A short crisis

When I lost my job on August 28, I expected it to be the start of a long, crippling crisis that tested my resolve and made me wonder about who I was. I expected it to force me into a long identity crisis that would force me to examine what I wanted my future to be. I expected a long period of crippling depression.

None of that happened. More days than not I had phone interviews before the president of Arkansas Flag and Banner saw my resume and set me up in their marketing department where I’m coming off a week of invigorating work. Everything took 5 weeks from job loss to job gain. So this is definitely a victory lap entry.

But it’s a meditation too. Because I’ll be blunt. I spent 12 years expecting to lose that job at the paper. Gloom has hung over that business for years. That’s not a judgment. It’s just how newspapers are. It’s a tough era. Many of my friends did get cut. I thought long and hard about life after. And I expected there not to be much after. I thought I was locked in because of my training.

Which is completely untrue. I’m actually doing great at my new job because I have immense skills to bring. I’m actually really excited about what my future looks like. I have ideas percolating to bring to future ventures already. That’s cool as hell.

So I’m left to look at something surreal. A brief period of crisis. Just a very tiny one. I only had a few days where I got low and maybe a day where I was at my pit. But that’s it. And I honestly don’t wonder much why I only had a brief moment of panic.

I’m not who I was in 2007. That’s an understatement. I’m older. I’m more worldly. I’m mature. Well more mature. I also have experience. I’ve gained skills over the last 12 years. I’m stronger for it.

The reason this last month went as brief as it did is two fold. One is luck. I’m lucky my new boss saw my resume and found where I fit. But that’s one reason. The other is will. I got my resume out. I applied at well over 150 jobs. Were some bad fits? Yes. But I was trying. And I landed where I belonged.

And yet… I’m aware I don’t think this is fully resolved. I think in a few years I’ll clearly know how I feel about the paper. I know there’s some anger there that I have yet to really process. I know there’s a lot of nostalgia. I think I’m struggling just to know what to think since for 12 years I knew nothing but it. That’s okay. It’s not something I have know or solve soon. Or ever really.

What I can’t and won’t do is lament that this was indeed short. No, that I raise a glass to. It was a short crisis because it turns out life can be good. It turns out there are amazing people in this world. There are amazing opportunities.

And so as I often do, my mind turns to the words of the great Richard Matheson in his classic The Incredible Shrinking Man. It’s a film about an unfathomable existential crisis, to shrink into seeming nothingness. And yet it ends on such intense hope. I didn’t go through anything like that, I lost my job and found what I truly believe will be a better one, But these lines give me hope so allow me a quote.

I was continuing to shrink, to become. . .what? The infinitesimal? What was I? Still a human being? Or was I the man of the future? If there were other bursts of radiation, other clouds drifting across seas and continents, would other beings follow me into this vast new world? So close – the infinitesimal and the infinite. But suddenly, I knew they were really the two ends of the same concept. The unbelievably small and the unbelievably vast eventually meet – like the closing of a gigantic circle. I looked up, as if somehow I would grasp the heavens. The universe, worlds beyond number, God’s silver tapestry spread across the night. And in that moment, I knew the answer to the riddle of the infinite. I had thought in terms of man’s own limited dimension. I had presumed upon nature. That existence begins and ends in man’s conception, not nature’s. And I felt my body dwindling, melting, becoming nothing. My fears melted away. And in their place came acceptance. All this vast majesty of creation, it had to mean something. And then I meant something, too. Yes, smaller than the smallest, I meant something, too. To God, there is no zero. I still exist!