Back in my graduate school days, I earned a little extra money working as a special education bus assistant. Our route was a rural one so that meant a semi-lengthy country ride twice daily as we headed to and from the first and last student’s home. During these peaceful rides on an empty bus, I often found myself daydreaming and watching the cows in the fields along the way. As a result, I developed a strange fascination and endearment for cows that I still hold to this day.
A few months ago, I was thrilled to see cows appear almost right in my backyard for a few weeks. But then, much to my disappointment, they disappeared again. What I now understand is that there are several fields behind us, separated with fences, and that the cattle thrive best when they are rotated from field to field so that there is always plenty of fresh grazing space. I can’t see the other fields, but I’m hoping the farmer sends them our way again soon. My dogs and I miss our companions.
As my neighbor and I stood in our backyards watching the cows one day, she asked if I had noticed another group of cattle on a nearby road that we both travel frequently. She commented on how frail they appeared and how their grazing area seemed to be nothing but mud and weeds. Since our conversation, I have paid particular attention and she’s absolutely right. These animals are in a fenced area that is severely lacking and as a result they do not appear to be healthy. Ironically, right across the road is a beautiful field full of green grass that would likely make a wonderful setting for them, if they could only make their way there. I wonder if they know the grass really is greener across the street?
Having now been in my new career for over a year, I have come to realize that for quite a while, I was like those malnourished cows. Metaphorically, I continued to graze in an area that was not satisfying because I didn’t realize there were other options. I wasn’t aware that there really were greener pastures available to me or that others were healthy and thriving in them. I had always heard that the grass always “seems” greener, but we may need to simply water our own grass. Because I chose to be a positive thinker, I believed I could turn my muddy mess into a green pasture and the fear of leaving the familiar made me try for far too long.
In recent days, I have had several conversations with friends who are transitioning in their careers. Some are changing positions and making lateral moves, but some are making big changes and leaving jobs they’ve held for more than a decade. In every situation the change is occurring because of concerns over burnout and emotional fatigue. And in every situation, much like mine, the change has been necessary for a long time but they tried to make it work for fear of the unknown. The thought of being in a new pasture is scary and it’s not guaranteed to be better, but we never know if we don’t try.
I love the quote, “You are not a tree, you can move”, but now I’m thinking I might change it up a bit.
“You are not a cow, you don’t need a farmer to move you to a different pasture.”
I don’t know what move, if any, is on your radar today, but I hope that you find comfort and courage in knowing that you are not stuck where you are. You can move. And if that doesn’t work out, you can move again. You might be incredibly surprised at how your soul is nourished again when you start grazing in a new pasture.
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1