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Letting Go Again

I lost an election last night.

I was fortunate enough to be instilled with values of cooperation and community investment as a youth. So when I moved to Minnesota sixteen years ago and discovered the co-ops here I knew I belonged. My working membership quickly turned into a job that sustained me through out my college years and beyond while I struggled to figure out what I want to do with my life. When I left that job to pursue my dream job (which I am still fortunate to have and love) I knew I wasn't ready to let go of my co-op. So I ran for the board of directors and won. Twice. But a third time is not to be.

It hurts to lose suddenly - to feel cut off mid stride. There was so much I was going to do! I felt competent as a board member, enjoyed the work, collaborated well with my fellow directors, and felt I added something beneficial to the pool. And there was so much I was going to do!

But as much as it hurts I don't disagree with events and am looking forward to the silver lining I am sure will show up - once the tears stop flowing. The new directors who were elected are all amazing candidates who will likely bring a lot to the board we didn't even know was missing. And the experienced directors who are currently serving are amazing and will be able to carry on the work that is important to our co-op. Hopefully some of it will also be the work that I think is important. There was so much I was going to do!

Yet, even as my plans and dreams come crashing to the ground I sense a new openness, combined with a bit of "sour grapes" that helps soften the blow. After all, I was ambivalent about running for a third term. There are other things I want to do! New things - different things! And most of all, it felt selfish to run again. Had there not been two open seats I wouldn't have done it. I have learned and benefited so much from being on the board for six years that I want every member who enjoys meetings, working collaboratively, and thinking on a policy level to experience it. For this reason, I rarely vote for incumbents on our board, despite that they are all doing a great job. We have such an amazing business structure and successful, well supported, functional board (which I have heard is rare) that it seems greedy to keep it to the same nine people year after year, no matter how much we like each other and feel productive.

Then the grief returns - this is the end of an era. I think. After all, I don't know what I am going to do next and some of those rainbows on the horizon definitely have a cooperative hue.

However, as a Buddhist I am appreciative of the opportunity to be aware during the in-between time. When one opportunity dies it is so easy to tumble forward into a future that seems most comfortable and familiar. Hopefully, instead I can use this opportunity to reflect and direct instead of doing something just because my parents started me on that trajectory before I had much of a choice.

So, I want to let this be the end of an era, or at least have that option along with all my other options. Regardless letting go isn't easy. Change is hard, even when I do see the boundless opportunity in it.