Sunday, August 05, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Decision


Deciding to commit to the climb. Grafton Rd, Mt Victoria, July 2007

Back in March 2002 Hamish and I were living in Auckland, the city where I had grown up. We had a little one bedroom apartment in Ponsonby, a hot inner-city suburb, that we'd bought shortly after we got married. Hamish was working for a corporate staging company and I had been promoted to a fairly senior role in my office, the large regional branch of a significant government department. Life was good, and we could have continued that way indefinitely, if it weren't for my need to always be working towards something.

I had reached a stage in my career where it was time to make a decision. If we were going to stay in Auckland I had two options: either apply to join the management pool, or go private and become a client advocate. Neither option particularly appealed. The only alternative was move to Wellington and become one of those policy wonks. To me the biggest obstacle was my commitment to my husband. How could I expect Hamish to leave the job he loved to follow me?

Life is funny. I an still remember the exact conversation Hamish and I had as we were driving through Cox's Bay on the way home from a visit to my parents. I mentioned that there were two three-month secondments on offer in Wellington. Hamish told me to apply for them. The bottom fell out of what I had previously thought of as my safe little world. I pointed out that if I moved to Wellington I wasn't likely to be coming back. Hamish didn't have a problem with that. Turned out that there was a whole new world underneath the floor of the old one.

Less than a month later I was flatting in Wellington, working as a business relationship advisor, and making a concerted effort to get to know my new city. Every two weeks I commuted back to Ponsonby for the weekend, doing the 'suit run' with numerous other working-week bureaucrats.

On the day I arrived I found my way to Island Bay, to the house of the Buddhist woman who had kindly agreed to allow me to stay with her for my first few days. I wandered down the hill to a fish and chip shop, then down to the beach on the Southern coast to eat dinner. As I sat there watching the seagulls fly past and the waves wash in, and as I looked out to the Orongarongas, I knew I wasn't going back to Auckland. It was that simple.

On my first day of work I wandered down the Terrace, looked at the Beehive, and knew I had arrived. This felt like the centre of something important. Three months later Hamish had quit his job, rented out our apartment, and we had moved into a rented house in Brooklyn with a panoramic view of the harbour.

Five years on that one decision has triggered a chain of events that has been fundamental to the people that we are now and the way that we live our lives. Hamish ended up working for his dream company, doing his dream job. After a brief flirtation with a couple of other government agencies I ended up back at that same department, where I'm now employed as a senior business analyst on a big project.

After a year and a half we sold our little apartment to buy our villa in Mornington. It was the second house we looked at on our first day of 'checking out the market'. I knew by the time I was a couple of feet in the door that it was the right place. I think this house itself made our decision for us. It ticked all the boxes I had on my mental checklist, then opened its heart to us.

My decision to get to grips with the local dance music scene here led to us becoming friends with a dance party promoter, which then led to Hamish getting his first VJ work. That then led to him getting work with a local band, and in turn to work with a wonderful theatre group. My own desire to give something back to this city led to my involvement in volunteering at the local wildlife sanctuary. Living here was also a catalyst in my getting involved in running and multi-sport, and in my beginning to write again.

Life is a series of decisions, and the big ones can have far-reaching consequences. Nic and Leonie, when faced with a big decision, sold everything and set off to travel around the world. My mother, in her 50s, chose to leave West Auckland for the first time in her life to move to Taranaki.

Making the big decisions is not safe. Any big decision is likely to involve an element of risk. However the big decisions carry the greatest rewards. I know from experience that I can do anything I want, no excuses. I just have to decide that I want whatever it is badly enough.

My biggest question right now is what do I want that badly? I know that the reason I'm feeling so rootless right now is that I have achieved my main goals of the past couple of years. I need to face facts and make some hard decisions. It's that time again.

What will my answer be?

More decision-makers here.

1 comment:

khambagirl said...

It is amazing, isn't it, how one decision affects the path of our life...