“Jumping out of a perfectly good aircraft is not a natural act, so let’s just do it right and enjoy the view.” – Clint Eastwood as Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Highway from Heartbreak Ridge
Pivotal moments come and go in each of our lives. Some feel small but turn out to have significant impact later, while others loom large with the consequences they bring. The monster decisions are always laced with fear because they impact more than ourselves, and the possibility of failure can be daunting. History has shown that the safe decision is not always the best, and while the courage to dare greatly brings the biggest risk, it is only by those means we achieve more lofty goals.
It’s easy to sit here at my keyboard and string together words of inspiration while it’s quite another to actually turns words into action. With that thought I am reminded of yet another quote by John “The Penguin” Bingham, the self-made marathon runner who transformed himself from overweight, over-forty couch potato to never-say-die athlete.
Bingham never broke records or took the running world by storm. Instead, he became the champion of the everyman with the focus to compete and finish. This empowerment of self-reward in lieu of medals, trophies, or recognition won him throngs of followers, and the motto was the title of his first book.
“The miracle is not that I finished, it’s that I had the courage to start.” – John Bingham
I tried to follow his path as a self-made runner, but foot blisters ended my determination in that arena, yet I have found his mental approach to be applicable in many other ways. I find it to be very similar to the advice Benjamin Mee gave his son in, We Bought a Zoo.
“Sometimes, all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, just literally, 20 seconds of embarrassing bravery, and I promise you something great will happen because of it.”
Greater words of truth have rarely been spoken, and it took all of the above advice for me to make the decision to retire from my job. This is not retirement in the conventional sense given my job employs a points system of age plus years of service. Once you reach the magic number of 80 points you have the option of taking your pension and moving on.
In the world of industrial rotating shift work, I have known a scant few people that made it to the widely regarded retirement age of 65. Some did and didn’t live long afterward, while others crossed the finish line in stride. The vast majority wind up leaving because they simply can’t take the grind any longer but it’s never an easy decision.
When you’ve been employed for thirty-plus years on a job with a living wage and benefits, you’ve most likely built a life that involves a home and family, so your decisions impact them as much as yourself. Luckily, my children are grown but I still have a wife and home to contribute to, so leaving one job means stepping into the world of another.
If anyone had asked me years ago that I would leave industrial work for a sales job, I probably would’ve called them crazy. Then again, many in the mainstream world have long thought I was crazy to stay at my job for so long. There is no argument that my position has been demanding and relentless, while the pay was good it came with a high cost to your life and health. These among other reasons finally made me weigh the scales of life more closely and choose to make a jump.
Writing a novel was a big self accomplishment for me, and while I continue work on the next book in the storyline I have learned the harsh truth that success and fortunes in the literary world are as common as lottery winners. So with the option of writing full time falling in the area of starving artist, I knew other paths had to be explored.
I look forward to my new venture in the world of sales, but my trusty laptop is still along for the ride and my passion for all things automotive has yet to fade. With that in mind, there are those who think me insane to walk away from my present job, but almost 38 years of shifts and sleepless nights followed by 20 seconds of insane courage have told me otherwise.
Will I have regrets? I can’t imagine there won’t be days when those thoughts cross my mind, but time and life move forever forward, waiting for none of us. The rearview mirror and reverse gear are there for a short but intended purpose, but forward gears and the view through the big windshield is what gets us where we want to go.
I leave behind a bounty of memories and people who have greatly impacted my life, and I count myself all the better for the experience, but I’m always up for a road trip, and all the amazing places yet to be seen.
Time to jump in the driver’s seat and motor!
-T. August Green