Kairos Calling – Act iii of life
I’m sitting on a small squat chair on the ocean’s edge. The sunset over Turks and Caicos is over, but there is still enough light to see crashing waves far in the distance. The water is calm at my feet, the turquoise waters of Grace Bay gently rolling against my legs. Grace Bay, a fitting name for what I have found here.
Towards the end of May, I began to feel what can only be described as something pulling at my soul. It is a mixture of being excited, scared, humbled, and a deep ache for something I do not know, yet. I have felt this way a few times before, and it is often accompanied by the sense of urgency pushed by the ticking of a clock that I feel, not hear. This clock measures time by significant life events, not seconds. The Greeks referred to this time as Kairos, or “the right moment.” It measures the important events and life shifts, unlike Chronos, which measures based on the sun’s orbit. This feeling and ticking was a big surprise as these usually came before a major life shift. These shifts were generally expected, but the last had happened barely six months before. It was too soon to happen again.
During these times, there is a sense of being led and guided toward what will happen next. Some call it the Still Small Voice; some call it knowing, I call it Connecting. This feeling comes with a need for deep reflection and meditation, and surprisingly, I recently put prayer back into this mix after a decade-long hiatus. The first time I felt this, it was scary, like some monster hiding under the bed. A sense of dread that disastrous things were about to derail my life. Now, I recognize it as an old friend who shows up to guide me through a challenge. There will be some pain and growth; it will be difficult. It is also empowering. Afterward, I tend to look back and feel grateful for the guidance. It often feels like I am skirting disaster during these times, and the only thing that kept it from all falling apart was the guidance down the path.
Six months before, when I was working at the Center for the Arts in Asheville, there was a sense that I needed to leave my job. A job that I had worked very hard to get and be successful in. I loved it for the season I was there, but it had become a strain on myself and my family. I did not know what the next step would be. Before leaving this job, I knew I must wait for a conference involving women from all over the country who come together to discuss the significant changes in their lives and how they adapted to them, the Morphmoms. I had already turned in my notice before this conference, but I knew there was something there that I was being led towards. It was at this conference that I met the CEO of Bespoke Travel. Within a month, I was their Manager of Operations, a job I love.
When the Kairos clock started ticking in my ear again at the end of May. We had moved into a beautiful house in a neighborhood we love. I was also the Provost of a nonprofit university in Turks and Caicos and the Operations Manager at Bespoke Luxury Travel. Education and travel, two of the things I love the most. I adored both my jobs. While the changes over the past three years had taken their toll on my family, it felt like we were doing well. We were finally in a place where we were comfortable. Everything felt like it was moving in the right direction, so why would something need to change? Whatever it was, it felt bigger than some of the pushings in the past.
Looking at life as a play, I did not realize that I was starting on Act III. The first two Acts were clearly defined and very different from each other. The third act of a play is often the turning point. We had moved across the country during the pandemic; we had struggled in our marriage and personally. But, everything felt stable. It was becoming apparent that I had been set up for the beginning of the next act, this was not the happy ending act, this was the act where the drama and the action hit its pinnacle. I thought I was done with all that.
It was on May 30th that I went to a meeting with Bespoke Travel and learned that bookings with us had suddenly dropped dramatically over a few months. Even though I was busy, the rest of the company was not. This was happening everywhere as people were unsure about the economy, AI could now create itineraries with the click of a button, and many clients were no longer booking with luxury companies. As the last employee hired, I was also the first to be furloughed.
After the meeting, I was sitting in a bathtub trying to figure out what to do next, the ticking of the Krainos clock suddenly felt overwhelming. I spent most of that day meditating and listening. It was rewarding and beautiful. My job as a Provost is lovely, but it leaves room in my life for other options and does not meet our needs financially. I spent days reading, walking, and “connecting.”
Within a week, things were clarified somewhat. My life is missing the ability to help others, including myself. I knew what the “next right step” would be. As I receive free education, I enrolled in two doctoral programs, Theology and Psychology. Psychology to help myself and others deconstruct harmful beliefs and rebuild something new, solid, and fulfilling. Theology, for the same reasons. I don’t know where this part of my journey is going yet. I just know that I am on one. In Greek myth, Kairos is often depicted as running with wings on his feet, carrying a sword, and having long hair on the front and bald on the back. Why?
As Pindar’s first Olympian Ode states:
“And who are you? Time who subdues all things.
Why do you stand on tip-toe? I am ever running.
And why do you have a pair of wings on your feet? I fly with the wind.
And why do you hold a razor in your right hand? As a sign to men that I am sharper than any sharp edge.
And why does your hair hang over your face? For him who meets me to take me by the forelock.
And why, in Heaven’s name, is the back of your head bald? Because none whom I have once raced by on my winged feet will now, though he wishes it sore, take hold of me from behind.”
This is uncharted territory for me, and it helps to write about it. I plan to write what I learn over the next few months, years, or however long it takes. I hope to reflect on them someday, or maybe they can help someone else as they are on their own journey.