In Praise of Losing Your Job

Today I was walking by a tree on 97th Street, between Columbus and Central Park West—is it a dogwood? A short tree, with an afro of white flowers? There was no one around but me, and suddenly the wind came up and hundreds of brand-new little flower petals blew into the air and drifted, like snowflakes, to the ground. It was just a quiet, natural occurrence—so very beautiful—not meant for anyone, and I was lucky enough to have been there. Afterwards, I thought to myself, about my ex-boss, “Thank you for firing me, you gigantic jerk.” Had I still have been working at that magazine, I would have missed the little flower blizzard.

And that got me thinking about my job (which I can’t really talk about since I signed an agreement, in order to get a pretty pitiful severance, not to give them bad publicity), and how I never really liked it. I kept saying this to the people closest to me and to myself, back in the day, and I think we all felt that that was just me, Deitch, being my usual pain-in-the-ass, not-liking-my-job self: It was a good job, after all.

So I got fired, and, after the initial shock, I felt really happy. I mean, I felt liberated. I was even liberated from my New Yorker job, which I never would have quit had I known I was going to lose this job. So I guess this is about intuition, and how you can really trust it.

Because the truth is, writing has always made me happy, and I haven’t been able to do it, holding down these other jobs. The years that I was freelance writer were really hard financially, but they were the best. What made me think I couldn’t do that again? What made me doubt my intuition? (Could it have been dwindling self-confidence and paralyzing fear?) Thank goodness for being fired!

It turns out you don’t die when you lose your job; people don’t turn their backs on you, or tell you you deserve it. You cry a little bit, you start getting familiar with uncertainty, and you come up with something else. If you’re lucky, and you try really hard, you love what you come up with, and it gives you time to smell the dogwoods.