When I created the Running Soul in the Heartland blog two years ago, I began by writing a couple of essays that served as origin stories about the blog. The first post presented some reasons why I chose to resume blogging, and the second post presented some reasons why I chose to start running. I didn’t fully appreciate, however, that I was looking right past the minor crisis that was unfolding in my life at the time, and was more honestly the real reason for creating this blog. In hindsight, I can see more clearly what happened, so am documenting the story here as another essay.
In October of 2014, my employer announced to me and my fellow scientists in small molecule drug development that our current jobs would end in a few months. This is the employer for which I relocated to Indiana a dozen years earlier, at first to Lafayette and later to Indianapolis. I was worried, because I hadn’t expected to enter the job market ever again and I was remembering the many ways my life was disrupted after getting caught in a mass layoff of employees by my previous employer. I wasn’t panicking, though, because a few things were different this time around. For one thing, my current employer was offering some ‘new’ jobs for which we could apply and interview. The catch was that there were seventy-five fewer ‘new’ jobs than current jobs. This was simply the method that the company was using to downsize small molecule development. For another thing, if I didn’t manage to receive an offer of continued employment, I would technically enter retirement rather than unemployment, as one of the company’s available triggers for retirement was fifty-five years of age with ten years of service. I narrowly exceeded both criteria and could retire with enough of a pension to reduce the amount of financial compensation I would need in my next job.
After the shock of the announcement wore off in a day or two, I realized that navigating the process to receive one of the job offers was way more important than working on any of my research projects, and I updated my resume, practiced interviewing skills, and networked like crazy. Ultimately, I convinced management that I was one of their most valuable employees and their best option was to keep me around. I received one of the job offers and no longer needed to worry, but the experience challenged me in ways that were uncomfortable. I had confronted questions about what I would do if my employment was to end prematurely. Would I try to continue my career as a scientist and perhaps relocate again? Would I try to find a replacement job in Indianapolis, perhaps with part-time or contract work? Would I actually retire? I realized I didn’t have the answers.
Both during and after the employment process, I was wondering how I would spend my time if I wasn’t employed anymore. Creative writing was a hobby that had some appeal, and I speculated that I might write essays about spirituality, spiritual practices, and other topics that interested me. I was once a member of the worship team for a church congregation, assisting in worship services and occasionally writing and delivering sermons, and wouldn’t have minded having a blog as a new outlet to express some thoughts and ideas. As I reflect on the circumstances, I realize that my decision to train for and run my first full marathon also came out of the situation. I registered for the Monumental Marathon around the time that I started this blog.
My ‘new’ job had the same supervisor, same responsibilities, and same projects, and was in reality nothing more than a continuation of my old job. I relaxed and gradually eased away from trying to answer post-employment questions. This Running Soul in the Heartland blog evolved to become just another running blog like so many others on the web, with training logs and race reports and other running related content, which wasn’t my original intention.
Then yesterday, in February of 2017, my employer announced to me and my fellow scientists in small molecule drug development an optional repeat of the process. It’s voluntary this time, but I could use the process to enter retirement with thirty-four weeks salary as severance pay. No, I’m not going to volunteer, but there are those questions again, looking for answers. And there is this blog …