Starting Over, Part Two

Two riders in consecutive days told me dramatic stories of starting over again. I felt that both stories deserved a full post, so I’m calling them Starting Over, Parts One and Two.

Here’s Part Two:

Harold lives in a condo right at the Oceanfront. And he works for the company that owns it, so he doesn’t have to drive to work. He did the math and figured out that it wasn’t worthwhile to own a car. When he needs to drive somewhere–like this day–he calls an Uber.

I wish I could remember whom, but our conversation got interesting when he quoted someone literary. It was Flannery O’Connor or Virginia Woolf or someone like that.

I said, “I like that quote. I’m an English teacher.”

“Really? I used to teach English too.”

“No kidding. Where?”

“I was a comparative lit professor at a major university.”

Turns out, Harold was for a short time one of only a handful of male teachers in the world who taught feminist literary studies. He talked a bit about how he ended up in that unusual position.

“So, how did you end up working for a resort here in Virginia Beach?” I asked.

It was a bewildering and fascinating answer that required much more than the few minutes we had together in the car. I gave him my email address and asked him to get in touch. I promised I’d take him to lunch if he would be willing to tell me the whole story.

Harold came up with an idea for an e-learning program for teaching ethics to business leaders. It was the era of the Enron scandal and he thought it was crazy that business schools didn’t require graduates to pass an ethics course. He proposed his idea to the University and they went for it.

It was a big success that led him to other entrepreneurial endeavors. He and his wife, in just a few years, made enough money to be, in his words, “financially independent.” Things were going well. He was working with major companies around the globe, developing curriculum, and launching new businesses.

Then it all came crashing down.

His body reacted unpredictably to some prescribed medication and it affected his ability to sleep. The insomnia lasted for months. At one point, he didn’t sleep for thirteen days straight.

And it goofed up his brain. His brilliantly successful brain. He just couldn’t function. Brains need sleep.

It all went away. His marriage. His money. His businesses and connections.

Three years ago, he finally got relief. Started sleeping again. And his brain has slowly recovered. Over time, he’s been able to regain its full function.

But now he’s starting from scratch.

I’m dying to know more detail. And I’d love to know where he hopes to go next. I hope he emails me.


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