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Photo: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian.
Paul White: ‘After one 21-hour work day, I told my mum I planned to quit. As soon as I uttered the words, I felt the weight lift.’

Have you ever had a really bad boss? I have. I was afraid to quit without another paycheck in hand. It took five years to find one, but it was worth it. It turned out to be my best job.

One thing about the pause from normal life that we can chalk up to Covid is the reassessment of how we’ve been spending our time. The media is full of stories about people who thought deeply about their jobs and ended up quitting.

Today’s article is about a guy who felt a wave of relief when he turned his back on the stress of work and found a new line.

Deborah Linton at the Guardian gets the story from 35-year-old Paul White of Lancashire, UK.

“In May 2018, I became leader of my local council, Pendle, in Lancashire. A year later, after nearly a decade in local politics, I quit. Alongside my council duties, I had been growing a business: milk and grocery delivery to 100,000 customers, locally and elsewhere in the country. I had a 3 a.m. milk round, so I’d be up before dawn delivering bottles, jumping on a train to Westminster after lunch to meet government ministers, and heading back to chair a council meeting that evening.

“My heart was constantly racing. Shortly before my election as leader, I’d been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy – heart failure. I’d been fitted with a pacemaker and defibrillator, and put on medication, but I’d torn up the doctor’s note, convinced I was too busy to take time off. …

“After one 21-hour work day, towards the end of 2018, I told my mum I planned to quit; as soon as I uttered the words, I felt the weight lift. …

“For a while, I did nothing, which was an enormous and uncomfortable culture shift. Then I remembered dreams I’d harbored as a kid, when I’d draw maps of farms I wanted to own. I had studied rural enterprise at university, but the idea of working in agriculture got lost in business and politics. I’d kept an eye on the farming press and, in early 2021, still reeling from the pandemic, I spotted warnings of a turkey shortage at Christmas – a result of supply chain and labor issues stemming from Brexit.

“I rented an acre of woodland in[Laneshawbridge], bought 200 turkey chicks for £2,000 [~$2,500] , and read up on how to rear them. I set up the business in three weeks, figuring I’d see a return in 20 weeks, when the local pubs and butchers were ready for their birds.

“Each day, I get up with my turkeys at dawn and close them in at dusk. I work alone, but I’ve learned a lot, educating myself on the job – the weird ways the turkeys react to noise, how much they eat, and how loud they are. … I’ve rented 11 more acres and, this year, I’ll start a commercial flock of egg-laying chickens, then move on to sheep. …

“I was named Young Lancastrian of the Year in 2018, but, when I look back at photos, I seem grey, thin, ill. Now, I spend hours outdoors. I lead a walking group, and clock up even more miles with my dog. I tend to my turkeys by the river, and potter around the village talking to people. …

“There are downsides to life on the farm: rain, animals die, and you have to be very smart to make a living from it. … Emotionally, it’s been hard to come to terms with the change. Handing over the keys to the town hall was a huge relief, yet I toy daily with going back – it feels like unfinished business. People who wanted my attention for years, whom I considered friends, disappeared. I’ve also found it hard to reconcile myself with the idea that I’m not contributing to the world. … Now I question if it’s OK for life to feel this simple.”

More at the Guardian, here.

Just for fun, here’s a wild turkey in Providence, RI. Turkeys have to be the world’s most self-important birds. They never worry if they’re contributing to a better world.

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