A Leap of Faith: Part III – The Knock

4 03 2010

So here I am, on this gorgeous beach in Costa Rica, fulfilling one of my lifelong dreams… that of learning how to surf, and through it all I am haunted. The thought of returning to that job, to that life, to that identity seems unbearable, and so I worry… and panic… and I stress about it.

One day, I am mid-conversation with my father and his girlfriend, Judy. We are discussing happiness in life, when the question comes up… “Why don’t you want to go home?”

It’s not as easy to answer in that moment as it is today. At that moment I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was all about. I lied to myself and said the weather was too beautiful here, and I wanted to keep surfing, but the truth was that it had been pouring rain (I mean real rain forest rain) in buckets for days now. There was no surfing, and the weather was shit. Finally I said it, “I hate my job and I can’t bear the thought of doing it for a single moment longer.”

“So what would you rather be doing?”

I thought about it. I thought about Kurt Simon, and making $75/hour to teach computers. I thought about how easy it was to fix technological problems. I thought about how much I had learned being in relationship with Kurt, and other clients of mine. And I knew it… I knew what I wanted to do. “I want to do my computer work full-time.”

“And what would it take to make that dream a reality?”

I thought about it seriously. I knew it wasn’t out of my reach… A stretch yes, but not out of my reach. What would it take? Money, pure and simple. Money to pay the bills for at least the first two months while I built up my client roster. Money to buy some parts and print business cards. Money to promote myself. Money for business licenses and DBAs. Money, money, money…

I thought about working at my job day after day, wasting away in an office building making someone else rich. I thought about leaving the house for work at 7AM, and walking in the door with my daughter, and a Kentucky Fried Chicken Bag under my arm at 8PM or sometimes even 9PM. Too tired to do anything but collapse on the couch and turn on the idiot box. Too broke to fix my car, or own nice clothes. Barely making rent. Fluorescent lights and parking cards and frustrated, obnoxious co-workers and short lunch breaks and brown bag or fast food lunches and and and…..

ENOUGH!!!! I turned and looked my Dad and Judy right in the eyes and said “$5,000. For me to make that dream a reality would take $5,000.”

I don’t know what I expected to gain from blurting this number out. At the time it seemed like an unattainable sum of money, $5,000. In retrospect, by today’s standards it’s not all that much, but it seemed like a lot to me then, and I certainly wasn’t expecting what Judy said next:

“I’ll get my checkbook.”

And she did. She got up right then and wrote out a check for me for $5,000. I was just getting to know this woman, and she was handing me a check… and it wasn’t a joke. I knew the check was good. I promised to pay her back as soon as I could and she just waved me off…

“Whenever you can… no rush.”

And just like that I had a lot of things to do and think about and prepare for. Just like that everything looked different. I called my boss and told him I had been unavoidable detained and stayed an extra week.

I enjoyed that last week of the trip the most. I had the best meals, great times with my Dad and Judy, went out to discotheques and danced the night away, surfed, and explored. We even went on a canopy trip riding on ziplines through the treetops of the rain forest… and then it was time to come home.

That first day back at work is seared in my mind. I will never forget it. I walked up the steps, and into my bosses’ office and looked him right in the eye. He said it first.

“You’re done here, aren’t you?”

It wasn’t said in a mean way, or in an angry tone, it was just complete acceptance…. it was clear that something had changed in me. The boy who had left LA 3 weeks early was not the man who walked back off of that flight, or into this office.

His words hung in the air for a few moments. I savored them, heard them echo back in my ears, felt the true power behind them….

“Yes. I’m done.”

“But what about my computers” he asked, “Who’s going to take care of them?”

“I will.” I said, “I’ll just be on the clock.”

And I gathered my things and I left. And that was that.

NEXT: A Leap of Faith Part IV: The Career