Creating a New Memory

It’s June 1st, 2023 and I’m staying in a hotel in Virginia, halfway between my brother’s house in Charleston, SC and my new homebase in Dayton, OH. It dawned on me, while basking in the cleansing sounds of a singing bowl meditation, that I’ve been dwelling on the memory of a traumatic and unhappy moment that occurred to me on March 3rd. Whenever I replay the moment when my supervisor fired me, I feel awful. My body feels all the tightness and wrongness of the moment.

This morning, though, I asked, “What if that truly was a misperception? What if what I heard was that I was wrong, I was rejected, I needed to be humbled? What if Ray was actually thanking me, regretfully sending me off to a better situation, acknowledging me for taking a stand for excellence and humbly freeing me to receive a new and better-suited environment for my skills?”

Today I realized that I have the power to remember a different memory! I have the power to interpret his letter from a whole new angle! I think I’ll choose that!

Here’s my re-viewing of that moment:

Ray calls me into his office after my transformative walk in Palm Canyon with the exuberant and grateful fourth grade Junior Rangers. He has Ranger Carmen hand me a piece of paper that says, “Separation with Fault”. Well, whose fault? He says, “Regina, I want to thank you for your 8 years of service to the park and immediately send you forth to do your good work elsewhere. Sadly, I’ve realized that your character, your willingness to express your true feelings, and your high standards of excellence just don’t fit our current direction. I wanted to let you go to make other choices before you get dragged down any further in the low vibration I am generating during the next phase of park management. I am not even aware of the details of the programs you have offered, the volunteers you have mentored, and the creative problem-solving you have done as a seasonal employee at the Visitor Center. That’s not my primary concern. What’s more important is that I protect the egos of certain people because they are the ones who resonate with my management style. I have noticed that it’s getting harder and harder for you to keep quiet about my pace of getting projects done and my preference to have other organizations do park programs. There’s just too much talk about Night Sky programs and too many requests for more of them! We just don’t have the capacity to expand what we offer, and I know that’s what you would love to do. I’ve thought about this long and hard and have concluded that I just can’t let you squeeze your creative, energetic spirit any longer. I’m going to have to spare you going into the Visitor Center again, to witness the purging of all the good work you have done. So, please give me your keys and we’ll escort you out. Go in peace, and thank you for tolerating this incompatible environment for as long as you have.”

He hands me a beautiful wood box. In it are colorful notes, photos, cards, and a couple of index cards folded into tiny envelopes. The tiny envelopes hold smaller folded notes. There’s a crumpled piece of tissue paper that wraps a piece of chunky blue chalk. “These are well wishes and messages of gratitude from volunteers, former staff, local students, and even a few visitors. They all want to join me in sending you forth with appreciation for the deep and lasting impact you have had on them and thousands of other visitors who had the pleasure of working with you and receiving your guidance, knowledge, and inspiration. I am so sorry that I won’t have the privelege of enjoying your work as they have. I’m just too busy and focused on petty things to support you at your level of innovation and productiveness as expressed by your colleagues and customers. Blessings on your journey, Regina.”

I finger the box and its contents. Tears fill my eyes as I take in the contrasting emotions and meanings of this moment. The irony of being let go and thanked at the same time washes over me. I give Ray one last look of puzzled gratitude and walk out into my next phase of life.

My reworking of that scene is a work in progress. I do, however, feel lighter and freer and more ready to receive my new occupation. I’ll keep working on this!

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