A little over a year ago, I moved to a small town. I have felt ready, viscerally, deep in my intuitive being, to finally settle into a place and build something after twenty adult of years of constant shifting and change. I chose a beautiful, comfortable town in one of the most stunning regions of Colorado’s mountains, planning to open a modest strength and conditioning studio. I have been so happy here so far and have felt affirmed in my choices.
The path toward starting my business, however, has been difficult from the get-go. Very difficult to find a space in a town with as-of-yet quite limited commercial development, money already running low, the timeline looking to be perhaps a year longer than I was hoping.
And in the midst of this worry and doubt, an email shows up in my inbox from an old employer I had in one of my early careers, offering me the chance to return to temporary but very lucrative and enjoyable work for them, traveling for the better part of this upcoming year. A thrill. My heartbeat quickens. So many times over the past seven or eight years, stalled out, looking for a lifeline, desperate for a change or a fat paycheck or usually both, I have hoped for this kind of offer. A guarantee. Stack up some cash, enjoy a different view than where I’ve been, adventure, new experiences and lots of fun.
I think, why don’t I put off the business. See if some real estate has opened up a year from now. Pad my bank account, go play before I lock myself down in business ownership. And perhaps between now and then, as the wheels of life keep turning, my goals and desires will have changed and I won’t even be wanted to pursue this studio thing any more. Win-win.
And yet, after those first dizzying words to myself, a stronger sense arrives. Stay put. Stay loyal to your growth. Get through this hard part for once. Don’t flee. Don’t be pushed around by these winds from elsewhere. Opportunity usually arrives as a route to you filling someone else’s need — as well as, hopefully, your own.
Opportunity for me, in my developmental micro culture of public school lessons, common narratives, liberal arts college and an utter glut of possibilities for the direction my life might take, has typically taken the form of a beacon. If an opportunity arises, it’s a sort of sign. It’s a chance — don’t miss it! It’s a guidepost. Follow it! Opportunity doesn’t have to arrive, but it came anyway, so you have to take advantage of it. Or else it’s like sending away the only meal you might ever get.
But from where I am in life right now, and in light of the choices I’ve recently made, which I’ve been building up to for a long time, I’m reimagining my metaphors for opportunity. I’m exploring the possibility of seeing opportunity from a different viewpoint.
What if opportunity can also be a reminder to us that we are already making choices and a chance to recommit to those choices.
I know that a lot of the time folks aren’t making choices, and an opportunity is quite literally an escape hatch — like if you’re in a job you despise, and someone takes a liking to you and asks you to come work for them at their puppy rescue facility for twice the salary of what you’re getting now, and all you have to do is help socialize the puppies by playing with them. It obviously wouldn’t be reasonable to “recommit” to the job you hate or say, “No, I think I’m going to see this choice I made through, even though I only made it because I didn’t have any other feasible options, and the option you’re presenting sounds way better.”
But there are times when we are making choices. Good choices. And an opportunity can come in and sort of swirl up the silt. Like if you’re in a committed relationship, and an opportunity arises to have a liaison outside the relationship. Or you’re in a line of work you chose and like and built up around you, and the opportunity arises to try something different.
I’m certainly not saying a person in these situations should reject the opportunity just because they’ve made choices or are committed to something else. What I’m trying to suggest is that an opportunity perhaps needn’t be taken just because it’s there, and perhaps opportunity can function as a re-assessment place. Where am I? Why am I here? Am I still committed? Do I like my choices? And if so, the opportunity, even if passed up on, can serve a very important purpose in reifying our lives. In reminding us that the situation we’re in at this very moment is itself an opportunity that we have taken and made something of. Or are in the process of making something of.
And an opportunity, in any scenario, can definitely serve as a reminder to pause, now and then, and remember that we are alive, and we are engaged in choice, in this is a wonderful and magical thing. A reminder that we are free. And we are always choosing, to some extent, to be where we are, or maybe even just to be at all. And that existence, synonymous with the ability to act, is marvelous.