The decisive transformation occurred at my 62nd birthday and not at one of those milestone years. That's when I adopted Ouroboros as my new identity: Ouroboros, the snake who consumes herself to recreate herself continually. For me, it was more like shedding skin after skin to find myself under all the skins of accommodation, anger, and fear.
I became serious about questions I had been asking myself for years: What do I really want? How badly do I want it? What am I willing to sacrifice?
Mainly I want to be warm. Every winter in Northern New Mexico was harder than the last. I didn't get enough exercise so I started feeling sick a lot of the time. When I was cold, I became a potato because I didn't like to leave the house. I didn't go outside, I didn't get exercise, I felt depressed, and I gained weight. Mainly I had more headaches from the lack of exercise, and that was the intolerable part of the winter.
New Mexico is too dry for me. I love the water; I thrive near water. In NM my skin, lips, hair, eyes, hands, digestion, lungs were so dry all the time. The worst was my nose. I had sores in my nose from the dryness unless we had several days in a row of rain--obviously, a rare occurrence.
And all that complaining about the altitude. I complained about being up at 7000 feet above sea level for 29 years, since 1986.
Not enough oxygen, not enough water. What am I doing here? If I had the opportunity, did I have the courage to pursue this move? Finally, at 62 years old, the answer was a resounding YES.
At that time, during the spring of 2015, I was still enjoying my job in Santa Fe. The only two things wrong with it were that it was not in Hawaii and the clueless University administration. This administration periodically required us to do things against professional best practices--actually more in line with what might be called worst practices. But we were ignored most of the time and I was able to do my work in relative peace and obscurity.
Then that changed and the clueless administration was actively tossing library services out the window. In July, it became intolerable.
|Fogelson Library, July 2015: A pool table, part of the gaming center in the new Student Union. On the main level of the academic library.|
I saw a counselor to discuss things, and I began to understand just how much Ouroboros had done for me. With each session, I felt more relaxed and certain that what I wanted--but also what I needed--was to move on: to leave New Mexico, and to be warm, near water, at sea level. I started applying for jobs in places that stay warm in the winter.
The new me: centered, courageous, decisive, adventurous, and living in a way that does not compromise my professional values.