Thursday, March 10, 2016

Before I turn 40...

As I approached the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016, I did a little introspection.  I started to think about not just the personal shortcomings that I want to fix, but the things that I want to do.  I also had the realization that I am 35, and in 4 1/2 years, I will be 40.  It is not that I fear turning any age, but when I was little, I looked at my great-grandparents, and knew they were in their 80s, and that seemed ancient.  One grandfather died in his late 50s, the other in his early 70s.  I am halfway to 70, so my little "aha" moment may have started a mini-midlife crisis. 

When I was in college, one of the things that made me choose winemaking over vet medicine and the priesthood, was the realization that we do not live forever, and the idea of having two or three professions is very difficult, to say the least.  This line of thought prompted me to do some real thinking.  I took the idea of New Year's resolutions, and I tumbled it into a list of things that I want to do before I am 40.  I broke it up into areas of faith, finance, family, fitness (running), career, and a miscellany file.  I even built up a reading list of books that I want to go through in the next few years.  There is one item that has been bugging me today:  I put down that I want to be done with my corporate winemaking career before I am 45, preferably sooner. 

I want to be independent.  I want to be able to express my enological creativity with the grapes from the ranch, which is ultimately an expression of my family's hard work for decades.  I want to be free from the mundane, the ineptitude, the stupidity, and the unimaginative machinations of corporate minions. 

What brings this on?  I have learned my trade through corporate winemaking, both good and bad.  Being in Corporate America has its advantages; a paycheck every 2 weeks or month, paid benefits, and so on.  However, at the end of the day, even the best employee is just that, an employee.  Someone who is a number in the HR database, just as replaceable as a burnt out pump, sucked in tank, or beat up press.  If companies merge, and people's jobs are made redundant, there is at best an attempt to be fair about picking the best (i.e. lowest cost, highest profit, most productive) employee, and deep-sixing the loser as quickly and humanely as possible.  The shareholders must get their dividends at all cost. I did not spend an extra 3 years of my life in grad school and deny myself other careers and callings to be someone else's burnt-out pump after 30 years service.  

Monster Winery and the others in the Cohort have been sold to a New Company.  Today was The Day of Promotions, Demotions, Transfers, and New Org Charts.  Monster Winery was largely unscathed, except for a couple of colleagues. I like working with these folks, and do not want to see their livelihoods lost.  If they lose their jobs, The Company will move on, and the rejected get to pull themselves up by the bootstraps. 

45 seems like a reasonable time to get out by.  It must be absolute.  By then, I will be middle-aged, but not too old to be scared and stuck.  I will not give Corporate America my entire working life.  I cannot; I deserve more.  My family deserves more. 

It is Lent; so I must focus on increased prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  Tonight, my prayer is for my friends, that they can keep their jobs.   Pray that we can find the courage to seek the will of God and to stay true to our calling.

Pax et bonum,

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