Shyster: Epilogue

Here ends the little writing project. There were eleven installments before this. Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5 ,Part 6Part 7 , Part 8Part 9, Part 10 and Part 11.

I started writing this series for very personal reasons. A lot has happened in my life over the past couple of months. Some terrible. Some – which I’ll be getting to in future posts – wonderful. I needed a project in which I could immerse myself. I needed to get down in writing what had been floating around my head for a few years. Other events in my life were going to eclipse it and I didn’t want it to slip away.

But a funny thing happened as I gazed at my navel: a lot more people have been reading it than I ever thought would. And, apparently, a lot more people are going through the same career angst I went through over the past decade or so.  In the last month I’ve received several dozen emails from people offering me encouraging words. Thanking me for writing it. Congratulating me on finding my way out of darkness and into light.

Most common, however, are people asking me if I have any advice for them. But even now I can’t quite say why it worked out the way it did. I can’t, as I am so often asked to do, give anyone any pointers. While it unfolded in somewhat orderly fashion in these posts I wrote over the past month or so, it felt like anything but orderly as it was happening. All I can say is that a writer writes, as the old expression goes, and I made a point to keep writing.

The key, though, is that at a couple of times in that process I stumbled over some good luck.  Better writers than I never get a chance to make a living writing and it’s not for lack of skill or lack of effort. It’s just for lack of the good fortune I happened upon. Maybe it’s silly, but I occasionally have something akin to survivor’s guilt over the fact that I’ve been able to make this my career while those better writers did not or, as of yet, have not.

I also sometimes wonder if I have cost myself something for going so hard after what I wanted.

As I wrote a couple of months ago, my marriage is ending. I’m not going to suggest that my writing is the cause of that. Anyone who knows what actually happened with my marriage knows that’s not the case.  But at the same time, every action has a reaction. People are creatures of habit and routine.  Who’s to say that my refusal to be content with my professional life as a lawyer didn’t upset the expectations of others? Who’s to say that in doing what I did with my life, I didn’t throw off my marriage’s equilibrium, even if that equilibrium was ultimately unhealthy and unsustainable? Maybe my soon-to-be-ex-wife had settled on a world view in which I would go downtown and fight with other lawyers all day for the next 30 years, and my short-circuiting that was something she simply couldn’t deal with anymore.  Maybe my search for meaning and fulfillment spurred a corresponding one on her part and it simply wasn’t compatible with us staying together.  I have no idea. You have to ask her, I suppose.

The point of all of this is that, even though I laid all of this out as the straightforward narrative of a boy who made his childhood dream come true, nothing in life is so simple.  There are no definitive paths. There are no definitive beginnings. There are no definitive ends until the day we die. I’m doing this now. I wasn’t doing it before. I may be doing something else later. As all of that happens, other things happen. People come into your life and then leave. Others come into your life after that and, hopefully, stay. Those dreams you had once no longer hold currency. New ones crop up. No clear narrative of anyone’s life can be written until they’re dead and gone.

But what I’ve written over these past couple of months captures a chunk of it. An important chunk of it and one that will always be with me. And no matter where else life takes me, I will be able to draw on these experiences. To look back and say:

You once dreamed something big and made it happen.  You once had big problems and overcame them.  You once took risks that seemed unreasonable, but survived them.  There is nothing you put your mind to that, with time, effort, perseverance and a little luck, you can’t accomplish. And even if that luck doesn’t come, you will be able to look yourself in the mirror with pride for having made the effort.

Thanks for hanging around for all of this. Now forward ho.

Craig Calcaterra

Craig is the author of the daily baseball (and other things) newsletter, Cup of Coffee. He writes about other things at He lives in New Albany, Ohio with his wife, two kids, and many cats.

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