Thursday, March 05, 2020

A letter from Darius

As part of my commitment to my OneWord, I want to do MORE to help make the world a better place. So when my church asked for volunteers to be pen pals for prisoners, I raised my hand.

After all, we shouldn't judge a person's entire life by his worst moment, and we should treat the least among us as we would treat the Lord.

But then I was paired with Darius, who is serving a life sentence for double homicide. I admit I was apprehensive. But I made the commitment, so I wrote to him.

Today, I got his first letter in response. It was humbling. He said he wished he had words bigger than "thank you" to express how it felt to have me take time out to write to him.

In my initial letter, I asked him about his spiritual path. He answered that he was raised Baptist and while he's drifted some during this stay in prison, he still believes in Christ. He reads occasionally and likes to play chess. He hopes someday to be free, though at 49 he's already spent more than half his life in prison. He hinted that he'd like help with his legal fees, but I'm ignoring that. He worries that I may never write back, but even so, he's grateful that I took the time that one time "to reach out."

I wrote back to him immediately. I let him know that I'm 62 -- hopefully dispelling any romantic notions he may have -- and how tough it is to be surrounded by nothing but millennials. I mentioned that, while I write for a living, it's a refreshing change of pace to express myself with handwritten words to a specific individual. I outlined my own spiritual path, that like him I was raised in a traditional Protestant congregation but I found it lacking because it didn't give me much opportunity to live my faith. I promised him I'd write him once/month.

We'll see how it progresses. But right now, it feels good. With really very little effort, I'm brightening someone's day and helping him feel better connected to the world outside the prison walls.

A hamster on a wheel

Last Friday, I got a big project at 3:45 PM. It covered three of our client's lesser lines of business. I worked Friday night, all day Sunday, and late into Monday. I resented having the project dumped on me so late -- our new management team had the projects for weeks before including me -- but I was also enthusiastic. Since the project emphasized the lesser lines of business, I felt it offered me an opportunity to really make a difference. I could help the client turn a greater profit in 2020 in three areas where they'd been struggling.

The presentation was Tuesday. Rumor had it that the client was pleased.

This afternoon, my boss and I were farting around on a website devoted to gossip about our client. Mostly it was just snark, but I saw a rumor that piqued my interest. Something about a merger with a Minnesota-based company. I guessed who it was and googled them, keystroking my client's name with theirs. I got the news as it was breaking.

My client is selling two of those three lines of business. And I just so happened to learn about it as it was happening, before our new management team even heard it.

So we're not going to win the business that was pitched Tuesday because the client's not going to be selling those products anymore. So I worked under pressure Friday night, Sunday and Monday for nothing.

Making me a hamster on a wheel, racing around, going nowhere.

It gets better. The client contacts who were my biggest fans are likely being laid off tomorrow. Making them hamsters, too.

I can't imagine that I'll have a job much longer. I may not have an advertising career anymore.But right now, I don't give a fuck. I'm emotionally exhausted.

An object in motion stays in motion

Worked out at lunchtime Wednesday! Pretty much had the place to myself,* so I took the opportunity to do floor exercises for my back, the hip adductor/abductor machine (also for my back) and 20 minutes on the bike for my ticker. It felt so gooooood!

When I got home from work, I didn't even have the urge to nap. Instead I did some paper work -- inputting my 2/29 finances into Quicken. Then I took out the garbage and collected quarters from the washers/dryers.

That's the value of MORE. I don't have to everything, just a little more. And I'll find myself moving toward my goals.

*Coronavirus fears, I guess. I wipe down the equipment before and after I use it and am sure to cough into a tissue. Beyond that, I'm trying not to make myself crazy with worry.