Sunday, March 01, 2009

Flight QF94 from LA to Melbourne

What a week of turmoil. A rollercoaster of loss, fear of impending potential loss, a recognition of what I have and what is important, and then a modicum of optimism, excitement and hope. Sometimes changing from one to another within moments. In a matter of days I had lost my financially comforting BT contract, my major contract of sale and implementation with Telstra, and it also looked like all could be swept away from the Xypro side thanks to an impending development or acquisition of all related software by HP. A potential of all income disappearing within months. And the realisation that I may have to get a “real” job. Significantly less income, but the greatest loss of all being that of complete freedom that I have experienced for the last decade and a half. It dawned on me in all it’s light that the money is completely secondary to the ability to work for myself. Not beholden to anyone in a work sense on a day by day basis. And that could all be gone. Having to trudge into the city every day to go and work in a large organisation such as the ANZ. And in all reality, given the current financial climate, having to almost plead for a job somewhere. The thought gives me a sickening churn in my stomach. Owning our own house and having a good quantity of money in the bank provided me finally with somewhat of a calming effect. We’d be alright. I’d have time to work out what to do and hope that an opportunity would present itself. But when everything seems to be spiralling out of control, how quickly and easily one can feel that everything could keep on sliding down that slippery slope and it can all be taken away. This all against the backdrop of an impending 38 degree day with hot north wind and bushfire panic in the air. I had already been on an emotional knife edge for this reason alone. So with all now piling on top, I responded by getting as drunk as I possibly could. The Judge Roy Bean bar in Simi was providing some solace with the opportunity to drink and monoplise an internet based jukebox with seemingly unlimited choice of songs. That is until the karaoke started up and my selections were gone. Replaced by a din of badly executed mediocre songs, or worse, a rare good song being butchered badly by some egotistical local who insisted on sharing their lack of talent with us all. I went from subdued melancholy drunk to one who was becoming abusive and aggressive. Steve and Morne dragged me out of the bar. While it had become an offensive place to be, it represented the only bar in Simi that I could keep drinking. And that was what I wanted. So I left on the assurance that we would stop at a liquor store, where I then picked up a bottle of Wild Turkey and half a dozen beers. The guys came to my room with me where we all continued drinking. I played some clumsy guitar and wallowed in my mood. After they left, I got another beer and got on the phone to Tori. Having already ranted god knows what down the phone from the men’s room at Judge Roy Bean’s, I then proceeded to half plead and half order her and the kids out of the house for Friday’s impending bushfire day. My fear was overtaking me that with all of my income being taken away, the next thing to go could easily be my family courtesy of a fire. I began to understand how those guys sleeping in the gutter find themselves in that position. They were once a child, And a student. And a family man. Who had obviously experienced a series of major events that their minds could not deal with. They have given up. Felt that all had been taken away from them and they had nothing left that mattered. I could see how it could happen. I fell into drunken slumber some time around 3 knowing that I had to be in the office for a 9am meeting. It was not one of my finest days.

The next day was a physical struggle. I somehow made it in for 9am, feeling emotionally hollow and physically just hanging in there. I mostly stared blankly in the afternoon while listening to Sheila explain the predicament of the RFP and HP’s plans to take over security offerings for their customers. It just kept on going though I felt a relief that Tori had responded to my pleas and had plans to leave the house on Friday. At least my family would be ok.

And so the week went, until Friday when thanks to Sheila and Lisa a glimmer of optimism was pointed out on the horizon. In fact there were opportunities to be had. Perhaps it could be the dawn of something bigger and better. A new focus. A different way of doing things. I started to make the climb from the bottom of the emotional pit. It’s going to be a tough period. My fight will be to maintain my independence. I have a new canvas to fill with whatever I want. New work challenges that could be more fruitful than those of the past and in new locations. More of a focus on my core business which was sometimes suffering due to heavy demands from the BT job. More time for guitar, writing, qigong, family, listening to music, headspace, fitness. Koyaanisqatsi is the Hopi Indian word meaning “crazy life” or “life out of balance”. I guess that’s been me for a good chunk of the last 5 years. Now I have an opportunity to tilt the scales back. There will still be travel. And busyness verging on chaos. I can’t help myself. But there will now be proper room for the things that are the real reasons for living.

Despite my over reactive feelings of melancholy doom in the past week, I am at least happy with my external responses. An embracing of an opportunity to have a holiday with Tori in England and France. And on hearing of the loss of a major piece of revenue from Telstra I immediately booked return flights for all the family for a three week trip to the US. When I was a child and Dad travelled internationally for business a couple of years in a row, he promised that the next year he would take Nat and I with he and Mum and we would go to Disneyland. Before that could happen, his company was bought, he was laid off and the trip never happened. I don’t blame him for that. Circumstances arose beyond his control. But I don’t want to be part of some generational déjà-vu. Do it while you can. Because you never know what the future, or the present, may bring.

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