So I have been asked - "What were your goals? What did you learn? What did you find?"
The only agenda I had here was to experience - no set goal other than that - and to be open to whatever opportunities to Live Life that may present themselves along the way. Given that, this has been a resounding success.
I will not attempt to present an enumerated classification of what I have learned. Lessons learned, knowledge gained, and insights acquired do not always manifest themselves as conscious factoids that can be disgorged in recitation on demand. They more often settle softly into one's patterns of thought and feeling that affect actions, reactions and directions as you go about the general mechanics and mysteries of life.
Did I find myself? Well, I never thought of my "self" as something being lost that had to be found. Having had a firm and comfortable sense of self is one factor that made this little adventure possible in the first place.
Did I find America? YES! Not that America was MIA to me either - but I gained a much deeper feeling of what the country is, what it takes to keep it going, what essential part is played by every big city and sleepy little town and farm field and boat and train and truck and mountain and river and desert and road - and how enormous ...
Just under six months, over 17,000 miles, 31 states and provinces - and I feel as if I've just scratched the surface.
So - I'm now faced with the necessity of re-inventing myself, no small part of which is developing an income stream. Let's face it, the job market sucks - the federal unemployment figures are pure fantasy. The number of skilled, intelligent hi-tech workers that are out of a job and looking for work is enormous. I've talked to some people who say they get between 500 and 2000 applications for every opening they post. So far, I've considered the following options:
Float my resume and get a regular job.
This would be the easy solution, if there were jobs to be had. But do I really want to go to work for another corporation, and if I did, would I find myself working for another organization where the management, whose primary work product is the attendance of meetings, play power games to weasel as much enrichment as possible for themselves and position themselves to still have a place at the corporate teat even though they brought essentially no value to the effort of the organization? (Gee, do I sound a little cynical?)
I had an interview with an executive recruiter that lasted about 5 minutes. The lady who interviewed me,whose name and company affiliation shall remain anonymous, spent no time at all trying to find out what sort of unexploited talents I might have, made no attempt to discover what sort of energy and creativity were to be tapped, but did criticize me about my shaggy hair (I had just had it cut two days before) and my beard (which is now gone) and told me to my face that at the age of 50 I was too old. She left me with the impression that it was all about style and appearance, and being a member of this little club of powerful, confident people whose primary resource is that they are buddies with other members of this club and had no qualms about running rough-trod over everyone around them to grab what they can, and no, we're not interested in you peon outsiders, thank-you-very-much, except maybe to use you as cannon fodder in our Machiavellian machinations and then walk over your shattered carcasses so we won't be inconvenienced in any manner.
Start my own business.
I'm pursuing this as we speak. I'm brushing up on my web development skills (this site is quite simple for ease of maintenance, and I can do much flashier stuff). I'm also studying up on 802.11 wireless networking, because I'm convinced this is going to be huge - actually, it is already exploding. Business has its own whole set of headaches - I feel like I'm wading through jello just trying to get the structure in place - but I think It's worth pursuing.
Become a writer.
I intend to start a serious writing project. I'll have two weeks of house-sitting up in Flagstaff where I'll have lots of time to get something started. This is a gamble, at least time-wise. Some people struggle their entire life just to get published, but then some people bang out a first novel and end up with a 7-figure payout and a movie deal. I have no illusions that things will be that easy for me.
Stand on the freeway ramp holding a sign saying 'will write software for food'.
When unemployment benefits run out about three months from now, it might come to that, if I don't have anything else going. The paltry sum that unemployment provides barely covers my rent, health insurance payments, telephone bill and storage costs (most of my passions are in a Uhaul self storage unit, since I have no place else to put them).
Go to Afghanistan, find bin Laden, and cash in on the 25 million dollar bounty.
I'm too old for that stuff anymore. Besides, I don't speak Pashtu very well, and my brother, who DOES speak some Pashtu, isn't interested in traveling right now.
Build a worldwide criminal empire.
Let's see ... Extortion? Gambling? Smuggling? Corporate CEO? I probably wouldn't get far in this since governments and Big Business hate competition.
Take a low-pay, low-tech job.
Actually, I could really enjoy working at Home Depot. But I don't know if I'm even qualified for that. Besides, it would be a subsistence existence - I doubt I could make enough to buy a house or replace my trusty but tired 1991 Isuzu Trooper.
Win the lottery.
I place my odds at pulling this one off to be only slightly better than getting hired by another corporation into a position similar to the one I had at Motorola, with the same pay.
Marry someone rich.
Given my track record with matrimony, this would be a temporary, short-term solution. Ultimately, it would be unsatisfying anyway - I really need to make it on my own in order to feel good about myself.
Sell a kidney.
I'm not sure, but I think I could get about $75,000 for one on the black market. Hell - if I sold two, I'd have enough money to buy a house!
So - anyone have any suggestions? Anyone want to have me write something for you? Anyone out there with money (women only, please) want to take care of me? Anyone know where bin Laden is? Let me know.
If nothing else, this all has been great fun. Thanks to Sherwood Ross for giving me my 15 minutes of fame, and thanks to all of you for the over 1000 emails you've sent telling me your own stories (some a lot like mine, and not a few with much grimmer consequences of unemployment). Many, Many thanks to the old friends and family that put me up along the way, and also to the new friends I met along the way who added your own personal dimension to the experience.
I have no idea what will become of the site after this. I may occasionally add blog-type stuff on any future interesting experiences I have. If I do start a serious writing project, I may publish it, chapter by chapter, on this site
We'll just have to wait and see ...