Today I quit my job in corporate American media.
I/We have been working up to this move for many years as we journey towards our farmstead. I told Kristina that, in a way, I feel like I am starting my third life.
There was the first one, being a kid, growing up, doing stupid things. Then my first adult life, starting a “career” and buying a mortgage, doing what I thought I was supposed to do, sitting at a desk while “saving” for retirement, but feeling somehow not right. Out of place (and ripped off).
We have worked very hard and sacrificed to get here. We will continue to.
What will we be doing if we aren’t working for someone else, saving for “someday” and accepting a life that just isn’t breeding contentment? Living. Just as before, but from here on, only on our own terms.
During the Sunday night before I gave my notice, a few times my mind would turn anxious if I awoke. I was worried about letting “the team” down. Even after committing to my new direction, I was concerned about angering my employers, about possibly making the “wrong” decision. I focused on picturing a calm place… the place I really want to be… an idea of our farm that grows clearer every day… focus then drifted to my own breathing and I soon fell deeply asleep.
Upon waking, I had no fear, a bit of anxiousness to call the boss for a meeting, but underneath that, a tectonic shift was propelling me forward.
The power of that push towards the new and the responsibility to be true to myself blew away any remaining dust of doubt.
On the way to work, I remarked that it felt really anti-climactic. I picture things so dramatically. I have anticipation of a big exclamation-point-lightning-bolt to highlight a Major Life Event, but like most things I worry about, it doesn’t end or begin with a bang, but with a whisper. And in this case, I would see, with a smile and a bevy of congratulations and well wishes.
So, honestly, there was nothing for me to ever worry about.
I called Frank, my boss, to meet me first thing. The meeting in the news conference room that preceded us had left trays of bagels and coffee, a blessed sign. I was interviewed (twice) and hired in this room and I pictured this moment in my mind many, many times. For many years.
“I am beginning a great journey.”
He raised an eyebrow and I set down my printed two-week notice.
“My wife and I have sold our home and all of our possessions to pursue our dream of an organic farm.” … I waited for anger, for ambivalence, for judgement. I waited to be ordered out of the building immediately, my head hung-low. For the world as I knew it to collapse and leave me mangled and raw…
“Congratulations!” he replied with a wide grin and a handshake (and a bit of a tear in the eye, Frank, eh?)
Frank Mungeam, my Managing Director of Digital Media, the author of his most recent book “Dream It, Do It“, expressed his excitement for us. The man, who wrote the book on pursuing your dreams, has always offered the team great advice for innovation in writing and publishing. He had also not given me a raise in over five years and had made it pretty clear that I had reached the pinnacle of my career at the station while sitting behind a screen in my cubicle.
He was eager to find out more about our Quest. I told him about A Little Further (that always gets a chuckle from the folks in-the-know.)
“Burn the ships!” my boss declared.
I didn’t get the reference at first, but he told me it was Spanish Conquistador Hernando Cortez’ famous order upon landing in the New World.
It is a popular phrase used as a motivation technique. Cortez was so committed to finding the Aztec gold once they came ashore, he cut off any escape route for his men to retreat back to the comfort and familiarity of the Old World.
They burned the ships.
Create and survive, or perish.
“Whatever prevents you from achieving your goals and dreams are ships that must be burned. Not dismantled, or run ashore…but burned and destroyed,” wrestler Lee Kemp writes.
Ha HA! Again, my fears… unrealized.
“I don’t know anyone who has ever regretted pursuing a dream,” Frank said. “You never know where it may lead, but for me, I left (my last TV station) and thought I would end up writing one book, I didn’t write that one, but I don’t regret where I am at all.”
Support, belief in us, well wishes and inspiration are in many ways worth so much more than a paycheck.
“The thing is, you never know until you open the door,” he said.
Thank you to my dear friends and coworkers for my seven years with KGW.com, and to everyone else I have worked with in the Portland media.
I know my experiences in trying to tell good stories have given me the tools I need to tell our own story, and to realize bigger dreams.