As I’ve briefly mentioned on this blog, I’m currently finishing a 3 1/2 month sabbatical (I go back to work in 5 days) from my job which is in the very centre of downtown YYC.
I’ve been anticipating my return now for a couple weeks and think I’m doing an average-to-good job in pacing myself, getting the right headspace and holistically preparing myself for this significant change. But… I’ve just found a problem that I never anticipated.
Nearly every morning I travel downtown to work out at my gym. I usually head down there between 5:30-6am each morning (at the latest 10:00am). My gym is downtown but in a quieter section of the downtown core that has easy access from a main roadway. Whether it’s the time of day I travel, the mode of travel I choose (because I’ve often walked or biked into downtown), or simply the location I was going – I haven’t had to contend with the busyness and anxiety of traffic, people, business, and inner city issues (prostitution, crime, violence, filth) over the past 3 1/2 months.
This afternoon I took my three kids downtown to bring some boxes back to my office and to hang out downtown a bit. My experience – for lack of a better word – was anxiety-ridden. I felt so out of sync with downtown. I was like every vehicle flew by me. Every drunk was planning on attacking me and my kids. Every siren was some type of precognitient response to a personal event. I was panicky.
Now, I’ve never felt this way. I’ve always loved downtown. I love the edge and the grunge. I love the energy and the vitality. I love the people and the possibility and yet I felt utterly overwhelmed today. It bothered me that I had to explain to my kids what the car prowler was doing and how I wanted to make sure our vehicle was safe (Have you ever had to explain to your children about the appropriately safe distance between yourself and a strung out crack user looking to rob a car? You have to be close enough to jump into action in case it’s your vehicle but far enough away so that you’re not obviously watching him and thus, inhibiting his chance of scoring a fix…which usually draws their violent side!) My kids didn’t really get how to use their volume control as they yelled, “So Daddy! Is that THE robber who’s trying to steal people’s stuff!?!”
I realized today that my sabbatical has not just been from work…but also from the inner-city life. I’ve become acclimatized to a different pace of life. I’ve forgotten how the bustle that was once energizing can also be completely debilitating and anxiety inducing. I’m returning to so much more than just a job…I’m really returning to a very different life and pace that – frankly – I’ve enjoyed being away from.