Saturday, June 28, 2008

trophies in the trash

We're cleaning out our personal effects from the office so the new sub-leaser can move in.  

School pictures of our kids, shots of recruits on promotion days, snaps of us with various "important" people are still framed and stuffed into boxes littered with aspirin, tape, CDs, staples, tissues and batteries.  We're deciding how many of the twenty (TWENTY!?!?) three-ring binders to keep, what items to donate, and how to get the plants and the two pieces of furniture I want now in only one trip.

I'm scanning the piles of the past five years of our lives and I feel like we're emptying out grandpa's house.  "I want to keep this dish, oh, these are Tim's, that belongs to Jim, sure throw that old thing away, remember when we..."  There's a bittersweet quality to leaving a business, like leaving a house where you can't take everything with you.  

Trophies that we once held in pride now sit in a dumpster.  Susie's sweater smells like something the cat dragged in, yet can I really throw it away?  I don't even know where she moved.  When our sub-leaser moves out, should we sell the furniture on Craig's List or eBay?  Our current supply of coffee filters will last two full years!  Woo hoo!

So much of our business is irrevocably tied to this city, these people, our friends.  We never did business with strangers, even if we didn't know you at first.  We never did anything wrong.  We did our best every day, gave 110%, remained ethical and always truthful.  We always taught, believing that the best clients were ones who could make informed decisions.  We always thought that if we did what was right and just for our clients, that it would be enough.

It wasn't.

We learned a great deal.  We made some good friends.  We better understand our strengths and weaknesses, so Hubby can head back into the corporate world with broader skills, and I can find a job doing what I love.

And yet today was a necessary oddity: tossing trophies into the trash.  Okay, I kept a few good ones. 

Like when my grandfather died and my dad sat at the kitchen table going through his billfold.  "One man's life reduced to the contents of a wallet," dad had said and pulled out each item to examine.  That was another bittersweet moment in time, the memory of watching my father mourn his papa by caressing the pictures, driver's license, and business and member's cards, as if he could still touch his father.  Connecting to him through the things he left behind.  

And, today another mourning.  The life of our business reduced to the contents of a dumpster and a few precious boxes brought home.  When it's all said and done, you only have the memories.  The things wear out or break, and sometimes you just have to throw some stuff away, because do you really want your third grade spelling bee trophy sitting on the mantlepiece when you're thirty?

It's time to move on.  It's time for new challenges, and more hours with the family.  It's time for us to give up the "when...then" thinking that accompanies every great adventure.  We must give up those dreams and hopes, but also I'll gladly give up those fears and rejections.

They say it's much harder on men, being laid off or closing a business.  So much of their ego is tied into work.  Please pray for Hubby as we move through these difficult weeks.  He's going to need the support.  Thanks.   

Please also vote for our sub-leaser, BJ Lawson: (US Congress, NC 4th District).

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