maybe just one question: Does a parasail have an emergency chute too?


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