Tuesdays and the Gifts of Shift Change
Every Tuesday, field staff at Evoke participate in the rituals of "shift change." Those who have been out in the wilderness supporting our students for a week return to the frontcountry for showers, practical errands, and catching up with loved ones. Those who have been home, resting and re-centering, prepare themselves for submersing themselves in the backcountry. This is a piece one our staff wrote about this day and the unique mix of feelings it brings up.
My chest and belly feel filled with butterflies. Excitement and anxiety. The stark white staff lounge contrasts with my fellow field staff in their sun-bleached, ripped, and perma-dirty field clothes, and I must add, these field clothes usually don’t come off until the following Tuesday.
Walking into the staff lounge on Tuesday mornings could be compared to bellying up to a jungle animal’s watering hole. Incoming field staff congregate around our watering hole of Einstein’s bagels, fruit, and veggie trays. Staff buzz around the lounge and office getting paperwork in order, setting up the week’s expedition plan, and sharing off-shift stories, hopes, and concerns for the work week with their newly assigned team. All while fixing up bagels and munching on carrots, pineapple, and cucumber.
Tuesdays are a wave of emotions. We prepare for the week and let go of what will be out of our control. For me, this looks like turning my phone off and putting it in my mailbox. Packing and unpacking my pack and food bag multiple times (sometimes waffling about a silly extra item like another layer), and of course, scoping out the library for a book to escape into on my personal time.
Along with anxiety and excitement, Tuesdays can also be saddening. Couples, families, and friends say goodbye for the week. Offering each other well wishes through cards and candy delivered by the backup team throughout the week. For myself, these sad and longing goodbyes open a gratitude piece I would never have felt before. I think about loved ones throughout the week, and it at times, brings tears to my eyes for the love I have and the love that gets us through the storms. There is also a love that subtly evolves each week within the staff team from strangers to family.
I’ll end on a piece of advice an old employee once shared with me. That is, “…each week is a new job, so treat it like it’s a new job. Be a beginner, ask questions, make mistakes. This may be the only time in your life you are encouraged to fail: take advantage of it.” I think about this each in-coming Tuesday as we load up into our truck and head out to our designated group. There, in the truck, our staff team goes around in a circle and shares our goals for the week. This is a unique opportunity to start fresh and re-focus intentions. These goals are formed through previous weeks' feedback evaluations. There is a saying I like to remind myself of and that is, “If it fits, let it sit. If it doesn’t apply, let it fly.”
Tuesdays aren’t just about going back to work. Tuesdays are about reconnecting, preparing, letting go, setting intentions, and diving into the unknown.