This morning, I put on my layers, stepped out into the cold, breath-condensing air, and I ran. I saw the sun come out defiantly from behind the clouds, I saw surfers getting in their first (or perhaps second or third) set of the day, and grinned as a flock of pigeons took off around me and momentarily included me in their flight.

What made this morning’s run special was that it all took place around the time I would normally have been leaving for work. Instead of walking to the bus stop slowly, relishing those few minutes spent outside, I reveled in a whole half hour of gloriously cold air hitting my face and an early jolt of endorphins to start the day. Suddenly, the transitions of the past week didn’t seem quite as scary any more.

I have spent most of that week adjusting to two new realities: a renewed awareness of my father’s mortality, and the bittersweet realization that I needed to quit my job in order to spend more time with him. The latter development has come about rather more quickly than I had anticipated, which is how I find myself at home on a Monday morning after an early run, finishing my coffee two hours later than usual.

This is the first time in almost five years that I will be without a regular vocation, be it work or school. The last time was when I traveled for three months in between college and grad school, and even then I had something concrete to do (i.e. getting from place to place, on time and in one piece.) This time, it is truly unstructured. There is something frightening about having that much freedom, and I feel a faint sense of unease, as if there are alarm bells going off in whatever place I’m really supposed to be right now. I am slowly getting reacquainted with the concept, but I can say that if all mornings start off the way this one did, I might get used to it a lot faster.