Reflecting on a decade gone by
“Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press ... . ” — From the First Amendment to Constitution
“It is not time itself that we notice passing, but the things it erases and reclaims for eternity. Infancy, childhood, golden moments, red-letter days, the darkest nights - all washed away as if by water. All out of sight, as if by tides.” - Heidi Thomas
When I think back over the last 10 years of my life, I can say that they have been some of the best and worst that I’ve experienced. My life today looks nothing like it did 10 years ago. I started the decade in a completely different state and in a completely different field. Single and (for the most part) loving it, I did my own thing and did it my own way.
I began the decade as a television producer in Dallas with a somewhat loosely cobbled together plan to stay there for the rest of my life. I loved my job, my friends and my city. Although it was difficult to be away from my family back in Arkansas, I intended to continue to forge the path I was headed on…until it was abruptly cut off due to an unstable economy. In one fell swoop, my department was gutted as the powers that be needed to cut expenses and the best solution was to move to out of house production.
Knowing that it had nothing to do with me or my performance was of little comfort. I had been with the company for 12 years and some of my co-workers were my “family” since I had none to speak of in the state. With a healthy savings and an amazing severance package, I wasn’t worried. At least until I hit the one year mark without a job.
Forced to move back to Arkansas,
I felt like a complete and utter failure. Nearing 40 and a career derailed, I was not happy with anything in my life. Family and friends rallied around me, but as the months dragged on, I only saw things as bleak and terrible.
Substitute teaching to makes ends meet did bring some joy. Seeing the potential in the kids I worked with and the unsolicited hugs and smiles were the first breaks in the clouds. I decided to turn my job search away from television and back to the craft that started my career - writing. When I was first offered a job as a reporter, I was nervous. Would I still be able to use words to paint pictures in people’s minds as I had at the beginning of my career? I was an expert at crafting tales in a visual medium, but could I still elicit the same with the written word?
First-day jitters were all consuming. I walked into the newsroom and in the midst of trying to center myself, I noticed a man casually leaned back in his chair putting off the air of someone who not only owned the room, but the building and probably every other structure in the area. That whole heart skipping a beat thing — pretty sure mine stopped for a good 10 or 15 seconds. Literally shaking my head and telling myself to focus, I made it through day one. It was the first day of my new job and the first day with my future husband in my life.
I quickly fell in love with the life of a reporter and with the love of my life. Within eight months of that day, we were married. The day I married Bruce Guthrie I became a wife, stepmother and even a grandmother all in one fell swoop.
After stepping away from the reporter life for several months the following year, I began to become restless. I missed the life. It’s an acquired taste and some are not cut out for the deadlines and dedication it takes. For every compliment I receive on a story, I guarantee you that I’ve received 10 times more hate, threats and all manner of things you wouldn’t say in front of your mother on another. This job is not for the faint of heart, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I always strive to report fairly and without bias. It’s very Dragnet — just the facts ma’am. People may not always like what I have written, especially when it’s about them, but I never want to be accused treating someone unfairly.
At the beginning of the decade, I thought my path was clear. At the close of the decade, I am on a completely different map that I didn’t even know existed. I wouldn’t have it any other way. The way I marked time at the beginning was negative - a lost career, a move I never wanted and a life plan uprooted. Now, I see that I was being positioned for a greater life than I had imagined for myself. With those so-called losses, I gained everything.
As the new decade begins, I am reminded of another of Thomas’ writings. In it, she again acknowledges the passage of time, but also gives hope and admonishes us to remember that time passing is a good thing. While we may mourn it’s passage, we should also remember that change is good. The world continues to move forward and we must move, willingly or not, with it.
“At times, the present seems most perfect when its seeds lie in the past. For others, life is rendered flawless when we look towards the future, glimpsing from within one golden moment all the joys the days to come might hold. We cannot stand still because the world keeps turning. Every year must give way to the next and its stories must be folded, tucked away like children’s clothes outgrown, cherished and never quite forgotten…there’s always change everywhere. There are always new faces, new tears to shed, new joys to invest in, yet the circle of love is not broken, it expands.”