There was rain. There was stir-fry. There was wine. And as there were no guests (I’d blocked the weekend for months), I had a brief window of time to do what I love most — hit the trail with Molly, bring order to the stacks of papers on my desk, veg out on Netflix (Silver Linings Playbook anyone?) and spread out on the carpeted floor downstairs and dig into The New York Times online.
But not all was right with the world. Here in Hiouchi it was smooth runnin’. The rain was slight, the stir-fry was badass, Molly was chipper and the guy in the movie gets the girl. But a story in the Times got me thinking. David Carr, media reporter for the paper, spilled some ink contextualizing the most recent round of layoffs at the Times itself. Hard times at the Times…not good. And while I never worked at the Times, I did spend years (almost 20) working in journalism. Hired, fired, promoted, demoted, laid off, bought out and pushed out — I’d been in more shakeups than a martini in a 007 film. But I got out whole I believe. And ended up running this bnb in the redwoods.
I read Carr’s piece and thought, it’s cruel world. But another story on the buyouts at the Times put a deeper spin on the buyouts. It discussed the type of people most inclined to jump at the buyout bait.
Among those willing to discuss their decision to leave, there was one common thread: They transformed, to a greater or lesser degree, their professional identities. Leaving either to do similar work for an organization vastly different from the Times, or a different kind of work altogether.
Interesting. Buyout prompts a forced pivot. More interesting, a pivot with a happy ending.
The second story continues: Because of what some see as the perverse incentive structure of buyouts, it’s probably a group that self-selects for future success. “The people who usually take buyouts are the people who can get jobs elsewhere, and those are precisely the people you would tend to want to keep,” a media executive who has worked at the Times said.
Very interesting I thought.
I never flew in the upper atmosphere Times reporters cruise in but I do sometimes wonder how I was able to land on my feet in Hiouchi (one and a half feet actually, and believe me I know there’s no predicting the future).
I get so many guests who let on that they’ve always wanted to open a bnb and look to me as some sort of sage or having unique knowledge. I’m not brave, I tell them. I’m the dog in the experiments who resists change no matter how uncomfortable the present may be (admittedly a different macro than hard times at the Times, and more of an ouch situation, but kind of close).
What I am experienced in, though, is the relatively new realization that the future is flexible and at any one point (or maybe every point) in time, undetermined. As uncomfortable as it made me feel to walk away from what I knew, it had to be done. (OK, OK, there were extenuating circumstances, age, talent, likability…we’ll talk later).
All it really takes is a goal and, for the timid, a mantra.
Like Pat says at the beginning of Silver Linings:
Once you get in the right frame of
mind, I think anything’s possible.
I think we get, we so often get
caught in this state of negativity
and it’s a, it’s a poison like
Take the buyout. Or fire yourself. Just take the first step. Take the damn plunge.