Dog walking at crossroads

My ten year old daughter has her first job.

She has been hired by two of our neighbors to walk their dogs and check on their houses while they are on a week long vacation.

It’s seven days of responsibility. Seven days of to-dos. Seven days of her very own money in her very own little pocket.

It’s day one today. She woke up so excited to get to work, an hour earlier than any other morning since the last day of school six weeks ago. She checked and double-checked that she had the house keys with her, attaching them to the belt loop on her denim Bermuda shorts for extra security. She asked me before I poured my coffee if we could head over to check on the dog. I said in a minute. She asked me as I sipped my first cup if we could go. I said in a minute. She asked me as I checked in on work emails if we could go. So we went.

She meticulously opened the neighbor’s side door, talking me through the process every step of the way. This is how you open the gate. This is the dog’s potty spot. This is how the key works, sliding it into the lock and pausing nervously for one split second when it seemed to stick a bit before finally turning and opening.

I observed from afar, letting her do everything on her own. She talked me through her to-do list, mentally checking off each task as she walked from room to room. She walked through the empty house without hesitation, calling to her charge, giving her love and morning biscuits. She checked her water and carefully looped her leash around her neck. I stood to the side, just watching. Just taking it all in.

These seven days are important ones. This ten year old girl has been handed the world. She looks at every step with precision, every detail is an important one. She puts her heart and soul into every task on her to-do list and will do it with the exact same level of enthusiasm and consistency tomorrow. And on day four. And on day seven.

I am at a bit of a crossroads with my business right now. I have been doing the same thing for more than fifteen years and as I look to the twenty or so more that lay ahead between me and retirement (whatever that means these days), it’s apparent that I should be doing more. Doing it differently. Doing something else. Finding something that I want to do each and every day with enthusiasm and consistency and precision. Something that makes me want to wake up early and stay up late. Something that speaks to my true calling, whatever that is. It’s not easy when there is a mortgage to contribute to and vacations to dream about and savings to build. It’s not easy when the unknown lies ahead of you and years of experience and success lay behind you. It’s not easy to walk in a new direction when you’ve run in one for so long.

These days are important ones. 

My dad retired a few years ago after a lifetime of working in the same field. He was a very accomplished engineer, heralded by colleagues, successfully building a good, stable life in a new country with language barriers and cultural stumbling blocks and nothing to rely on but the workings of his brain. He stayed the course his entire life. Working for the next pay check, the next promotion, the next salary milestone. And when he retired, I looked back on his career as a successful one. He did great things. He never called in sick. He paid off his house and put his kids through college.

These days are important ones.

I am watching my girl navigate her first job, hoping she will find the same passion and interest with the next one. And the one after that. And the one twenty years down the road. I am sitting at the midway point of my own career, wondering which way to go next and nervously anticipating what’s to come, or not. I am watching my parents at the end of their own trajectories, curiously observing their days and whether or not they wake up with anticipation. With excitement. With a ten year old’s heart. With the energy of day one. All over again. 

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