Thursday, November 26, 2009

My Year of Unenjoyment

This week marks the one-year anniversary of my getting the boot from my job of 12 years. I kept working for the company until January 30, to "help them through the transition." But during that time I was neither a full employee nor an unemployed one. Just a hard-working outsider.

We've heard all sorts of horror stories about layoffs, like the manager who set off the fire alarm in order to corral his staff in the parking lot and give them the boot en masse. So I have to admire the owner of my company for allowing the employees he chose to keep to go to a nearby saloon with the employees he'd just let go. Everyone had a chance to graciously say goodbye to one another.

On the other hand, I may be the only person who's been laid off by a CEO and then pulled into his office later the same day because he couldn't wait to tell me how the new structure was going to work. How he was going to meld editorial staffs from different divisions into one cohesive unit, how he would be editorial director of all, how he would turn it into a news bureau of reporters (his dream had long been to have his own newspaper-ish organization—this at a time when nearly every newspaper in the country was failing).

He was genuinely excited about the prospect and eager for me to share in the thrill. I was aghast at his insensitivity to my own future outlook. All I could muster was, "I always wanted to have a reported newsletter in my division. I'm sorry I won't be here when it finally happens."

I suppose he did me a favor, however unintentionally. I have a hard time dealing with mercurial behavior in people who hold powerful positions. Or I used to. This has become one of the lessons—and blessings—from my year of unenjoyment: that my standards and expectations of civility are not always shared by others. The sooner I'm not affected by these differences, that I don't make them so important in my life, the better.

"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures."
—Thornton Wilder

This Thanksgiving is not as grim as last year's. After a year of reflection, I find it easier to let go of the disappointments and anguish (though not to forget them). I now look forward to whatever future awaits. I'm still anxious about it, but I'm not pining after the worklife I had where I had it.

I'm thankful for this change of perspective, and to my friends, family, readers, and colleagues who have supported me during the transformation.

A Most Happy Thanksgiving to You!

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