Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Alternate Realities

One of my favorite TV shows of all time is Sliders. If you haven't seen it, it's basically about four people who travel through the vortex--a wormhole to alternate versions of Earth. One time they came to an America that was still ruled by Great Britain; another time it was a lot like the old west, where 80's-style corporate takeovers came complete with gunslingers battling it out.

Of course, this kind of show also lends itself to social commentary, and there was plenty of that, with shows like the one where men's and women's roles were reversed, and the Professor (who was very much a chauvinist by anyone's standard) ended up leading the way in that world's version of the Equal Rights movement. Another time, it was the Gringos in California who were illegal immigrants and had a hard time finding work.

Still, for the most part it was more interesting than preachy on these topics, and provided the kind of what-if scenarios that many Sci-Fi fans enjoy. *(see note below)

Now I have to admit here that I love the alternate reality stuff. It's one of my favorites--whether you're talking about the alternate universe in Star Trek (complete with bearded Spock), Michael Crichton's Timeline, or even the speculations of real historians about how pivotal certain events were in history. (And if you're really crazy about this stuff, check out Other, where you can read about and submit your own alternate timelines.)

But as much as I'm a fan of speculations like this for entertainment purposes, in one's personal life I think this kind of speculation can be unhealthy. To spend time wishing or dwelling on "what might have been" can lead to a paralysis, and to ignoring what is. It is also a short trip from that to "the good old days" syndrome, which has plagued man throughout history--whether you look at the Israelites leaving Egypt, or the recipients of the letter to the Hebrews mulling over returning back to being under the law.

And both of these things will take the place of what is really important, looking to Christ, and looking toward the future (since now we see darkly, but one day face-to-face). So for the most part, I try to avoid this kind of thing.

But sometimes it is inevitable, especially with the Blogosphere. Seeing people you knew way back when, and meeting new people in circumstances not unlike your own at a point in your own past naturally lead to some of this type of thinking.

For instance, Dan's travails as a newly minted lawyer represent an alternate reality for me, as my wife and I were looking ahead to that very thing when we first got married 12 years ago this month. I ended up staying with my temp job at Charles Schwab, and making a career in financial services.

Then there's this guy (or maybe gal--for privacy reasons they have masked their identity), who linked to a WSJ article I was reading today. The writer is living the business major/MBA's dream--six-figures at a successful firm, making deals and ringing the cash register. Every Junior High kid who read the Wall Street Journal in their spare time would want to be him/her. But reading just the intro tells me that the success of that life comes with strings attached, something that this person recognizes despite the probability that they don't share my personal beliefs. (Though many of my regular readers might not enjoy the detailed financial content or the intermittently sordid corporate context of what's described, those who have a regular diet of sharply written commentary pieces ala Frank Turk or Ann Coulter, for instance, may enjoy a brief sample.)

Which brings me to my ultimate point (had you been wondering?): I'm creating my own alternate reality.

I've given my two week notice at my current firm. What's more, I'm not just leaving the firm, but leaving the industry (and my nearly 13 year career in it) to pursue something completely different.

More details will be forthcoming. In the meantime, Mrs. G & I would appreciate your prayers during this transition.

(*Note: I'm referring mainly to the first two seasons here, which I recently watched on the combined DVD set. I watched Season Three, which was a departure from the original premise, and found out just today that there were Seasons 4 & 5, which I've not seen but which as described seem more like purely action than actual Sci-Fi. Then again, given that Sci-Fi purists don't generally use the word Sci-Fi, take this with a grain of salt.)


Nan said...

So, are we allowed to take stabs at what you are going to do next?
We will try to remember and keep you all in our prayers!

Kim said...


Buggy made a similar move ten years ago. He left IBM and started in another industry. It was a good move for us. I'm trusting that this will be for you and Mrs. G. and all the other little G's too.

Nathan said...

Ah, Sliders. Thou wert very good, though SG1 and BSG kickests thee in the katushka, and right verily.

Hm...I can't imagine what Gummby will do next. I was shocked to learn Arkansas had financial services, so it's anyone's guess what other jobs are lying around.

Gummby said...

Nate: I guess we're even. I'm shocked they have Christians in California.

Nathan said...

Checkmate. The match is yours, and I yield.

Ray said...

Bravo to your courage! I have been in the same industry for 28 years, and can't, for the life of me, figure out what else I would be good at.

I may be in a similar environment as Bugs was (IBM), I am in telecom, but they are somewhat related.

I would love to go into the pastoral role full-time, but we cannot afford that at this point in time... And besides, I believe it is good to stay plugged in to the world around me a bit.

Charles Sebold said...

Wow. Just... wow.

Can't wait to hear details. You will be in our prayers. (Brave Sir Robin here nearly soils his armor when he considers quitting his job.)

BugBlaster said...

Residential tree remover? They make good coin, and they get to prance out on branches with miniature chain saws and ropes. It's very adventurous.

Gummby said...

Nan: you're welcome to guess, but I will be disclosing at some point coming up.

Although if Buggy's comment is any indication, my actual job will be a real let-down compared to some of the guesses.

Bonus: verification word "awaybur."

Nan said...

I am granting myself three guesses:
1) Some sort of ministry
2) Teaching
3) Pest control (you know... in honor of buggy.)


Gummby said...

Nan said:
I am granting myself three guesses:
1) Some sort of ministry
2) Teaching
3) Pest control (you know... in honor of buggy.)

No, but these are good guesses.

How good?

Well, in 2000, when I first thought seriously about leaving the industry, I was looking at (and even applied for) a teaching job--at John Brown.

Last year, I considered (briefly) applying for a job at one of the churches in the area here. We ultimately decided that it wasn't the right time or the right fit for us.

I'm still interested in both of these things, but they are not what I'm looking at right now.

As for the third, as much as I like Buggy (and that's a lot, BTW), I wouldn't take a job in honor of him. Sorry Dude! There's limits even to my loyalty.

Anonymous said...

We still think you are the only junior higher that ever read the Wall Street Journal. We are proud of your decisions!! M & D

Dan B. said...

I too am interested in seeing the path you are choosing--I visited a good friend of mine on the way back from seeing my folks in KY who had been in landscaping for 10 years in Florida (making GOOD money) but left it and came to law school, graduated when I did. He had two kids at the time (now three), but feels that's what he was supposed to do.

I'll be praying for your family during the time of transition, and thanks for the link (maybe I'll double my readership...from one to two readers! ha!)