On the heels of what I would consider to be one of my worst days of my working life, I came across – quite by accident – exactly the thing I needed at exactly the time I needed it.
Yesterday had been led up to for over a week: some mumbles, some stirring, then a confirmation. The ominous news came in dribs and drabs, and slowly put a couple of months of activity into sharp relief. The policy change here, the meeting there, the strange disparate directions somewhere else. All of those things started to add up.
And then the cinderblock came crashing through the roof. All questions, any ambiguity washed away. For me, I’m fine. A little rattled, but fine. Rattled in very much the same way I can imagine I’d respond if a cinderblock actually did come crashing through my roof. Anticipated as a possibility, but honestly not considered as a probability. And certainly not handled in the way I’d want to be associated with it. In this case, my situation is unaffected. My work life will remain pretty much in tact – perhaps with some additional responsibilities or roles, but sometimes it’s about the way things happen and not what happens that affect you most.
So, my day yesterday ended and my day today began with all kinds of questions and doubts and wonderments regarding what, if any, next steps should be taken.
I often go for a walk in the morning, a little before starting work for the day. It helps get the blood pumping, the brain active. On these walks I’ll listen to a podcast or two to catch up with the news of the day or to explore an idea or two. Podcasts are phenomenal things. When I was traveling a lot, I’d listen to audiobooks – 4 hour stints in the car turned into listening to half a book. Now that I don’t travel as much, podcasts wind up being a better bet for me: easily digestible chunks of information or ideas dissected in 15, 30, sometimes 45 or 60 minute chunks.
On Tuesdays the NPR Politics Podcast lands in my feed, so I listen to that on my walk for some coffee. That usually runs out on my way back, so I’ll listen to the Up First podcast, which is basically the morning top of the hour news broadcast. This often leaves me with a little additional time before I’m back at home base with nothing to listen to. It just so happened that today I happened upon a podcast from December 20, 2016. I’m not entirely sure how, but it looked just interesting enough that I decided to give it a listen.
It was on the “All Songs Considered” podcast and entitled “The Martin Atkins Minute.” Growing up, I was a bit of a pseudo-punk. Not a hardcore Sex Pistols guy like some of my friends who wore leather jackets and spiked hair, but I enjoyed it and at the mention of the band “Public Image Ltd.” Caught my attention.
This was the story of how Martin Atkins went from being with a successful band, to digging ditches, ultimately to be planting trees on the property of Bon Jovi’s drummer. The culmination of consequences of bad choices, to wind up in one of the more strange and humiliating situations one can imagine, and being reminded of it. None of this was part of my experience the past week or so – until the last few words. He says something to the effect that he wanted to share his story in case You [the listener] were having a Sh!**y day too. Things will get better.
That spoke to me. A message sent some 13 months ago was finally received at the time I needed to hear it. Things will get better. For my affected colleague, for me, for my team, and my company. I don’t know how it will, just that it will. Every day isn’t the past day, or even the past few days.
Here’s the podcast: https://www.npr.org/player/embed/506298934/506298965