People

Jumping With Your Eyes Closed


20160718_171914Anyone who knows me knows that my dog is the love of my life (sorry, Chris). My relationship with him is the longest I’ve ever had. When I was young and reckless in college, he gave me life. He gave me a reason to take care of myself because I needed to take care of him. He has traveled the world with me and he teaches me things all the time. Like after college when our walks taught me to see the world through a filter of wonder. He taught me that tears can be licked away and a smile revealed like a rainbow that will give you just enough energy to start the day anew.

Recently, he developed cataracts causing his visibility to be drastically reduced. It started out small. I noticed his eyes would shine green in the sunlight. He would step extra carefully down the stairs. Then he started running into the other dogs much to his surprise and their disapproval.

Whenever I tell people that he’s basically blind, they sigh and express pity. I felt this, too, once. It’s hard to watch someone you love struggle and there’s not much you can do.

But Orbison was never frustrated. He was never sad about his situation. If he hadn’t started running into things I would have never known his eyesight had deteriorated so much, because he runs and jumps with the same fervor as before.

A few months ago, I lost my job. It was a job that caused me to develop an eye twitch and one that I was dying to be rid of, but it was still a blow to my confidence all the same.

Searching for work is like jumping with your eyes closed. Sometimes I would be afraid to apply somewhere because I couldn’t see how it would work or what it would be like or if I would fit in. When I felt like that I would think about Orbison and how he jumps with his eyes closed all the time. No fear. Sometimes he misses and bumps his head. But mostly he lands and he is where he wanted to be.

Last month, I started a new job where the majority of my day is spent taking care of animals. It’s a complete career change and I’m being generous when I call it a career because it’s so specialized I might just have to work there forever. There were a lot of things that sounded scary about this job; different wages, different schedule, different people, so much unknown, and so much poop. But when I felt unsure about what I was jumping into, I remembered how Orbison jumps with his eyes closed all the time so I’ll just have to too.

So far he’s never led me astray.

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People

Everyone has a code.


I think I may have insulted a really good friend last night. And really more than one, but only one was around to hear what I said.

See I’ve been having a difficult time defining success. The fear of failure is ever lurking particularly when you work in journalism and particularly when half your company has been let go.

People don’t just get let go because they’ve failed at their job. But when we try to work harder in order to keep our job, we adopt the opposite thinking. Having becomes success, and losing becomes failure.

All sorts of characteristics come out in people when it appears you may be on a sinking ship. Or at least a ship where everyone is getting thrown overboard. You have people who never use the internet, updating their resumes and online profiles. People having drinks with other people they normally wouldn’t have but now they have something in common. The need for success.

I used to think that success could not be measured by dollar signs or material wealth. And now I feel that too, is incredibly insulting.

Now I’m going to say something even more insulting. I used to think that simply raising a family wasn’t enough. That it was good but that there had to be something else in order for a person to be truly successful.

Maybe it’s because my mother was so adamant about how hard she worked. How she would always say that if she could raise me and have a job, so could everyone else. It was as if not having a job was the epitome of failure.

I still have mine. But as I see co-workers and journalists walk out the door for the last time, donning a look of uncertainty, I can’t help but think–wait, it’s 2014.

Right now, having a job doesn’t mean keeping a job. The entrepreneurs and freelancers that I know today are rocking it. I want to be just like them. Not having a job can be success. Being your own boss is what we talk about at those happy hours with people we used to not have anything in common with. So what’s success?

Money, power, security, family, time?

We’re all playing Mastermind against ourselves. Trying to figure out just the right combination of all the things we think equal success. Sometimes we look at other people’s boards. We judge some people for finishing too quickly, we judge others for having too easy or too hard of a code. And we judge ourselves most of all for not getting it “right” always.

I’ve spent a lot of time mulling over what my code is. A lot of time scrutinizing other people’s codes. Today, I’m going to throw out the board. Maybe eat a donut grilled cheese sandwich. Maybe I won’t have a job. Maybe I’ll invent my own job. Maybe I’ll invent a better sandwich. But I’m done wasting time on my code. And I’m done looking at yours.

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