Common Future is keeping the Uncharted office in Denver, and they used it as the location for an in-person retreat a few weeks ago. It was the first time that the two teams were together as one, and despite no longer being officially on the team, I was invited to stop by for a lunch break. It was a warm reunion to see former Uncharted colleagues and meet Common Future people I had only known as faces in a Zoom square for the many months that we orchestrated our merger. When lunch ended, everyone jumped into an afternoon team-building session. They were continuing forward, and I quickly realized it was my time to leave. I slipped out of the room, down the empty hall, and walked out the door of our office for the last time.
In reflecting on the last 10 years at Uncharted, it’s clear that my identity has been wrapped up in the work, in being productive, in building a team and nurturing a culture, in feeling the responsibility of it all, and there were so many times when I walked out of that office invigorated with a mind that was spinning about our next move. But on this day, as I left with everyone else still inside, as I wandered out into the sunshine of a Tuesday afternoon with no plans and no professional responsibilities…it was the physical embodiment of what I had known conceptually: that I was walking away and letting go.
The absence of any responsibility for the organization felt like a strange lightness for me, almost like that feeling of leaving the house and sensing you’re forgetting something, but not knowing exactly what that might be.
Maybe this is the phantom feeling of a mind trained over the years to be responsible and thorough and productive. Maybe the work now is to apprentice into this strange lightness. Maybe that undertaking shouldn’t be considered work at all, but rather should be perceived more as a receiving than a doing. I don’t know. It seems both as hard and as easy as what Mary Oliver says in one of her poems: “You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”