“It’s been too hard living, but I’m afraid to die
‘Cause I don’t know what’s up there, beyond the sky
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will”
— Sam Cooke, A Change is Gonna Come
• • •
There’s an old story about a fork in the road and taking the road less traveled. Well, not a story, really … a poem. Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.”
In less than 12 days, I’m going to be standing at one of those forks, where “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.”
Only I don’t really have a choice of which one to take. It’s going to be decided for me.
Unlike Frost’s masterpiece, at my fork in the road of life, there is somebody I do not yet know and they are going to be pointing me down one of those paths.
Go left? Go right? Go north or south?
I don’t know the answer. Yet I still trudge — “To trudge: the slow, weary, depressing yet determined walk of a man who has nothing left in life except the impulse to simply soldier on,” said Geoffrey Chaucer, as played by actor Paul Bettany in the movie, “A Knight’s Tale — toward that fork, toward a decision that is out of my hand and will send my life on a tangent that just a year ago seemed rather improbable.
Welcome to Life 101 — where we’re all still trying to pass the class, not realizing the joke is on us and we will never actually matriculate to Life 202 because it simply doesn’t exist on the campus that is our lives.
Here’s the skinny on what’s going down. On Tuesday, April 12, the company that owns the newspaper I work is getting out of the journalism business. It is being purchased by a competing company and while “The Hour” newspaper will live on under this new ownership, changes will be coming.
My department — Sports — is being especially hard hit.
I’ve been laid off before and one of the things I keep telling myself is that on the morning of Wednesday, April 13, the sun is going to come up, regardless of which path I’ll be shown to take.
That’s why I laughed at myself at four o’clock on the morning of this writing, waking from a sound sleep to realize that the news which became all but official earlier in the day kind of hit me.
It was still pitch black out as I realized, “Holy shit, I could be unemployed in 14 days.”
We’ve all been invited to apply for a position in this company — which lets not forget already employees hundreds of others who might be interested in this same position, as well.
On paper, I’ve got as good a shot as any with my experience and abilities. I started in the field of journalism in late summer of 1984 and save for a two-year hiatus where I dipped my toes into the world of education it’s all I’ve ever known.
This August will be my 32nd year as a journalism. This October would have been my 10th anniversary being employed by my current employer.
April 13 will be a brand new day and as of this writing I can’t tell you what it’s going to be like.
Will I get up and go to work?
Or will I sit down at a computer and grow more and more depressed over the prospects of finding a new job in the ever-gloomy field of my chosen profession, which I love today as much as I ever have.
To coin a term from this world, It’s a jump ball.
I’ll apply. I’ll hope to get an interview. I’ll try to knock it out of the park.
Then somebody I’ve never met until that day will show me the way to go.
I started this post with Sam Cooke’s title of his 1964 song. I end it with Frost’s final lines.
“I shall be telling this with a sigh, somewhere ages and ages hence; Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — … “
Well, that’s to be decided, isn’t it.
And come April 13, that will have made all the difference.