Mid-Fifties Beach Bum

So, it happened. Dream gig of CEO in ideal turnaround company pulling on all my decades of experience of people, customers and getting shit done. New investors investing. All signs, measures and “gut feel” heading in a positive direction after 3 years of real hard slog. What happened? You guessed it. Dumped out on my arse. And now laying face down, sprawn, on a beach, on a Monday afternoon.

More of the gory details of my departure later, and believe me some are gory. They deserve full explanation in time as well, as the main intent of this blog was to bear witness to my bemused journey up the greasy corporate pole, ideally all the way to the supposed pinnacle, the coveted CEO gig. I am sure that a dramatic slither back down said pole will be decidedly more entertaining to the avid reader than the ascent. My embittered ramblings may hopefully also be cathartic, and help me decompress from what has been a pretty fraught and full on ride over the last 3 or so years, as the irregularity of my blog posts over that period will pay testament.

For now though, to the beach. A vast, dramatic, wonderfully empty beach. In addition to my own non-bronzed frame, the total current inhabitants of said beach are sporadic at best, populated by the archetypal man and dog combo, some exotic looking sea birds, and a sole bored looking lifeguard regaled in his garish yellow and red outfit, presumably to frighten the birds. As I write the full quota of occupants are now completed by the furtive new additions, tiptoeing off guiltily to a far flung corner of the beach, with the distinct aura of an illicit pre copulating couple, finding a quiet spot away from prying eyes, cell phone coverage and any existing partners tracking cookies. Despite this it is undoubtedly an idyllic location for me to collapse and burn, all on my own, and to contemplate how the hell I got here and what the hell to do next.

In truth, it’s still simply a vacuous relief at the moment. The come down from the positively orchestrated but painful “leaving day” has been gradual, and I will not begin to pretend that I’ve worked everything out and am mentally healthy and positive, because I’m clearly not. But right now I’m here, in this isolated rhythmic oasis, and I’m no longer stressed to the eyeballs. Most importantly I’m doing a pretty good impression of doing sweet FA.

Way back in time, during a phase of delusional early career naivety, I would proudly proclaim to all who’d listen, that at 40, a beach bum I would be. Running a beach bar was the self proclaimed aim, in some far flung exotic location. I fully believed it, and even more concerning, yet perhaps a symbol of my ability to inspire people that would come in handy later, so did those who I told. The intent was real and yet the plan never really took hold. Career, “quality” of lifestyle, and partners raised eyebrows put paid to that pipe dream. Yet from time to time when catching up with old colleagues from that early career period, I still get the question about why it didn’t happen. Given the events of recent weeks and months I can’t help feel, laying here, that I’ve missed a big opportunity by letting my dream get buried. While I’m not sure the beach bar concept would fly on this beach today, the overwhelming feeling is one of regret.

Reflection and chilling is what I should be doing. Yet reflection, together with it’s evil cousin regret, can be both gratifying and paralysing. In times when your mental capability is at its most stretched and vulnerable, the velocity and scale of the fluctuation between the two can be gravely unsettling. Knowing what to do for your own good is one thing, being able to do it is a whole different ball game. Events play over and over in the mind. Like Groundhog Day but without the funnies. If only I’d have been stronger, if only I’d trusted my gut more, if only I’d have called out stuff when I saw it irrespective of the consequences. Whoa there! Diving into this spiral is exactly what a bona fide beach bum would not do. We make our choices and do the best we can. Sometimes shit just happens. Probably to everyone, although some hide it better than others, and some are immune to seeing it, instead dazzled by their own ego and wonderfulness. I still think on balance I’d rather be someone who does review, reflect and even regret with honesty. Especially when there’s the soothing sound of the sea to ease any pain.

Which brings me back to the whole point of being here. Sometimes it is ok to just stretch out into nothingness and find space for yourself. Nature, as well as being our increasingly harshest critic, is always our best friend. Days like this are a start point for whatever comes next. Though the mid fifties may feel a bit late in the day for beach bum revelations, in reality there is undoubted truth in the adage that it is never too late for anything. Not to say that my early career dream is the solution, but right now just relaxing, de-stressing and working out that there ARE options is a good enough start. And after the start then who knows?

Hopefully the unburdening of that bit of big news coupled with the desire for a new start will have the added bonus of enabling my somewhat stagnant creative writing juices to flow once again like the tide. There are plenty of tales still to regale. Will my urge surge like the couple in the dunes? We shall see…

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