I found out last night that the company has found a new Research Manager to replace me. I had taken the interim assignment to fill a hole in the organization last summer, and have been leading the search, so this was expected. It is a good thing: I've been holding down three full-time jobs at work and have literally been spending 80% of my time managing the Research group, 20% on general management, and nights and weekends on my primary startup business within the business.
At the same time, I've enjoyed the assignment and the people, and I'm going to miss working with them. Research is all about vision, entrepreneurship, networking, creativity, and change: it's a fun mix and attracts a lot of sharp people. I think I'm a good facilitator, mentor, and communicator, and we accomplished a lot and did well for six months.
It's made me realize how hard it's going to be to move on in six months, a year, when my overall assignment here ends. Disconnecting is not my strength: I'd have made a lousy contractor.
On the flip side, I've been reconnecting with some people from way past: I've stuck up correspondence with a few high school and college 'best friends" and a first girl-friend who surfaced through "25-year reunion" gatherings. People's lives turn out differently, no doubt, but there has been a welcome continuity to revisiting my life's passages. It won't devolve to "Broken Flowers" (which, together with "Lost in Translation" makes Bill Murray my archetype for "middle-age emptiness"), but it has helped me to think about how my life has been shaped by others, about the paths not taken, and to put a few demons forever to rest.
Last week, BBC's "Digital Planet" suggested that our physical lives would be displaced by our on-line lives within 10 years. Avatars have more room for social exploration, take less physical effort, are more controllable and less expensive ways to deal with life. While some folks might leap to refuge or escape, I don't believe that most people's physical lives are so dull, troubled, or boring that this makes sense. Mine certainly hasn't been, especially since breaking the envelope two years ago. (And, besides, as LJNet's Social Activity graphs suggest, right, VR networks grow just as tangled as RL.)
My remaining worries relate, instead, to the developing implications of my footloose existence. Every year, I am finding that I have to answer two questions What do I do next?, and How do I let go of now?