One day when I was a daily news reporter, I showed up at the scene of a frozen homeless man who had died of exposure. The cop said the guy was a “bumsickle.” I laughed.
I had somehow become one of “them,” the burnouts who don’t care anymore. The thought that I had devolved into what I had once despised made me ill. So I set a course to quit the job I had once loved. There are only so many corpses and house fires in a reporter anyway. There had to be more to life.
But exactly when is it time to make a change? I think most of us instinctively know that it’s more a matter of stopping the big rolling vehicles we call our lives and making the turn. For some it’s the quick turn of a sports car, for others it’s like turning a cruise ship. Still others can’t seem to grab the wheel.
When I quit most people thought I was crazy. I simply told the boss, bought an airfare and a Eurail pass, and headed for Europe. Everyone wanted to know what was wrong. It was more about what was right. I needed to sip coffee at a Paris café, write letters and think. My conclusion after months on the continent: to stay in journalism—without the corpses.