Dallas, TX –
Millions of Americans have lost their jobs. Those who thought they had it made in the shade, suddenly sunburned by circumstance. People define themselves by what they do, thus losing not only their livelihood but a sense of self. Some see work as a higher-purpose calling and, without it, feel disabled and dishonored while others simply put in the time and cash the check. However you slice and dice it, job loss is a dicey reversal of fortune that has enormous implications beyond the obvious.
As someone who knows too well what it is to have the rug pulled out from under him - indeed the floor itself - the self-doubt hopeless-helpless alarm is palpable when reserves are shallow, when there's family to protect. While no few currently drowning in this insolvent storm surge will safely swim to shore, more and more will be buried at sea. Water-logged survivors looking for answers might question how yesterday's job security became an end-all/be-all panacea, curtailing earlier-in-life ambitions. Indulgent regret becomes your shadow, navigating the unknown without a compass.
The bad news is you feel isolated, debilitated and betrayed. The good news? If you're intelligent, resilient, determined and fit, there are alternative worlds beyond any despicable transition.
I learned this first amendment to my life's lesson when the only home I'd ever known burned. Every memory, photo,even my pets, gone. Forever. I was 24 and shattered. What to do? What to feel? After prolonged tortured mourning, I reconsidered my future. Like many persons and most men, I dreamed of adventure but had made myself believe I could not abandon material obligations, my roots. With everything gone, I spent the second half of my 20s tramping around the globe. Backpacking in parks, under bridges, in caves; slipping onto airplanes when my only ticket was youthful charm. Daring to live the childhood dream I yearned for reading those Richard Halliburton books and old National Geographics. Today, as I rocket into the senior years' Milky Way, I thank God I had such experiences rather than lurching early-on into career confinement.
A generation later, after two decades, my lucrative corporate position was eliminated. For 5 years, the private pain was chronic. This time, age was the blind-side barrier to renewed hope. Out of sight/out of mind former work associates regarded me as a has-been relic. But, in the process of tending to this century's world-weary wounds, I re-learned that with absolute loss comes any brave new world's probable gain. Thus began my on-air work with NPR and beyond. Another almost-lost dream that came true only after being forced from a lulling sleep.
We can't always keep our jobs but we must always keep the faith. There's life after any salesman's death if; when they cut off your legs, you roll. With the punches. With any luck, you'll learn to fly high above those whose drowsy diffidence left them grounded for life.
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