Six months ago, I walked to work one morning. It’s a thirty-five minute walk from my house to the CBC. I walked and I thought. The book I am writing was tugging on my sleeve. The view from my garden was playing on my mind. A hundred tasks I’d put aside were nagging my to-do list. The work-out I hadn’t done that morning was waiting impatiently for me to notice it.
I walked and I thought. I had a plan. Plan 2017. By the fall of 2017, according to my plan, my book would be done and ready to launch. I’d be embarking on a book tour, and, the plan was, I’d leave CBC and slide back into my interrupted life as a writer. The work toward that goal was obvious: get finances in order. Figure out an independent health benefits package. Line up some freelance clients. Develop more writing workshop teaching opportunities. Get an agent. Get a publisher. Finish the book. Plan 2017 was a good plan.
Thing was, I realized as I walked, the fall of 2017 was more than two years away. And my footsteps were heavy with dread. I had begun falling out of love with CBC as a workplace a year before. Every show felt like a huge uphill push. Increasing workload, decreasing resources, massive workplace uncertainty. a lack of leadership. My colleagues were still the dedicated, creative, hard-working, amazing, inspiring people they’d always been, but the place itself, the work, was starting to crush me.
By the time I rounded the corner that brought the building’s logos into view I knew: work was no longer working for me. It wasn’t working for my body. It wasn’t working for my mind. It wasn’t working for my spirit. And it definitely wasn’t working for my writing. When I started at CBC, I made a deal with myself that if it started to interfere too much with my writing, I’d choose writing. Even though hosting Mainstreet is a great job. Even though writing doesn’t pay.
And so I made the decision, back in June. I would leave before year’s end. And now here we are. Most of Plan 2017’s items are undone. It doesn’t matter. To be the host of Mainstreet, you’ve gotta be all in. To write books, you’ve gotta be all in. You can’t do both. Well, maybe you can. I couldn’t. Well, I could, for two books’ worth. Anyhow.
I have no regrets. I am not afraid, I am not sad. I wish the best for my colleagues and my show. I have loved talking to you on the radio every day for the last seven years. And I love the idea of not doing it anymore.
Thank you for listening. You gave me a gift the size and shape of which I will wrestle with for some time yet. I hope I gave you something too. Thanks for listening to Mainstreet today. And thanks for letting me go.
That’s how much time I have left as the host of Mainstreet on CBC Radio One.
My encounters at the Farmers’ Market are now solidly with faces that are twisted in a rictus of “I am so SAD you are leaving,” to which I have struggled to find a correct response. I have settled on “thank you for saying so,” which seems to not satisfy any of us involved in the conversation. I am not sad. But I get that you are. And I thank you for feeling so strongly about me and my work. But I will not be changing my mind about this, based on your sadness. So: thank you for saying so. It means a lot to me that my presence on your radio has meant something to you. But I trust the team that makes Mainstreet, and I know you’ll learn to love again. It might take a while, but you’ll get there. The show will still be the show, and the new host, whoever it may be, will bring strengths and talents that will carry you through.
As for me, I keep searching myself for any fear of the future, and it’s just not there. I feel relief. I feel happiness and excitement. I feel deep anticipation about the moment I take my hands off the wheel. I do not feel sad, I do not feel scared.
I am keeping a mental list of Things I Will Miss and Things I Will Not Miss. Guess which one is longer?
I am struggling, a little, with what I will say as the minutes wind down on Thursday, December 17. I will need every minute of the next week and a day to figure it out, I think. Thirteen years at CBC. Eight or nine at this show I have loved. Much, much longer than I imagined I could stay anywhere.
I am so used to asking questions on the air, and so not used to saying what I think and feel (all those who think I talk about myself incessantly, commence rolling your eyes here. Then, do the math on a three-hour show that features at least eight different stories a day, show your work, and tell me what proportion of the day I spend talking about myself on the radio. And then let’s never speak again, shall we?) (I probably will not say that on the radio on Thursday, December 17, but you never know, so you should definitely tune in.).
In any event. I’m open to suggestion. What do YOU think I should say in my final moments behind the mic?