JAMES BRIAN KERR
Where I've Been, and What I've Learned
A few years back, I had an epiphany.
I was sitting at my desk at the big tech company where I'd worked for twenty-eight years when the phone rang. It was my boss, telling me that the new CEO who'd recently joined the company was making changes and I was being let go as global head of communications.
I was stunned. The company had been struggling, yes, but I was a star performer. I was indispensable. Or so I thought. I'd joined the firm fresh out of grad school, thinking I'd be there a few years before moving on to pursue my dream of being a novelist. Now I was a month shy of fifty-five and expecting to retire from the place.
One thing I knew: I had given this company the best years of my career. How could they just let me go?
My head reeling, I left the building and went outside. It was a gorgeous October day, the trees dressed in their fall foliage, but I saw none of it. My life was just beginning to settle down after a long slog through cancer, divorce, depression and other piles of dung ... and now this? I had a mortgage. Kids in college. What was I going to do?
Leaving my car behind at the office, I started walking down the road, and just kept going. I wanted to see, up close, the twenty-two-mile route I'd been unconsciously racing through for nearly three decades, and maybe in the process figure out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
What was normally a fifty-minute commute turned into an odyssey into the self. As I walked through verdant valleys and busy shopping districts thick with lights and signs, I thought about the dreams we hold as kids and how they get crowded out by other stuff along the way. I thought about the masks we wear in a big company and how easy it is to lose our sense of self when we're riding the back of a corporate leviathan. I thought about the tradeoffs we make for security, and how security is but an illusion.
Mostly, I thought about the faith that keeps us walking through adversity in life. When I got home seven hours later, I had no idea where I would find my next job, but I knew I would be okay. I knew where my strength came from. I had come home to my authentic self.
Join me on the road to self-discovery. It's a long road, often uphill, sometimes treacherous. But it's also filled with gorgeous sights along the way. I think you'll find it's worth the walk.
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