Re­flect­ing on a decade gone by

The Saline Courier - - OPINION -

“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.”

DANA GUTHRIE

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