I missed the cut. I could cry my eyes out or to steal a cliché, I could get back up on the horse and try again.
I was in my mid 20s and I was applying for a newspaper reporter position back in Pennsylvania. My fiancé, now my wife, and I were in Northern Virginia and I had applied for a position at a thriving mid-sized paper in the coal regions of Eastern Pennsylvania. I had done well in a phone interview the week before and then on site with the editor and a few of his staff.
I thought the job was mine. I was young and didn’t have a ton of experience, but the editor had hinted about several story ideas that he wanted to give me when I took the job. If that wasn’t a good sign, I wasn’t sure what was. I knew vaguely about a few other applicants, but, in my mind, the job was mine. I was already planning out when I was going to tell my current boss that I was going to resign and mapping out in the next county over where we were going to live.
Then I got the call. It started simply enough with quiet “Hello” on the other end of the line and went downhill fast: “Um, we’re sorry, but we’ve decided to go in a different direction.”
And just like that the call was over. The news stung. I thought I had been hit with a Mike Tyson punch. The job was mine . . . and then it wasn’t. I shook my head to wake myself up, but nothing worked. I cursed God or whoever determined such things for my misfortune. I’m not the kind of guy who goes around hitting walls. I’ve never seen the purpose, but I remember being challenged that day. I simply wanted to know what happened. I searched for answers, but they never came.
I was out of my mind. I would have stayed there probably forever if it hadn’t been for a coincidental meeting a few days later. I was headed one morning to the local county government building to talk with the executive director about some change the commissioners wanted to make in a zoning law and I ran into a local business owner I had seen at one meeting or another.
When I said hello, he barely looked up. He looked horrible, like he hadn’t slept in days. When I asked if everything was fine, he said that his wife had passed away the previous day. He was simply going into his office to pick-up his Rolodex to make some calls to family and friends. My words sounded hollow, but I offered my sympathies and I asked if there was anything I could do. He said “no” that he was in shock, but his family was helping him through the tragedy. He thanked me and the exchange was over in just a minute or two.
After talking to the business owner, my problems seemed smaller, less tragic, less life and death worthy. Oh, I was still disappointed in not getting the job, but I was reminded that life is less about what happens to us and more about how we respond. My options were simple: I could waste away my life in disappointment and sadness, wondering what might have been or I could get back up on the horse and try again.
In these crazy times, I find myself thinking back on my dilemma oh so many years ago and many others like it. Like then, I find myself scared and confused by the news reports.
The Coronavirus has blown across the globe like some ever-increasing wave. With each new wave, the number of people with the virus keeps increasing. As of late on Sunday, March 15, the virus has infected more than 3,200 people in the US and more than 167,000 across the globe with the death count rising to 6,455. Medical experts say that we’ve seen just the beginning.
Despite the challenge, we still have options.
We can run and hide, coming out only to run to the grocery store to stockpile toilet paper and the bare essentials or we can be smart and get through the challenge.
Serious issue needing serious steps
Yes, we have to be careful, it’s a serious illness and we all should be concerned for older friends and family and those with weakened immune systems. And yes, the human condition brings out the worse in people—including selfish hoarding and price gouging—but it also brings out the best. We’re surrounded by daily examples of selfless acts, the work of doctors and nurses and EMTs across the world during this crises come top of mind.
We all know what we need to do: frequently wash your hands, keep a three-foot distance from the next person, be smart around young children and the elderly, and eat healthy to keep your immune system strong.
We all know the drill. We just need to follow it. In the end though, the important thing is how we face the months ahead: crying over the challenge that’s in front of us or fighting back with our smarts.
Like the job I lost eons ago, I choose to look to the bright side and get back up on the horse. I think I’ll be better for it.