On the Horizon
It will probably be ok.
This has been my mantra for nearly sixteen months now.
It wasn’t a phrase I believed per se. Rationally, logically, reasonably, there was no reason to express that statement nor particularly embody it.
But it was true. Probably. I knew I sucked at probability. But probably.
It isn’t ok. Not really. But it will be. Surely.
If you’re counting (and I’m not but this is a writing exercise so I checked) we’re in month sixteen of Covid.
And oh how far we’ve come.
We’ve completely torn all semblance of society down to its component parts. In a moment’s notice we were forced to label ourselves essential or non-essential.
We’ve turned the idea of ‘productivity’ on its head. Those that are working from home are getting more done and feeling more connected with their families.
We turned the idea of hygiene and mask wearing from a fringe to a mainstream idea (it should have been a mandatory/compulsory thing but I kinda get the ‘cultural resistance’ cuz ‘murica? Sigh…)
The zeitgeist has managed to turn climate change from an abstraction into a really big fucking deal (Big ups to all my homies putting up with triple digit heat out in the west right now it literally isn’t cool)
We didn’t all make it. Millions are still in danger of losing their livelihoods and lives to the global pandemic.
Still, the joy of hugging and laughing with friends in enclosed spaces was something I took for granted. Leaving the house without a cloth mask in my pocket is no longer the crisis it was.
And, of course, my situation isn’t at all unique. I’m remembering the joy of the more unrestricted existence we once enjoyed. I missed it more than I let on.
I’m not usually one to sulk about things I don’t have. Growing up broke in the suburbs teaches you that. It can be really easy to fall into the trap of feeling grouchy about how others are doing better or feeling better or living better than you are. It can provide motivation to strive for better, but it can also cause you unneeded angst.
Last year, for the first time in my life, the U.S. ground to a halt. Nobody had anything going on. Honestly I assumed the collective commiseration would bond everyone together (HA, it did, kinda. Into a few camps…), because everyone was in the same “Damn, I hope I can find toilet paper at this fifth store that I shouldn’t even be at” boat..
The nature of what we had changed fundamentally. People re-evaluated careers, friendships, relationships, living situations. Companies re-evaluated modes of business and metrics of productivity. A lot of good, hard, old-fashioned reflection going on in the past year.
In some ways, I had begun this reflection process a few years earlier. My mom said it was “perfectly normal for men my age” to have the feelings I was having. But I really had to understand and unpack why I was feeling this way. Aimless, uninspired, unfulfilled.
Therapy helped (I’ll say this a lot in my life). Music helped. Writing helped. The more I work on all three of these things, the more I am capable of articulating my truth and thus understanding it.
Many people fear what they don’t understand.
I chase down what I don’t understand. I lean into it. I embrace the discomfort of ignorance, letting it envelop me like a tortilla shell. It’s really thrilling stuff.
I loved going to a prestigious university and knowing I could easily be the dumbest guy in the room at any moment. It was awesome discussing concepts that I previously knew nothing about with a person who sometimes literally wrote the book on the subject.
It’s what inspired me about working in the executive education space, and what made me yearn for more than just an administrative role in that action.
I, too, had something to profess.
On a quest to learn everything I can, no that’s not an exception
Speaking of professions, and professing my passions, I FINALLY GOT A JOB!
The store is near my house, but they have locations all over the state and across the country.
Zen Leaf is operated by Verano Holdings. Verano is a major multi-state player, with nearly eighty open stores across eleven markets and continuing to grow (pun intended).
Their products are exciting and distinct from other cultivators in Illinois. They seem to be well positioned as a premium brand in a premium market. (can you tell I’m a bit excited?)
Ironically, I achieved a minor subsidiary goal of having a job with “consultant” in the title.
After a year of vaguely wanting something, and after months of earnestly striving towards something, I am now getting ready for my first day getting paid to talk about cannabis.
Looking back for me is usually purely a measure of progress. I don’t get bogged down in what I call the “woulda coulda shouldas”, but gratitude is critical.
I am grateful I will be able to “bring my whole self” to work for the first time ever.
I am grateful for the work I began on myself in advance of the pandemic. The pandemic in almost all respects validated that I made some pretty good life choices (poor diet and alcohol dependency notwithstanding)
I am grateful for the love and support of my amazing and beautiful wife.
This past year became a bigger leap than either of us could have imagined, but it appears (as of now) we will not need to continue to brace for the impact of a hard fall (partly literally given September was when pandemic benefits are to expire, another thing I am SUPER GRATEFUL FOR).
More than that, she never once wavered from the conviction that I was making the right choice to sit and wait for the right opportunity to come along. I wavered constantly. Leaning on someone else is hard, especially if you love them.
Kelly had experienced a period of unemployment before finding her love in hospice, and now I intimately understand the wave of emotion: the panic, the anxiety, the hopelessness, the depression..
I am grateful this pandemic forced me to confront my relationship with ‘productivity’. I no longer attach my well-being to my ability to earn income. I stopped feeling like I was taking advantage of my wife or the federal unemployment benefits and started accepting that this is what support looks like. (And yo, what up Universal Basic Income? Millennials and younger GET ON THAT Gen X doesn’t have a very good retirement plan…)
Twenty five years ago I discovered cannabis. I kept it pretty discreet for the vast majority of my life. Hiding it was the thing to do, and it still is for the vast majority of people I know. I FEEL YOU ALL. I do. It caused a fair bit more anxiety than it cured.
But I realized that this anxiety was preventing me from having really excellent conversations with really amazing people in an industry I was genuinely interested in. It was also largely unnecessary.
As it happens, my anxiety is the least interesting attribute of my personality. It’s there, and it plays to win, but it isn’t the show horse.
I am letting curiosity, kindness, and work ethic drive for the time being.
A few months back my therapist wondered out loud why I was hesitant to just “put both feet” into cannabis.
I had no good answers other than perpetuating this arbitrary anxiety. Which led me to speak with my doctor that week about the qualified conditions I met to apply for a medical cannabis card. Shortly after I posted on this very platform my story about cannabis. Each new door I opened led to another door.
Each step forward into the dense foggy forest of cannabis networking led me one step nearer to a visible light on the horizon. The clearing. I'll be there in the morning.
I still don't know what lies over the next horizon. That's sort of how horizons work, always elusively in the distance. All we can ever do is follow our instincts and keep looking for the evident path.
Lastly, I am SO GRATEFUL that you've joined me on this journey. I keep feeling like it's only just begun, and those are the moments I cherish most.
Thanks so much, dear reader!
All the best, Jonathan “Doc Wattson” The Native Stranger
p.s. Obviously I am going to endeavor to keep stoking my creative projects, but given the new nature of my schedule I may have some slightly different delivery times. So far I have the next few Sundays off but I do not expect that consideration to last indefinitely. I appreciate your patience in advance if a reflection is later in that day or a day late (Or if I stop doing it regularly... stay tuned)