Each Friday, I post Flashback Friday, where I use St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Examen as a guide and usually ask the following questions: For what are you least grateful this past week? For what are you most grateful this past week?
Again this week, as I have done several times in the past what I’m least grateful for and most grateful for are one and the same thing. Yesterday, I resigned my position as a correspondent with the daily newspaper where I’ve worked for the last four years and five months, because my hours are increasing at the library where I have been working for the last year and 10 months. Naturally I am grateful that I am able to be making more money (even if it’s minimal) than I was with the paper and feel relieved after 15 years of working on and off, mostly on, in the newspaper business that I am cutting what might be the last cord with that business.
Yet I would not be honest with myself or you if I didn’t share the other feel I have: sadness. I remember in high school idolizing a reporter at a daily newspaper and thinking that some day I’d like to be like him.. I especially enjoyed his columns and continued to follow him when he moved to a weekly newspaper in later years. In high school, I had the opportunity to write a column for our school in that weekly newspaper. I remember the joy of clipping out those first columns and putting them in a scrapbook.
Years later, after college, I started my career, such as it was and would become, in newspapers at the same daily my idol had worked — but as an unpaid intern. I mentioned this to a coworker at the library last night and he told me for what I had been getting paid per story at the paper where I just resigned, it was almost as if I had come full circle. In a way, it’s true, except for one thing: my outlook on the newspaper industry and the world.
When I began at the daily, I was full of hope. I am now world-weary worn, not as enamored with the hub and bub of the newsroom, because I’ve been there — abandon hope all ye who enter here. For those who have survived the axes, there is no respite. You just keep going because it’s all you’ve done for decades, you don’t know any better…but you’re in too deep to pull yourself out of the quicksand.
I am not one of those who have survived the axes, but for the past four years and five months, even after the ax had fallen on me nearly a year before that, I was still stuck in that mire. I didn’t know any better but to cling to that one constant in my life: newspapers. What I didn’t see, because part of me still had hope, is that one thing was dragging me down into the miry clay.
Christian contemporary musician Steve Taylor had a song in the 1990s that said, “Since I gave up hope, I feel a lot better.” Today I can relate. I’m giving up hope for the newspaper industry as I cut this last cord to the industry for which I once had such high hopes — and dreams, dreams that never materialized — and I’m feeling a lot better.
I think it might be time to sing, sing a new song:
So for what are you least grateful and most grateful this past week?