Thursday, April 29, 2010

Occupational Hazard

Bill Moyers, a journalist who has been knocking down the doors of fabrication for years, had his last show on Friday night. To say I cried my eyes out would have been an understatement. What that really means is, I cried my heart out.

Full disclosure, I've been privy to work with Bill for the past two years, and in that time I've learned a hell of a lot. The word "remarkable" comes to mind, but it doesn't even come close to the word that describes him.

He's a legend. And a legend died today.

As I screened his last farewell page that he was recording in the studio, I took the time to take it in. I wondered about his feelings in the days up until this point. The people he had met, the interviews he has done, and the people he's touched. I thought too about the toll it had on him, the thoughts he might have had for an essay he started, but then abandoned when he realized that there would be no personal forum for him, and how much it must take out of him to dedicate much of your life to informing others.

And because he was in the business for so long, I wondered about how others viewed his departure. Would they see him as staple in the journalistic community? Or did they just assume that he was supposed to take his stripes with pride and just leave the arena?

It’s bad enough that journalism is flailing in the arms of political shock jocks looking to use their mouthpieces to ravage the remains of journalism. But thinking about all those hours our team spent researching, disseminating information, fact-checking, and truth-telling, it really feels like it's what my mom keeps saying it is, "the end of an era."

I can imagine how he feels.

Though I've only stepped foot in the White House for a holiday tour with my mom several years ago, Bill was Lyndon Johnson's Press Secretary in 1965, and has lived through all the drama that comes with being a man being the voice of reason. So it must seem surreal to go from fighting off the sharks in the deep side of the pool, to someone wading in the shallow end. Call it an occupational hazard if you will, but once you start working and doing something that you truly love, it's hard to stop and just succumb to the pressure of the forces that be.

For only a moment, I sat there and understood what it felt like. As I stared at him, I realized that he must feel like he's in limbo, one foot in the journalism world and one foot out. Much like myself on a more basic level, because like him, I struggle with the same thing.

I change my mind about everything everyday, I wonder what the hell I'm doing with myself and my life and where I'm headed. I think about what I have to do to be like Bill. The steps he took to get where he is today and the foundation he built for himself in the process. And then I think of failing, flailing my arms in the air like a maniac, giving up, and the idea that I might not be good enough for anything, Oh, and if by the grace of God, if one day I am actually considered "a legend", I will totally suck at it.

It would be an understatement to say Bill was the best. He really was. Not to mention, he was the sweetest person EVER. I fondly believe this isn't the end for him and it's just the beginning for me. So we are both kind of in this limbo. But if I learned nothing else working there, I've learned that failure is not an option.

We just have to suck it up, overcome our occupational hazards, and keep going.

No comments: