I am three weeks into the new job. After twelve and a half years in a super position with a great corporation, working with what I told everyone was "the greatest job description in the world," I picked up stakes and left the company and started a brand new law firm. From an employer of 40,000 to a law firm of two partners, one full-time employee, one part-time employee, and my sixteen-year-old daughter and her friend cleaning the office. From a guaranteed check twice a month, with bonuses at the end of the year, to earning what I can from clients I don't have yet. From doing the work somebody gives me to finding my own.
I am starting over.
This is my fourth real job. I of course had some odd jobs before the "real" ones started. My first paying job (other than working for my grandparents or babysitting here and there) was working one summer in high school for a market research company. I spent a couple of weeks standing in a mall, stopping poor unsuspecting shoppers and trying to get them to answer pages of survey questions. In college, I spent my summers teaching at debate workshops for high schoolers.
My first real job was as the assistant debate coach at Baylor while I was in law school. My second job was as a lawyer at a firm in Nashville, and then I went to the aforementioned company as an in-house lawyer for my third job.
Now, I am starting over.
Starting over is not always good. I have had two friends lose parents over the last month. They are starting over in a very real way. I yesterday heard of yet another couple who are having trouble in their marriage. They may or may not be starting over.
For me, however, at least in this occupational endeavor, starting over is a good thing. That does not mean my last job was bad; to the contrary, it was in many ways a dream job. But now, I am following my heart, pursuing my true calling and being my own boss. My partner and I have done everything, from picking the office space and the firm name to designing the web site and buying the furniture. My wife has been in charge of decorating the office while I have been out seeking clients. My partner comes from an existing law practice and brought her business with her; as I am coming from an in-house position, I have no business (but a few promises) to bring with me; hence, I am out wooing the clients.
There is an interesting psychology to starting over at age 50. What do I want to be when I grow up? What do I truly love to do? Where do my passion, my talent, and a real need in the world meet? Will anybody pay me for it?
Beyond the economic, of course, is the spiritual. Starting over is the essence of what we all want, for we all fail to live up to the standard. Pinocchio wants another chance. We all miss the mark. To get a chance to start over, free and clear of the past, is the great gift. It is the gospel.