There is no such thing as a workplace where the cast of characters never changes. Some have more rapid revolving doors than others, but change in personnel is inevitable. And no matter how you feel about the departure of a co-worker, or the reasons for it, you are left holding an undeniable truth—no one is indispensible.
In my seven years at TPAN, there have been many departures and arrivals, some more fortunate than others. I have seen the agency grow from a staff of 15 to a staff of over 40 and have witnessed four sets of administrations. But in the last few months, there have been too many announcements of the departure of people who, if not indispensible, have at least left a positive permanent footprint on TPAN’s landscape, people who I do or will miss.
But there is one constant among those folks who are no longer here. They all chose to leave when they did because they recognized that their time here was over, that they had other things to do, other goals and wishes, other parts of themselves they wanted to pay attention to. And so I think of them as “fledglings,” spreading their wings and hopping off the edge of the TPAN nest to catch an updraft and soar.
In a way, I envy them. Having taken that leap several times in my own life, I know the exhilarating combination of fear, hope, and excitement that accompanies the departure into the unknown. And I confess that, as one who’s left behind, I can’t work up any enthusiasm about even meeting, let alone getting to know, their replacements. Give me a little time to mourn before I have to take in a new face, name, and energy.
So here’s to my fledglings of 2011—Rhett, with his suave charm, tireless professionalism, and just plain class; Louis with his gap-tooth grin, his soft bass voice, and his unswerving dedication to the African American community; Billy, Truth-teller, poet, striver, a man of huge heart and courageous pen; and Jennie, fierce fighter, brainy beauty, football fan, and ultimate survivor. TPAN is poorer for losing them and the places where they land are richer. My life will have a few holes that won’t be easily filled unless I still have the benefit of our connection; always the intent, sadly too often lost in the relentless march of days.
But from time to time, word will reach me of where their flights have taken them and I’ll smile and wish them gentle breezes and smooth glides.
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