Time isn’t something I normally get too worked up about.
Sure, I find it surprising I’m eight months from being the father of a college graduate and a second high school graduate, and every now and then I’m caught off-guard by that gray-haired guy staring back from the mirror. I’m in no hurry to get older, but I’m at peace with the process.
Still, trading in the 5775 Dressler’s calendar for 5776 is tougher than in most years.
It’s not because I likely have more calendars in my past than in my future, and it’s not because 5775 will be marked in my personal Book of Life as the best ever. It was not. There was a run of about 14 years from my senior year in high school through the end of 2000 where life just kept getting better.
But 5775 was the year I got back on track. I didn’t spend 40 years in a desert, but there were times after I left the Atlanta Jewish Times in mid-2008 when a few laps around the Sinai seemed preferable to the series of unfulfilling jobs, freelance assignments and long periods of underemployment. We shouldn’t let our jobs define us or become so dominant in our lives that we feel empty or guilty or worthless when they’re gone, but there are a lot of things we do that we shouldn’t.
People ask me what I was doing in those years away from the AJT, and I usually mumble a few things from my LinkedIn page before concluding, “Nothing worthwhile.”
That’s the painful truth: I can look back at more than six years of my life and not point to one thing with pride.
Yes, I helped raise the kids, but if I’m honest, they’re such smart, well-adjusted boys that all I had to do was get out of the way and let them become themselves. I could have messed them up; I couldn’t have improved them.
My wife likes to give me credit for holding the household together while she was pursuing professional fulfillment. But she’s so good at what she does that only unnecessary guilt about the limited time she had for our self-sufficient sons could have slowed her down. And as for holding the household together, well, just watch out for falling trees and collapsing decks and floors if you ever visit our house.
When I make myself look back at that period between times at the AJT, I see the things I didn’t do. I didn’t write the great American novel, languishing around Page 40 for more than a decade. I didn’t have the drive to start my own business, although I never lacked for ideas. I didn’t develop into a dominant poker pro or even a winning poker player.
But then an email came from Michael Morris a couple of months into 5775, and suddenly I was back where I know I’m meant to be, doing the job with the skills G-d granted me to make the biggest contribution I can to my community.
Back at the editor’s desk, I’ve made plenty of mistakes — more errors of omission than commission, I think, but too many of both — and I ask forgiveness of everyone I have wronged or offended.
But I’m still here. No, 5775 wasn’t the best year of my life, not even close, but I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated a good year so much. So pardon me if I spend a few extra minutes looking back before embracing our new friend, 5776.