I don’t remember when or how the idea to travel around the world first became a realistic option for me.
“Sell your house. Buy a round-the-world ticket and see the world.”
Such were the words of my friend Josh, who lives in Jakarta with his wife and two children. His advice has often replayed itself in my head in the 12 years since we first met while working on the local newspaper in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He was the photo intern; I was initially a reporter and later a page designer and copy editor.
Of course, the idea seemed fantastic, but life was good at the time. Besides, I thought, there’s always time.
Recently, my employer in New York — let’s call it the Cuckoo’s Nest — and I parted ways when the economy hit it, and hit it hard.
Months of doomsday speculation by industry watchers and constant queries of how my relatively new job was going (which I would answer with, “We’re doing okay … for now”) largely prepared me for that afternoon in late October when I found myself, along with roughly 20 percent of the staff, suddenly on the freelance end of things.
Sure, it was emotional. I became teary-eyed in my boss’s office, trying to reassure him that I understood how difficult this was for him. I heaped praise on how fortunate I felt, even then, at having worked at such a quality organization, at having such talented coworkers and at our combined successes of the previous year. What was truly amazing is how deeply I felt this, and how fortunate I felt to recognize it.
“I’m good, actually,” I would repeat many times in the following week. “It wasn’t much of a surprise. Oh, yes, there’s a bright side. At least I’m not on track to lose an estimated $1 billion this year, like my former employer is.”
Different approaches to breaking the news still elicited many of the same responses.
After the words of empathy, shock and outrage from friends and family subsided, I settled into a remarkable calm. I knew, somehow, that it was a blessing in disguise. A chance to do something different with my life, an opportunity to alter my course had been presented to me.