It's not often one gets a chance to live
their dream. Yet here I am, looking ahead
to an exciting future, counting myself
among the lucky ones as I embark on such
While it might seem such a magnanimous step
would be heralded with proverbial trumpets
and fanfare, my doorway into bliss was a bit
harder to recognize. My catalyst, in fact, was
rather ugly and scary. It was this: After a decade
in what I considered a stable job, I was fired.
I had been at the newspaper for 10 years, two
weeks and a few days. I won't dwell on the job,
but for those not familiar with working in a
newsroom, it's a high-stress environment, a
virtual pressure cooker. Daily deadlines are
intense and the pace can be brutal. We called
it "building the beast," and it started over
On an October afternoon, a Thursday to be exact,
my boss asked me to meet with him and the HR
director. The meeting was short and very direct:
"We have decided to terminate your employment."
I was stunned, no doubt looking at them like a
deer in headlights. "Why?" of course was my question.
"Well, I don't feel comfortable discussing that
right now" was the response. Interesting answer,
I thought, since I was about to walk out the
building for the last time, so this was his only
chance to discuss it. I asked again, and was given
the last response I was to receive: "Just think
about it. You'll figure it out."
I'm still working on that one.
I unceremoniously emptied my desk, stopped by my
wife's office to inform her, then went home still
in a state of shock, numb for the remainder of
the day. The night was long as I labored to shut
out the day's events and go to sleep.
I anticipated a strange morning, as the
impulse of repetition would take over and
I'd awake ready to prepare myself for the
morning commute to the office. My first
lucid thought of the morning, however, was
that I didn't have to go to the office; not
that I couldn't go, but I didn't have to go.
I had known for some time I was unhappy at
my job, but I didn't realize until then that
I had been miserable. The weight of the stress
that fell from my body that morning was like
lead, and the change was vast and complete. The
change was as much physical as mental. Within
one week, I stopped taking blood-pressure pills,
sleeping pills and "nerve" pills - just didn't
need them anymore.
Of course, this was also the tricky stage:
What to do now? I knew another newspaper job,
or any job involving a cubicle was out of the
question. For sake of my sanity, and health,
it had to be something else.
The answer was simple enough. I had been a
part-time fishing guide for four years, taking
out clients on weekends, holidays and vacation
days. Fishing pictures and decorations surrounded
my computer and filled my work area, and many a
day I sat in my cubicle and dreamed of being out
on the water, envious of those who made guiding
Thinking back on those days, I am amazed, and
ashamed of myself. I knew what I wanted to do;
I had the ability, but I didn't have the courage.
And I believe that's how dreams are lost for
many people. We stand at the threshold of our
dreams, think about them, consider the pros and
cons, and deliberate over the details, yet we
don't take that first step. We are strangled
by the fear of the unknown, and our dreams,
though not dead, are stifled, suppressed and
relegated to a virtual shelf where we visit them
on occasion, maybe even mourn for them.
I understand those fears all too well and,
unfortunately, can offer little advice on how
to get over them. My first step came in the
form of a firm and forceful push, thrust into
the unknown where my dream was no longer
the fearful, but the most logical course.
Once in that position, direction came rather
easy as I realized it was up to me to shape
my career, and life, as I wished. For better
or worse, I was in control. That's when I took
the really big step.
Along with a lifetime of fishing in south
Louisiana, I have also fished for many years
in southwest Montana, thanks to the standing
invitation of a dear friend who lives near
Bozeman. Each year, I looked forward to my
all-too-brief respite from the blazing south
Louisiana summer as I traveled north, dipping
my feet into the cold, clear waters of such
legendary rivers as the Gallatin, Madison and
Yellowstone. More than once my conversation
would turn to, "I have to figure out how to be
up here in the summer, and down South for the
What was casual conversation became prophetic.
The opportunity lay before me, and I took it.
Now, thanks to another dear friend and outfitter,
I will travel north in the spring and park my
camper in Ennis, Montana, to guide on the area
rivers throughout the summer, then return to my
home waters for fall and winter.
Looking back, it all seems so simple now. I
knew exactly what I wanted to do, even what I
needed to make it happen. But like so many others
struggling with a dream, I was holding on to my
"real job," even though I was miserable, because
it was safe. I might have wanted to be fishing
instead of in my cubicle, but I got a paycheck
at the end of the week, and that security kept
Ironically, that security also blurred my vision.
I couldn't see past the fear and into the unknown
because I was still focused on the known, the
safe. It wasn't until that door closed behind
me that I could truly see my future.
That's not to say the transition is easy; far
from it. It takes time to become established
as a guide, and there are difficult times in
the interim. I liken it to a patient with a
terrible disease, and the doctor says, "We can
cure you, but it will get worse before it gets
better." This is where love and support beyond
oneself becomes vital.
When I told my wife I was fired she was, of course,
also stunned. But she immediately gave me a hug
and a kiss and said, "It will be fine. We'll
work it out." Then when I told her I wanted
to pursue guiding instead of getting another
"real job," she gave me her complete support
without hesitation. She knew it meant a very
lean period; some bills would be late and many
hurdles would have to be crossed. But she stood,
and continues to stand firmly beside me, doing
whatever it takes to make the dream come true.
She does have the ulterior motive of wanting
me to be successful enough that she can quit
her 9-to-5 and spend summers in Montana with me.
But that's not enough to take the leap of faith
she is making. She is standing with me out of
love, commitment and confidence.
So I can offer one very valuable piece of advice
for anyone struggling with what they're going to
be when they grow up. If you're going to chase
your dream, make sure you're married to the right
person. It makes all the difference. ~ Marty
Capt. Marty D. Authement owns and operates Marsh Madness
guided fishing service in Houma, Louisiana (winter) and also guides
out of Ennis, Montana (summer). He can be
reached at, email@example.com
or visit his Website at www.marshmadness.net,
or cell phone at: (985) 688-4495.