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The Untitled Gary Hilborn Project - A Blog

Thirty-Three-Year-Old Gary

"Spectrum" a photo by Gary Hilborn. Copyright 2019. All Rights Reserved.


You guys, I have a confession to make. This isn't my first go at a blog. Approximately ten years ago, I wrote exactly four entries and then threw in the towel. For so long I couldn't remember where I'd posted those entries, and I couldn't find a backup copy of what I'd written. I felt sure those early ruminations were lost to the wind. And then earlier this week, I stumbled across some old Wordpress login credentials, and "presto!" A portal to the past was opened, and I was able to re-visit that often uncertain and somewhat terrifying time. With a few mouse clicks on my Mac, I was able to sit beside a Gary with a little less gray and look over his shoulder and read his innermost thoughts and fears.

For this week's entry, I've decided to share one of those old posts - dated June 14, 2009. Thirty-three-year-old Gary was still fighting to kick the meth addiction that had decimated his life for four years. Thirty-three-year-old Gary was sitting in a circle every morning with a group of other recovering addicts who were all doing their best to not pick up that day. Thirty-three-year-old Gary was standing on his own two feet with the help of more than a few friends. Thirty-three-year-old Gary knew he needed to follow his heart, but he wasn't sure he could trust his judgement after so many poor decisions.

Upon re-reading these entries, I felt compassion for thirty-three-year-old Gary, and I wanted to put my arm around him and let him know he was making the right call. He was so torn up over this choice. I wanted him to know that his decision to leave his real estate job was a good one. It was the right one. I wanted him to know to know that in the next ten years he would find his name on call sheets alongside his idols. The next decade would bring not only career satisfaction but the love of a good man (and a good dog). I wanted to let him know the three of them will have a beautiful and safe and comfortable home unlike any he'd thought possible. I wanted him to know he'd find himself confronted with many more decisions similar to the one he was then facing, and because of his courage at age thirty-three he'd know to trust his gut when it came time to pick a path. But mostly, after reading these early entries I wanted to thank thirty-three-year-old Gary for choosing his health and choosing his heart and taking those difficult steps on the long journey to a better future.

Here's a look at where I was then:

putting it to committee

June 14, 2009

Today is officially my last day as a real estate agent. I can’t lie. It has been a little difficult to not second guess this new course of action. Most of the time, I know I’ve made the right decision. However, every now and then I can’t help but question my choice.

I’ll be smiling and thinking about all of the possibilities before me when I’ll suddenly hear a little voice in my head ask, “Are you sure you’re being responsible by quitting?” To which an opposing voice replies, “Wouldn’t it be more irresponsible to continue turning your back on your talent and your passion?”

Believe me, there has been much soul searching involved in trying to answer these questions.

What I’ve ultimately realized is that I’ve stayed with this job, because I’ve been afraid of what other people would think if I quit. I’ve had so many conversations with my friends and family about how unhappy I’ve been. Heck, I’ve even outlined my misery to more than one acquaintance – possibly even a total stranger or two! I’m tired of talking about it. I can only imagine how tired they are of hearing it.

Now, I can see why I’ve spent months bitching and moaning to everyone within earshot. I was trying to build a case. I might as well have stood in the middle of Times Square and asked every passerby, “Do you have a minute to discuss why Gary should pursue his dreams?” I guess I thought if I got enough people to sign off on my choice I’d be absolved of any regret should things not go as I’d hoped.

In my mind, I saw this as stepping off a cliff. I’d assumed that gravity would do its thing and I’d fall into the abyss, forever leaving behind the stability and certainty of the earth beneath my feet. What a scary proposition!

Fortunately, quite the opposite has proven to be true. When I finally let go of the fear and made the choice, it was as if a 10,000lb weight was lifted from my shoulders. By taking responsibility for my own happiness, I’ve been given wings.

I may not have my feet on the ground, but I’ve got a great view of where I’d like to land.


featured photo credit: "Spectrum" by Gary Hilborn. Copyright 2019. All Right Reserved

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