Career change is ultimately about loss. It's no surprise that the root meaning of choice is 'to cut off' - we are cutting off the alternative. In the context of career change, this often means cutting off part of our old lives in order to start anew.
Humans have to do this in many different areas of their lives, of course, and this poem, Walking Away by C Day-Lewis, describes this beautifully as he watches his son go into school. I find it unbearably moving.
And I know in my own work with clients that the same words apply to career change too. A process of letting go is needed for us to move forward, but its necessity makes it no less painful.
This is my testimony to those who are in this painful situation now. If this is you, can you find the courage and compassion to let go of your past and embrace an uncertain future?
Can your love be found in the letting go?
This poem first appeared in the colleciton The Gate and Other Poems, published in 1962. It is dedicated to Day-Lewis's first son, Sean.
It is eighteen years, almost to the day -
A sunny day with leaves just turning,
The touch-lines new ruled - since I watched you play
Your first game of football, then, like a satellite
Wrenched from its orbit, go drifting away
Behind a scatter of boys. I can see
You walking away from me towards the school
With the pathos of a half-fledged thing set free
Into a wilderness, the gait of one
Who finds no path where the path should be.
That hesitant figure, eddying away
Like a winged seed loosened from its parent stem,
Has something I can never quite grasp to convey
About nature's give and take - the small, the scorching
Ordeals which fire one's irresolute clay.
I have had worse partings but none that so
Gnaws at my mind still. Perhaps it is roughly
Saying what God alone could perfectly show -
How selfhood begins with a walking away,
And love is proved in the letting go.