Good morning, friends and neighbors.
It had been a very long time since Em and I had gotten out of the city. We went back to Philadelphia in July, but the last 6 months have been especially trying (to say the least,) and the immediate future promised to be even more interesting.
Back when I lived in New Jersey, walking on the beach near my house offered more than good exercise and an enjoyable afternoon. It offered perspective- a quiet if a not-so-subtle reminder of my size and place in this world, as well as the size and place of my problems.
Even the biggest things are not so big at all, compared to the view from Cannon Beach.
Several months back, I had been hired for a new job at a restaurant here in Portland. I addressed it as a new challenge– one that I tackled with as much gusto as I could manage.
This past Tuesday, I was met at the door by my supervisors with a check in their hand, and I was informed that my services were no longer required.
The exciting thing about challenges is that they are… well, challenging- and part of being challenging is the possibility of failure.
In a sense, yes- I failed to become indispensable at this position, and so I was disposed of. Personally, I can say I failed at the challenge of meeting their expectations. I failed to perform in the way and manner my employers desired. Or, at least, I failed to perform in a way that kept me safe from the budgetman’s axe.
Reading those statements aloud, though… are they actually failures?
A popular quote by Albert Einstein says, “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb trees, it will believe itself a failure.”
Within 24 hours of being fired from the restaurant, I:
- Went home
- Updated my resume and LinkedIn pages
- Took a VERY long nap with Cleo
- Did some writing
- Got a new job that I started on Thursday.
You can fail… and not be a failure.
The new position, however, will come with its own challenges.
A Nice Day Out
The new position will involve me returning to “bakers hours”- my shifts will start at 3am, and to begin with, Emily and I will not have any days off in common.
For the foreseeable future, my wife and I will be conscious in the same room for only a few hours a day.
In light of this, we decided to make a day trip to Cannon Beach and have a fun day out together while we still could. The weather was cloudy and a bit cold, but it hardly mattered to either of us. It was enough to be together, get some tasty seafood (I strongly recommend the Halibut Melt at Morris’ Fireside), and wander through a town that reminds us both fondly of Cape May in New Jersey- but a lot more vertical.
We poked into shops for things we wouldn’t buy, found a little chocolate cafe where Em got a tiny cup of really good ganache, and I just had some hot chocolate and sampled their bars.
As we walked down to the beach through the heavy mist and Haystack Rock emerged as a great golem from behind an outcropping, the weight of the future landed on both of us.
“It’s going to be tough,” I said, “but doable… you’ll be coming home when I wake up so we’ll have a few hours there, and I’ll be coming home when you’re getting ready to leave. It’s not impossible.”
Emily looked out on the flat sand pensively. “Yeah, I know that… I’m just afraid that I’ll miss you.”
As we strolled along the beach, Em took pictures and messed around with the camera features on her phone. I found myself hopping between the rocks and tidal pools at the foot of Haystack Rock.
Seagulls wheeled overhead, and for the first time in a long time, I smelled home- a combination of damp air, saltwater, and seaweed clinging to the rocks.
The first time we’d visited Haystack Rock, it was rainy- and I waded a little bit into the water because I’d finally gone “coast to coast.” Now I was back near the sea… and everything made me homesick- from the salt air to the seagulls, to the shlocky shops still selling t-shirts and beachwear out of season.
It felt right to be homesick, though. Even obliquely, connecting to my past- my roots- calmed my mind.
The sun went down, and we began to walk back.
“How are you feeling, hun?”
“Better. I’m glad we had today.”
We made one last stop at a candy shop where we loaded up bags of our favorite gummis and got ready for the drive home.
Getting fired isn’t always a negative. Obviously, it is for your bank account- but not necessarily for your career. Failing at old challenge prepares you for others- and teaches you which conditions are likely to help you succeed.
This is my 200th blog entry. It’s around because of a series of failures- and I believe it will be a cause of future successes (if I do say so myself.)
All of our past experiences teach us and inform us for what will come next.
It’s alright not to settle yet. It’s alright to be discontent.
Once you figure out why, you start looking for or building the conditions that WILL content you.
Paths aren’t always straight. You sidestep, hop between rocks, and step in soft sand every now and then. You keep walking, though, and you remember it’s all just one little rock on a big, beautiful beach.
“It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be” by Paul Arden
“Born for This” by Chris Guillebeau