Or why “I went to the woods”
This is my first post on my first personal blog, and I have to admit I’m a bit intimidated. I have written professionally for over 30 years as a reporter, editor, public relations professional and communications executive. But it’s been a long time since I’ve sat down and written from the heart. So this blog is part experiment as I seek to reclaim a voice for myself; part therapeutic as I work through a major career transition and attendant life changes; and—I sincerely hope—part informative and provocative for those of you who may be going through similar changes.
This week marks the end of my corporate life where I have had an office, a staff and the responsibility of managing two divisions. For most of my career, I’ve worked in the Washington area for trade associations—first as an editor, then as a public affairs director and more recently as a senior vice president of marketing and communications. Perhaps it was the tedium of work or a growing realization that there’s got to be more to life. But something burned a hole right through that thin veneer of conventionality and complacency that we protect ourselves with—and that usually stops us short of doing something crazy. It started slowly and reached a “no-turning-back” point this summer.
So over the course of the next few months, I’ll be discussing my life as unattached professional, seeking to start a new, independent career. Join with me as I ponder new business possibilities, attempt to put balance back in my life and recharge my batteries. Along the way, I hope to provide insight, advice and resources for others looking to start second careers or adjust to major life changes.
For those on the edge trying to decide whether to take the big plunge, take heart. It may be a cliché, but every new adventure has a beginning. In striking out in a new direction, we may not be sure exactly where our first, baby steps will lead us, but there is great solace in the fact that we have begun the journey and left the old ways and places behind.
Thoreau went to the woods in search of solitude. Mother Teresa went to the heart of Calcutta to embrace humanity. Jack Kerouac took to the road and found a rhythm and beat that defined a generation. Could any of them have known when they first stepped out how much of a difference that one decision would have on their lives and those of others?
Perhaps it’s a stretch to think my little blog is the equivalent of Thoreau’s call to carefully reexamine our lives. I would say Walden is more of a model for me. Each time I reread its words—something I’ve done periodically since high school—I marvel at their economy and insight. Can anyone top Thoreau’s reason for going to the woods? There is no simpler, more poetic personal mission statement in all of the self-help literature you’ll find on the shelves at Barnes & Noble.
So this first post is my reason for going to the woods. How I get from here to the “there” of my journey’s end, I don’t know. What I do know is that it will have its share of twists and turns, and ups and downs. I, like so many in my generation, long for a fresh start, a do-over. So if you’re going through a transition in your life or a career change, maybe this blog’s for you.
“burned a hole right through that thin veneer of conventionality and complacency” or from another perspective, a rock shattering expectation and confidence that a more routinized professional existence is actually available for the middle-aged and over qualilfied; great first blog!
John, thanks. You’ve given me something to blog about!
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