“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” The first to utter that motivational bon mot was most likely Charles Dederich, the founder of the sketchy drug-rehab program/church known as Synanon, sometime around 1965. Others sometimes credited with inventing it, or popularizing it, include radical provocateur Abbie Hoffman and novelist Thomas Wolfe. The idea, of course, is that if you want to make a change, reinvent yourself, break a habit, or start a new one, there’s no time like today.
I don’t believe I’ve ever confessed this here, although you might be able to pick it up between the lines, and if you know me personally, you might have seen it, but I am one risk-averse son-of-a-bitch. I do not handle change well; more than once I have been dragged into it against my will, if not kicking and screaming, then at least holding back against it as long as I could. This personality trait has cost me jobs and a friendship or two; how The Mrs. has stayed married to me for nearly 30 years in the face of it I do not know.
I have even been known to hang on to stuff that makes me miserable—better the devil you know, after all. My last corporate job was a mistake practically from day one. After I’d been there awhile, I took an online survey about depression, one of those that suggests if you have two or more of 10 symptoms for a month, you should see somebody. I had seven of them, and I’d had them for a couple of years. Yet I didn’t do anything about it until one fateful morning when the misery of dragging ass in there for one more day finally broke free from the gravitational pull of the status quo.
To make a long story short—which is what gasbags say when it’s already too late—today is the first day of the rest of my life in a way that most days are not. Today I’ll make my official debut as the permanent afternoon guy on Magic 98 in Madison. Although I am a radio man, and a full-time gig at Magic is something for which many are called but only an elite few are chosen, actually accepting their offer was not an easy decision. I have spent the last decade, almost, as a freelance writer/weekend broadcaster/cat wrangler/layabout. The gravitational pull of the status quo remains strong in my life. Better the devil you know. But the Powers That Be wouldn’t let me off the hook. To quote another famous bon mot, they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.
And so we come to this day, 19 years since I last held down a regular weekday shift on the radio. It’s not as though I’m Phil Hartman’s Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer, plunked down in a modern world too confusing for a primitive brain to understand. I’ve been on Magic for nearly five years already and I know my way around.
But there’s a difference between being a guy who fools around on the weekends and the guy responsible for four drive-time hours every day. If you’re thinking, “Jeez, lighten up, Jim, it’s what you do, it’ll be easy,” think again. It’ll be a challenge, and to live up to that challenge, it’s gonna take all the craft and guile I’ve got.
But what the hell. Once you’ve decided to make today a true first day of the rest of your life, you might as well go all in.