Life is funny sometimes. Just when you think that things are going in one direction, something happens, and fate intervenes. I sometimes wonder about the infinite number of events that led me, step by step, from the original 20 Prospect to my virtual 20P here in Minnesota. So many little things had to happen along the way for me to end up in St. Paul one February evening in 1992 visiting a dear friend from home, going out for Pizza and some beers with his friends from the lab, and meeting the future Mrs. 20 Prospect. So many little things could have gone the other way, and I could have been in countless other places on that day and time, and we might never have met, and this life might have flowed into an entirely different direction. But it didn’t.
I was reminded of all this yesterday, when out of the blue my dark corporate overlords approached me with a proposal. A potential promotion and relocation to run a small business that we acquired (conquered?) last year in California. I was flattered, and flabbergasted. The offer itself was yet another instance of the seeming randomness of fate. Some background…
After we acquired this company last year, we sent a young and rising manager out there to become the new general manager of the business. He was about my age, but much more motivated and career oriented than I have ever been. Let’s face it, what success I have had has happened despite my disdain for corporate life, not because of any great effort on my part. This was not the case with this colleague. He had worked hard, and earned this promotion. It seemed like a good fit, and by all accounts he was doing well in his first year out there running the business. But 2 weeks ago, while he was out on a ride with his cycling club, riding in a long single file line down a well marked road for cyclists through Santa Clarita, a drunk driver crossed the road into their lane and ran through their group. They had no chance. 5 were hit, 2 are hospitalized, and he was killed. There but for the grace of God…
It was a shock and a blow to many of us in the company and a reminder that in one instant a life can be snuffed out. As a cyclist it is yet another reminder that you can do everything right. Ride in the right place, in the right way, with the right equipment, and still become a casualty of someone elses recklessness.
Those thoughts of the seeming randomness of fate ran through my mind when they approached me yesterday to see if I would be interested in moving out there to take over, and try to replace him. I was humbled, and honored to be asked. It would be a promotion for me, and a huge step up in challenge. To be quite honest, it is the kind of role I would embrace. The business has been hurting from the downturn in the economy, and now with the sudden tragic loss of the general manager, I am sure they are hurting in other ways as well. A part of me would embrace the chance to try to repair and fix some of that brokenness. If would give meaning to an otherwise pretty meaningless corporate clamoring for profits. As a disillusioned cog in the corporate machine, I seek more profound meaning whenever, and wherever I can find it. So it is with regret that I have to decline this opportunity.
It looks like a beautiful place. I am certain it would be a wonderful challenge and a boon to my “career” (if you can call slackerdom a career). But no. Minnesota is our home. It is where our family is. It is where our life, and our roots have been planted. I don’t want to pull up those roots, and put our family through that kind of upheaval. I know that “people do it all the time”. But not me. Not anymore.
So forgive the reflections on fate this morning. It’s one of those mornings on the front porch. A time to sip coffee and reflect, and be thankful for all the things we take for granted. A family, friends, a connection to the world, and a place that can be called home.