This is a farewell, not a funeral

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Despite having rarely travelled outside of Florida, I’m an unquestionably restless fellow with an insatiable wanderlust marked by a relentless forward inertia that has both plagued and possessed me to hop from place to place.

I’ve found a way to wriggle my way out of every responsibility and passion I’ve ever chained myself to.

It’s one of the reasons I dropped out of high school to go to college. Then dropped out of college to go to work as a chef. Then dropped my work as a chef to work on my personal writing – et cetera.

In my time at Clay Today, I’ve encountered a number of passionate people that call Clay County home. And I’m no liar, I’ve also met people I don’t care for. I’ve also met people who don’t care for me.

Despite my love of journalism, I feel the tug of something new at my lapels, and I’m going to follow it where it leads me.

I’ve been reporting on Clay County going on two years now. You’ve seen me in your mailbox, grocery stores and your coffee shops. You’ll still see me in those places – sans the mailbox. You just won’t see me on a shelf. You’ll see me sitting down in tennis shoes, sipping tea and talking.

I’m trading in my notebook and pen for a nail and hammer and going to learn the ins and outs of carpentry.

It’s a big shift, but hopefully it’s a transition I can pull off.

I’ve had successes and setbacks in my time here. Last year, I was able to take home two state awards for reporting I did on our county. Conversely, I’ve also had to redact and rewrite an entire story before.

It’s between those peaks and valleys that you grow.

I’m reminded of the anxiety I felt transitioning into high school. I was a tremendously anxious and awkward youth hidden under purple eyes and a red shock of hair. I was more worried about figuring out how to use a locker than I was doing well in my classes.

The adjustment took growth that I wasn’t capable of at the time, and I spent more time talking than I did listening.

Listening is paramount to being a reporter. And for two years, I’ve tried to do my best to listen and reciprocate and voice the changes in the community.

Clay County stands at a precipice of change where transportation initiatives bring the potential for a massive economic boon that will likely disfigure what many longtime residents once saw in Clay County. The small towns, the rural quietness. Peace.

It’s the ability to prepare, adapt and listen that will make the county, and me, successful in these changes.

No good man or community is etched in stone, and liquidity is the hallmark of our species. We sing elegies to our former selves daily, hoping that by midday we’ll find a better person staring back at us.

These aren’t funerals, they’re farewells.

Now let’s shake the dust and get to work.

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