When Theodore Roosevelt wrote a letter to an individual which, in tone, clearly and amusingly betrayed his own awareness that said letter would likely enter the public record one day, his friends and family jokingly referred to it as a "posterity letter." Here is my posterity letter to my mother and sister.
Greetings, Kathy and Mom. I would have discussed this with you in person a week ago, but I was still working on the many details, and I hate to waste people's time with hypothetical chit-chat. Also, there are far too many specifics to address than I possibly can in an already too-long email, so I send this to you knowing full well that I haven't addressed all your likely questions and concerns.
I will be heading off to Croatia on November 1, and once again have successfully made arrangements to continue to work for my organization for a three-month period while I am over there, with the condition being that the organization and I will re-evaluate the situation at the end of that time in order to determine 1) whether to continue with that arrangement (unlikely), 2) whether I need to return to Atlanta in order to stay continuously employed, or 3) whether I apply for a leave of absence. It is worth noting that the cost of living in Croatia will be lower than that in Atlanta; I have also saved up a good amount of money to cushion me.
The point is to make a concerted drive to transition into another career as a journalist. There is no guarantee of success; perhaps there is a greater likelihood of failure. But I don't think that the words carved in stone at the Theodore Roosevelt memorial reading, "It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed," express a mere platitude. Nor was Steve Jobs trying to craft a hollow bumper-sticker slogan when he said, "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life." The fact is, with 40 looming large I ever more acutely realize that this is the only life I'll ever have, and it would be tragic to waste it frozen into my cowardly inaction over my current employment situation by a struggling economy that shows no sign of improvement in the near future.
The other, more positive fact is that in Europe I feel invigorated, energized, and driven. The positive energy I feel over there is why I am taking this sort of a gamble, and why I think there is at least some chance of success. It's a risk--if success were guaranteed, then obviously it wouldn't be a risk--but one I must attempt.
I know you will worry, and let me assure you that you have company there. I've been waking up every night between 3 and 5 AM contemplating these enormous questions for several weeks. (Incidentally, magnesium supplements are good for treating the symptoms of stress, my doctor friends told me after I described my ordeal with worry-induced insomnia. Just a tip.) On the positive side, the fears and paranoia I entertain are also motivators to keep me moving forward. Obviously, I don't want to fail, so I will be working harder than I have my whole life to find success. This email is a contract to you pledging the application of such vigorous energy. This will not be a vacation.
I have already arranged what appears to be a nice apartment in Zagreb for three months which has an internet connection, so we can Skype and stay in touch, including over the holidays. I have been warned that in Zagreb winter is "cruel and sharp," which, as a veteran of Kiev in January, sounds intriguing.
We can discuss all this soon (I will be busy tonight cleaning out my extended stay room, so tomorrow night might be a good time to chat).
I am always glad to be of service in giving you things to talk about. Be good, don't worry, and take care!
Mom's reaction? Positive!