They knew how different materials created different results, and worked tirelessly to turn out quality products.
They started as boys, became apprentices, and then were masters of their own shops. Esteemed and valued, they were absolute experts in their field.
And it was a field that was dying.
Because these were the buggy whip manufacturers of 1900.
Oh, they knew exactly how to make a whip for you if you had a pony cart. And what to make if you were driving a team of eight. They knew the perfect supple leathers to use, and how to make the best grip for any kind of weather.
They were amazing artisans.
But by about 1930, cars had overtaken the horse and buggy, and fewer and fewer people needed a whip to drive their non-existent team of horses. In the span of a just few years, the centuries-old whip making industry was dead.
And many people were out of a job.
I’ll bet there were plenty of old whip makers who sat around on porches and complained that the world was a hard place, and lamented that a way of life was gone – a way of life that was good, honest and simple.
I’ll also bet that there were some buggy whip makers who saw the writing on the wall and became leather workers in another field. They fashioned belts or jackets. Or sofas.
Or maybe went outside their trade and became chauffeurs of new-fangled automobiles.
Or started a real estate business. Or went to school.
It seems to me that there are always some people who take loss – expected or unexpected – as a catalyst to shape a new identity. They drop an old way of being and exchange it for a new way of living, seemingly taking it all in stride.
And then there are those who don’t.
Isn’t that fascinating? Someone was really great – at the top of their game – as a… travel agent. And rather than say, “I was a great travel agent, and I’m sure I’m going to be a great at something new”, they spend their energy wishing that the entire world would change and everyone would start using paper tickets again. Maybe someone felt so in the zone as a journalist, or a record label executive, or a book publisher – and then technology forever changed those fields.
It seems like some of us bang our heads against the wall desperately trying to find another job just like the one that will never, ever exist again.
Likewise, maybe we’re stuck because we got such comfort and sense of place being someone’s… spouse, child, grandchild, loved one.
Yet we spend our days honoring the gap in our lives rather than honoring the lives that were lived.
It’s important to grieve loss. In fact, it’s vital to your overall health and well-being – you have to understand what happened, and try to find a why…if there is a why to be found.
But it’s what you do when you find yourself in one of these change points makes all the difference.
You need to fashion a new story of who you are – a new identity – which honors the past but allows you to be fully present in the here and now.
To even get started, you have to be brave.
To take the first steps, simply embrace even the saddest loss as an opportunity to create a new identity. Draw strength from how great you were with the person or thing you loved, but move forward fully open to the idea that something new can be something good, too.
Or, alternatively, you can sit on the porch with your complaints and cling to the past.
The choice is entirely yours.