The Nation's Pulse

The Joys of Quitting

Sarah Palin sure knows how to make an exit.

By 7.10.09

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Say what you want about Sarah Palin, the lady sure knows how to make an exit.

For future reference: Call a press conference just before the Fourth of July to rival the fireworks. Brag about your achievements, damn your enemies, drop wild crazy hints about your future, give three weeks notice. Then: Go fishing, grant lakeside interviews to stunned journalists in your waders.

Oh and, this is important -- don't forget to smile.

The Alaska governor is fully capable of flashing fake smiles but these are the real deal. Palin is beaming right now because she knows something that the politicians and the pundits will never, ever figure out.

Most of the Palin speculation is so beside the point as to be really side splittingly funny. Will she run for president? How will this affect her chances at getting the GOP nomination? How about the general election? And why? Why did she do it? I have the answer, though many of you won't believe me -- because you can't.

It's been said that the two most precious words in the English language are "not guilty." Close but not quite. The real winning declaration has got to be, "I quit." That's right, you say. Chuck it all. I don't want to put up with this anymore, and I don't have to.

In most of the world, human bondage is in the ancient past. Yet we feel bound to our jobs. Our sense of obligation or necessity or simple inertia keeps us there long after all the joy has been squeezed out of the work. Why?

We cling to our rationalizations and self-bargains about the future. We look around for other opportunities, often half heartedly. In the meantime, we keep at it. We put in long, tedious hours because we feel that we must.

Until something snaps. It can be an argument or an accident or the long daily grind that finally does it. We reach the point where we can no longer go on. We put down that mop, refuse to make any more phone calls, resign from positions high and low.

We thus do the "irresponsible" thing, and it feels great. We exchange the certainty of a regular paycheck and the routine of a job for an uncertain, potentially ruinous future and a lot more freedom.

At this point, some of you are no doubt asking, "What do you mean we, Kemo Sabe?" Fair enough, Tonto. Some people can appreciate this, others not. The dividing line is probably experience. If you've been pushed up against it and called it quits, you'll realize what an exhilarating thing that can be.

Your humble adventurer watched his own father quit a job of a dozen years and struggled for well over a year to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads while he searched for a new gig. The old man somehow managed to pull us through.

I myself have quit three or four jobs. Can't say I recommend it, exactly, especially in an economy as unforgiving as the present one. On the other hand, I've never regretted quitting and every time... what a rush. When things get bad at work, there's always the temptation to exercise my God given right of exit.

That's what Palin did. She shrugged off the responsibilities of high office to reclaim a life of her own. To all appearances, she couldn't be happier about it. Frantic careerists are still trying to wrap their heads around that one.

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About the Author

Braggadocio Jones is a writer and adventurer.