Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Toast to the Renewal of Old Acquaintances

At this time last year I was in "clean out the office" mode. I had - admittedly seduced by the siren's song - elected to walk away from the place that had been my professional home since January 1998 in pursuit of......what exactly I do not know. In my head I was off in pursuit of a new challenge. I am not getting any younger - or taller for that matter - and while I was born sans a biological clock I do have a "professional" clock. In my mind's ear I was hearing it tick quite loudly. While I do not know now - and sadly did not ever know then - all that factored into the decision I made I do know that at this moment twelve months ago, while I was very much anxious about all of the unknowns that were staring me in the face, I was very much excited about converting some of them into "knowns".

Excitement erodes quickly in the face of unrealistic and unrealized expectations. We learn as children that the grass is not always greener on the fence's far side. No one ever tells us that sometimes what appears to be grass over there is not even grass. Rather it is painted concrete. Falling upon it leads to something more dire than simply skinning one's knee. Once upon a time as a much younger man, the combination of too short a fuse and too large a love for vodka left me perpetually intolerant of much of what went on around me. Age and abstinence from Russia's greatest export have made me much more so. Yet late-discovered tolerance has its limits. And shortly after arriving at my new "home" and realizing that little was as it had appeared to be, my limit was reached. And then it was overfilled. Again. And again. And again.

Once I reached my breaking point - and beyond it I think - I was reminded of something that I had probably learned for the first time as a child watching Saturday morning cartoons. There is no "perfect place" and I, much like Yogi and Boo Boo, had no shot of reaching its non-existent shores. At or about that point I shifted into "How do I fix this?" mode. I say with no sense of pride that on more than one occasion the notion flashed through my mind of driving my car as fast as I could into a bridge abutment or some such thing - or strapping one or more individuals to the hood of my car and then driving it very fast into something very hard. Fortunately as I was lost in mid-wallow, I received a bit of guidance and inspiration from a source I have been mining my whole life. My brother Bill sensed a disturbance in the force around me and not only talked me off of my metaphorical ledge but also reminded me that for every problem there is indeed a solution. All I had to do was be willing to pursue it.

Pursue it I did and by the end of May 2009, having summarily flushed the first half of Aught-Nine and having essentially ensured that I shall never be given the key to the City of Boston or invited to throw out the first pitch at Fenway Park (although one never can tell), I had placed Hell squarely in my rear-view mirror. I moved forward professionally by returning to the only place I have known for more than a decade. And although it likely either makes no sense or is considered to be complete bullshit by anyone reading this who has never done what it is I did this year - returned to a job - I did indeed move forward by coming back. For one does not re-enter the river at the same point. The currents move differently, the depth of the water is different and its temperature as well.

I received a stark reminder this year that even when one is a human of limited intellect (if you could see me right now you would see me sitting with my hand raised while attempting to type) one can always learn something. The old dog of "Hey man you can't teach me no jive new trick!" fame is not a canine long in the tooth but - instead - one old in his mind. One with a mind closed off from the possibility of learning anything about anything. I was pleased to find out - though it was a painful lesson to learn - that while I am wrinkly and gray I am not yet an old dog.

Although I think I might very well be a Shar-Pei.


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