Having a job you hate can be like wearing shackles that only allow your arms and legs to move 3ft apart.

You show up every day  and go through the necessary motions: paperwork, meetings, phone calls.  But never anything too big or exciting, because you can only move 3ft apart.

You go home at night and on the weekends, and you may have an enjoyable time.  You might laugh with your friends and play with your babies and embrace your spouse, and you may almost forget that those shackles are there.  But you’ll never laugh too loud or play too silly or embrace too passionately, because you can only move 3ft apart.

Eventually you begin to forget what it’s like beyond 3ft.  You can hardly remember what you would even DO with more than 3ft apart.  You can’t quite put your finger on how or when those shackles got there – they certainly weren’t there on your first day.  And so 3ft apart becomes normal.   Laughing that loud and playing that silly and embracing that strongly become distant memories – a past life that you know you lived, though the memories are deep in the foggy corners of your mind.

And then one day, if you’re lucky, you’ll leave.  Your last day will come and someone will turn the key to those rusty shackles and pull them off, and you’ll rub your wrist and shake out your legs and feel happy.  But also a little nervous.  Because those shackles – those God forsaken shackles – have been defining your life for what feels like forever.

And so, for awhile, you will continue to live 3ft apart, even though you’re free to move as you please.  You’ll laugh just that loud, play just that silly, embrace just that passionately.  But no more.

Then, a little further down the road, something will catch you off guard.  You may be having a glass of wine with old friends or a beautiful day with your babies or an especially touching moment with your partner and you’ll start laughing a little louder.  Playing a little sillier.  Loving a little deeper.  And you’ll realize at that moment that you’re beyond 3ft.  You’re beyond what any shackle could ever hope to restrain you to, and the relief and joy that rush through you will cause tears to sting your eyes.  You’ll shake your head in wonder over how you missed it – how you managed to ignore the chains holding you back from all the good life has to offer.

And it will be great.  Beyond 3ft.