276,915 Minutes

What’s something you love?  Something you enjoy doing, or something you can’t wait to take another bite of.  Maybe it’s someone you love, who you can’t wait to see again.  Imagine being told you can’t have that anymore.

You probably don’t have to imagine it, it’s happened to us all.  As with everything in life, it’s more about how you react to losing that thing that has the greatest impact on what comes next.

The quick math on 276,915 minutes puts us back around 9:45AM on August 2nd of last year.  It’s a moment that’s familiar and mundane at the time, yet until now stood out for specific reasons.  My girlfriend Ashley and I had just wrapped up the last break on our radio morning show, and were preparing to meet with our bosses before heading to Michigan for the weekend to visit family.  It was also the last time I was going to do what I loved for a long time.  That’s when the clock started.

Anyone in life, and specifically radio, knows that change is inevitable.  That morning we were told the station was going in a new direction, and we were going to be training for it’s launch in about a month’s time.  The details were purposefully vague at the time, so we left for the weekend with our heads spinning with possibilities.

Upon our return the training began (until being rudely interrupted by the removal of several wayward wisdom teeth), and so it continued until a Monday morning a few weeks afterwards.  That’s when I got the call to meet with the bosses again.

Being let go from a job is never fun.  The reasoning behind the dismissal is usually just a forgettable side dish; in the end it doesn’t matter why it’s happening.  A job is, of course, just a job, and you eventually land on your feet.  It’s another thing to be let go from something you love.

I’ve written about the more than eventful life moments from last summer already, so I won’t belabor those points again.  What I will focus on is that feeling of lost love.  The loss of control over something that even though you knew was never 100%, felt 99.44% sure and was woven into the fabric of what made you who you are.  For more than eight years I had been in radio in some form or another, and it was just as much about my love and passion for doing it as it was about making a living.  As we’ve always heard, find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.  That might not have always felt like the truth, but it was far and away the closest I’d ever come to having that feeling.  I had just been told I couldn’t do it anymore.

The following weeks were spent in a slightly disoriented state; the enjoyment of not getting up at 4AM every morning was a welcome adjustment, but adapting to a new “routine” was tougher than I thought.  Add to that fact that my girlfriend was still employed at the very station I had been removed from.  I was getting consistent reminders on a daily basis that the “love” that had dumped me was getting along just fine without me.  Anyone’s who’s been in a breakup knows the more you hang on to moments and contact the harder it is to let it go.  Chatting with her was like hearing about the ex who dumped me, and turning on the radio was like late night drunk dialing an old love whose number you should have lost long ago.

Like any good split the stages of emotion came and went as time progressed.  Life moved forward with moments to look forward to and things to get done.  I took a while to decompress and enjoy the “freedom” of not having to get up everyday at specific times to do specific things.  Over time, I got used to the new routine, and started planning the “post-radio” chapter of my life.  As I moved forward, I always kept a couple thoughts in my mind:

Never burn a bridge.

Attitude is a choice, not a result.

We all get angry in our lives, we all feel scared or defeated, we all have moments of doubt or regret, but those two thoughts helped keep me grounded and moving forward in the right frame of mind.  It helped me get on with things without getting bogged down in what “used to be.”  Life is about oppourtunities, and the more people you can work with, the more chances you’ll get.

As the calendar flipped to 2014 plans were laid out for new career choices.  What would I tolerate, what wouldn’t I want to do, what would I like to do, and what would I really love to do.  The last one was always clear.  I wanted back into the studio.  I had continued events like calling the marathon and voicing commercials and videos, I blogged and tweeted and Instagramed, I kept up on the news and gossip and local events, but like a true love lost, there was a spot missing that could only be filled by getting back behind the mic.

Resumes were written and re-written.  Demos were shaped and honed.  Leads came and went, and optimistic potential withered to pessimistic disappointment.  The more time passed, the more I became comfortable in knowing my time had probably passed.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago.  A phone call out of the blue.  It was the “ex.”  A meeting was set-up, an offer was made, and a job was accepted.  After more than eight months of trying to claw my way back in, it was all put together in about a week.  Nine years after I had started in the business, I was getting back in on the ground floor with the same company that had moved on without me the year before.  Some people would say “screw ’em, they didn’t want you.”  I would say if you lost something you loved and were given a chance to get it back, wouldn’t you want to try again?

I went in for training last week, learning the slight differences in how things were run compared to before.  Last night was my first shift back.  I arrived early, put down my bag and got organized while the current host finished her shift and scrambled out the door for a big station event.  Everyone from the station was going to be there, and my job was to hold down the fort back at camp.  Within minutes, I was the only person left in the building.

I took a minute to walk around the station, soaking in all the moments that had come before.  I grabbed some water from the same cooler I’d used back in 2005, with the same mug I filled with coffee to keep me awake at 5AM.  I went in the room where my girlfriend and I had spent five mornings a week talking and working together.  I went back in the studio and sat in the same chair I had sat in last summer, the last place I was sitting before I was let go.  Familiar and different, reflective and new, all at the same time.  One thing I knew for sure: I had missed it.  It felt good to be back.

Without getting overly inspirational, I’ll share this: If you truly love something, don’t ever completely let it go.  Use that love and passion to motivate yourself for other things.  Fight for the things you want, knowing that even if you might not get them, something else might come along you never would have noticed before.  When you find something you love, pour yourself into it.  You’ll be a better person for it.

It was almost time to go on.  I swung the mic over, put on my headphones and took a deep breath.  I opened the mic.  I looked up at the clock.  It was just after 5PM.

It had been 276,915 minutes since I’d last done the thing I loved so much.

Stop the clock. relationship relationships

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