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A Moment of Paralysis

Maybe this was just a rough patch, a blip in an otherwise healthy relationship.

All that was missing was my signature.

I stared at the blank space near the bottom of the page, pen in hand, my wrist tingling with anticipation.

The letter itself was simple and to-the-point. It was full of sentences like, “Thank you for the opportunity,” and “I look forward to continuing our professional relationship.” Sentences designed to be forgotten and inoffensive.

They were nothing like the sentences in the first draft, poetically scrawled on a Starbucks napkin between dribbles of coffee and stains of tears. It was beautiful; the kind of sweeping manifesto that would change the world. Everything problematic about the job was articulated lyrically, as if the letter was designed to accompany an orchestral score. It began with naïve optimism: high, light-hearted notes dancing across a page. It turned to a minor chord for the middle, forcing an uncomfortable cringe. And it ended triumphantly: The good guys won; the hero saved the day. It was not safe, and it certainly wasn’t the kind of resignation letter an accountant would write. I loved it.

And still, I stared at the bland black and white page in front of me, formatted professionally and full of short, formal, declarative sentences, most of which were untrue. “I am grateful to have learned so much during my time with the company.”

Was I really doing this? Could I walk away from a predictable, stable routine full of security and the promise of long-term success?

Maybe this was just a rough patch, a blip in an otherwise healthy relationship. I had invested so much of myself on this path. I had given tremendously: my time, more of my time, my late nights, my frequent flyer miles, my dinners and dates, my vacations and sleep.

But in exchange I had success and confidence. I had a clearly defined purpose and an easy answer to the question, “What do you do?”

Maybe I should wait. Maybe I should think about it for another day, another week. Yes, I should wait. Why was I in such a hurry? There was still plenty to figure out before I took such a drastic step.

But I couldn’t relax my hand or stop the tingling in my wrist. I couldn’t make myself put down the pen or move the letter from its place of prominence on my desk. My body wouldn’t cooperate, despite the logical and convincing arguments my brain continued to make.

With a dramatic flourish, I scrawled my name after “With much appreciation and kind regards,” the lone interesting and beautiful addition to the page. Then I exhaled. And felt the triumphant music swell inside me.

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