Monday, February 11, 2013

Day 16. Something You Always Think "What If" About

"What if" was exactly the thought going through my mind the other weekend.

I had a job I loved, something that was right up my alley. My work let me combine medicine with writing, a rare opportunity. And it provided me a decent income, which is important for anyone who has a child.

But things were not going well. Conflicts of interest made impossibilities of freedom and objectivity. Flying under the radar was key. There were irregularities that could not be proven but nevertheless contributed to the disquiet. Certain things didn't add up: A would be told this, B would be told that--separately, of course, so no one would be the wiser. Truth was sometimes sacrificed at the altar of convenience, in the name of "leadership." We were actually on the verge of going into a pitch with bogus credentials for three-quarters of our management team. As I scrolled down the draft of the pitch deck, a still small voice inside my head sadly asked: is this what we have become?

I walked away. Because the answer was yes.

I used to think that it was just my imagination that the company had changed and turned into a shadow of its ideals. But a few others who had been there with me when the company started had had the same feeling. Maybe we were just naive. Maybe we were so enthralled with the stars in our eyes, we forgot that even stars had life cycles. Black holes were stars once.

Over a hundred times that weekend, I asked myself: what if I hadn't written that email? What if I had just stayed on, for a couple more months, or a couple more years? What if all the companies in the world were like that, or even worse? What if I could still change things? What if I was doing the right thing, but at the wrong time? What if I was letting people down, my family most of all?

The priest that Sunday was kind enough to address my dilemma, albeit obliquely. "You have to take a stand," he said. And I was reminded of another saying: if you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything. And still another saying, a prayer: grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

I still don't have a firm answer to that saddest of questions: what if. I do know that I had reached my tipping point, that I had had enough. Come what may, I've made my stand, and perhaps the answer is in the peace that is slowly starting to settle in my soul.

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