February 28th, 2005

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
This is where our readers tell their stories . . .

You're Fired!

By Capt. Marty Authement

It's not often one gets a chance to live their dream. Yet here I am, looking ahead to an exciting future, counting myself among the lucky ones as I embark on such a journey.

While it might seem such a magnanimous step would be heralded with proverbial trumpets and fanfare, my doorway into bliss was a bit harder to recognize. My catalyst, in fact, was rather ugly and scary. It was this: After a decade in what I considered a stable job, I was fired.

I had been at the newspaper for 10 years, two weeks and a few days. I won't dwell on the job, but for those not familiar with working in a newsroom, it's a high-stress environment, a virtual pressure cooker. Daily deadlines are intense and the pace can be brutal. We called it "building the beast," and it started over every day.

On an October afternoon, a Thursday to be exact, my boss asked me to meet with him and the HR director. The meeting was short and very direct: "We have decided to terminate your employment."

I was stunned, no doubt looking at them like a deer in headlights. "Why?" of course was my question. "Well, I don't feel comfortable discussing that right now" was the response. Interesting answer, I thought, since I was about to walk out the building for the last time, so this was his only chance to discuss it. I asked again, and was given the last response I was to receive: "Just think about it. You'll figure it out."

I'm still working on that one.

I unceremoniously emptied my desk, stopped by my wife's office to inform her, then went home still in a state of shock, numb for the remainder of the day. The night was long as I labored to shut out the day's events and go to sleep.

I anticipated a strange morning, as the impulse of repetition would take over and I'd awake ready to prepare myself for the morning commute to the office. My first lucid thought of the morning, however, was that I didn't have to go to the office; not that I couldn't go, but I didn't have to go.

I smiled.

I had known for some time I was unhappy at my job, but I didn't realize until then that I had been miserable. The weight of the stress that fell from my body that morning was like lead, and the change was vast and complete. The change was as much physical as mental. Within one week, I stopped taking blood-pressure pills, sleeping pills and "nerve" pills - just didn't need them anymore.

Of course, this was also the tricky stage: What to do now? I knew another newspaper job, or any job involving a cubicle was out of the question. For sake of my sanity, and health, it had to be something else.

The answer was simple enough. I had been a part-time fishing guide for four years, taking out clients on weekends, holidays and vacation days. Fishing pictures and decorations surrounded my computer and filled my work area, and many a day I sat in my cubicle and dreamed of being out on the water, envious of those who made guiding a career.

Thinking back on those days, I am amazed, and ashamed of myself. I knew what I wanted to do; I had the ability, but I didn't have the courage. And I believe that's how dreams are lost for many people. We stand at the threshold of our dreams, think about them, consider the pros and cons, and deliberate over the details, yet we don't take that first step. We are strangled by the fear of the unknown, and our dreams, though not dead, are stifled, suppressed and relegated to a virtual shelf where we visit them on occasion, maybe even mourn for them.

I understand those fears all too well and, unfortunately, can offer little advice on how to get over them. My first step came in the form of a firm and forceful push, thrust into the unknown where my dream was no longer the fearful, but the most logical course.

Once in that position, direction came rather easy as I realized it was up to me to shape my career, and life, as I wished. For better or worse, I was in control. That's when I took the really big step.

Along with a lifetime of fishing in south Louisiana, I have also fished for many years in southwest Montana, thanks to the standing invitation of a dear friend who lives near Bozeman. Each year, I looked forward to my all-too-brief respite from the blazing south Louisiana summer as I traveled north, dipping my feet into the cold, clear waters of such legendary rivers as the Gallatin, Madison and Yellowstone. More than once my conversation would turn to, "I have to figure out how to be up here in the summer, and down South for the winter."

What was casual conversation became prophetic. The opportunity lay before me, and I took it. Now, thanks to another dear friend and outfitter, I will travel north in the spring and park my camper in Ennis, Montana, to guide on the area rivers throughout the summer, then return to my home waters for fall and winter.

Looking back, it all seems so simple now. I knew exactly what I wanted to do, even what I needed to make it happen. But like so many others struggling with a dream, I was holding on to my "real job," even though I was miserable, because it was safe. I might have wanted to be fishing instead of in my cubicle, but I got a paycheck at the end of the week, and that security kept me there.

Ironically, that security also blurred my vision. I couldn't see past the fear and into the unknown because I was still focused on the known, the safe. It wasn't until that door closed behind me that I could truly see my future.

That's not to say the transition is easy; far from it. It takes time to become established as a guide, and there are difficult times in the interim. I liken it to a patient with a terrible disease, and the doctor says, "We can cure you, but it will get worse before it gets better." This is where love and support beyond oneself becomes vital.

When I told my wife I was fired she was, of course, also stunned. But she immediately gave me a hug and a kiss and said, "It will be fine. We'll work it out." Then when I told her I wanted to pursue guiding instead of getting another "real job," she gave me her complete support without hesitation. She knew it meant a very lean period; some bills would be late and many hurdles would have to be crossed. But she stood, and continues to stand firmly beside me, doing whatever it takes to make the dream come true.

She does have the ulterior motive of wanting me to be successful enough that she can quit her 9-to-5 and spend summers in Montana with me. But that's not enough to take the leap of faith she is making. She is standing with me out of love, commitment and confidence.

So I can offer one very valuable piece of advice for anyone struggling with what they're going to be when they grow up. If you're going to chase your dream, make sure you're married to the right person. It makes all the difference. ~ Marty

Capt. Marty

About Marty:

Capt. Marty D. Authement owns and operates Marsh Madness guided fishing service in Houma, Louisiana (winter) and also guides out of Ennis, Montana (summer). He can be reached at, captmarty@internet8.net or visit his Website at www.marshmadness.net, or cell phone at: (985) 688-4495.

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