Last week I was in Lisbon for work.
Well, one day for work. I went the weekend before and walked around before I had to get my game face on.
This is my last business trip for my current job. I put in my notice last week.
They say changing jobs is as traumatic as losing a loved one or getting a divorce.
I’ve never had either of those things happen to me, so I have nothing to compare this to.
Lisbon is a good place to walk around and ruminate.
The city is basically a series of hills, installed to allow it to view itself.
Even the locals look impressed.
For about 300 years, the Portuguese were a major European power.
Profitable pillaging, royalty in the tabloids, franchises in Asia, Africa, the Middle East.
At the time, Portuguese people must have thought it would go on forever. Conquest, expansion, power, wealth. Just follow the trend line from past to present to future.
Then in 1755 an earthquake shook Lisbon to the ground.
The empire never quite recovered. While Lisbon rebuilt itself, it lost its colonies to resistance, competition, neglect.
Now, for all its charms, Portugal is a minor power, alone, its former colonies still speaking its language, but no longer singing its anthems.
I was in Portugal to have meetings, shake hands.
Knowing it would be the last time didn’t make me do it any different.
‘Looking forward to working together’, I would say, realizing later I was lying.
My boss asked me why I was leaving, and I told him ‘I think I’ll be happier doing something else’.
and he said, ‘You’re young enough for that to be a good reason. But just.’
I’ve got a bunch of projects lined up, but nothing permanent.
When I tell people I quit, the first thing they say is ‘You’ll be fine!’
I think that’s true. This weekend, looking outward from Portugal, it sometimes felt true too.
I’m not afraid for my future, or of it. I just wonder if that’s what you think right up until the ground starts to shake.