Lost in thought a lot lately. Time for retrospective and more than a little second-guessing.

We came to Floyd County with so much enthusiasm and hope in 2004. After 39 years in journalism and politics, much of it on the road, I looked forward to a more relaxed lifestyle and a laid-back life in the country.

Well, relaxed I’m not. Laid back? Not hardly. After five years, I’m worn out, exhausted both mentally and physically and wondering, for the first time in five years, if Amy and I made the right decision to leave the hustle and bustle of Washington.

I’m sure there are more than a few out there who agree that we should have stayed in Washington. God knows I’ve caused enough trouble over the past several months. Made a bunch of people mad. Hardly a day goes by without at least one threat on my voice mail or an angry, hate-filled, anonymous diatribe via email.

Deciding to close our studio — my second business failure in five years — has brought on a deep funk. I try to lose myself in work but it doesn’t help. Failure does not sit well with someone who has enjoyed success for most of his life. Amy, the eternal optimist of the Thompson household, tries valiantly to bring me out of this depression but even her ever-cheerful perkiness isn’t working this time.

It’s not just the closing of two businesses: They are just the culmination of things. I find myself extremely bothered the recent debate over an announced data center in the Commerce Park. Maybe I shouldn’t care but I do. I certainly shouldn’t care so much.

I worry that Floyd County may be losing its soul. Some of my friends say I’m overreacting. I hope so.

I’ve overcome a lot in my life: a 23-year-denial of alcoholism followed by a 15 year battle facing the beast; the loss of loved ones under tragic circumstances and enough exposure to enough death and horror to make Stephen King retch.

But the malaise brought on by the latest events and setbacks won’t let go. Even 100 miles on my motorcycle can’t put my mind at ease. I keep looking back, wondering where and why things went wrong and second-guessing the decisions that led our current situation.

It’s not my nature to be morose or to dwell on the past, but lately I have been guilty of both. As age 62 approaches, the prospect of starting over scares the hell out of me — and I’ve never been one to scare easily.

Doctors call it clinical depression. Amy calls it being human. I call it unacceptable and will, in time, work through it, so please bear with me until I do.

(Edited on 9/24/09 to amend some language)


  1. The Man upstairs puts us exactly where we are supposed to be in life. I always always questioned that until I lost everything with cancer, my job.my home, everything and one day I realized .This is so I can treasure it all more..Everyhting is better, more appreciated and grander to me now.

    some thing special will take its place.You have too much talent and also have such a graphic window on the world. Try to lean back and just suck in the beauty that is life. The other will come Sandy

  2. We have been so focused on success in the Western world that we don’t give ourselves (or our children) “permission” to fail. The Bible says, “It is required of a steward that he be found faithful” (not successful) We are here to be stewards of whatever talents and opportunities we have, to make the best of the good AND the bad.

    Sometimes we follow our dreams and they dead end where we least expect it, not because we did a bad job, but because it wasn’t where we were supposed to be or what we were supposed to be doing. You have these amazing talents for both photography and writing, and for observing the world around you and capturing it for the rest of us to see through your eyes. Maybe a studio isn’t the best way those talents should be used right now. Often what looks like failure is actually a redirection.

    Someone scoffed at Thomas Edison having done a thousand experiments on the incandescent light bulb that failed. He said, “Failed? I found a thousand things that didn’t work!” He didn’t consider them failures, but part of the learning process on his way to the goal. No matter what our age or experience, there is always something new to learn, a new direction to try. You may be on the verge of the most exciting and fulfilling accomplishment of your life if you can let go of this experience to get to it.

    Grieving the loss of this second studio is natural. Maybe part of the journey is to go through this so you can be encouragement to someone else going through the same thing. In this crazy economy, a lot of people are shuttering their businesses and rethinking their future employment plans.

    Don’t bikers live by the creed that it’s not about the destination, but the ride?

  3. Doug,
    You deserve an award from all of us in Floyd for your tremendous investigative reporting. The fact that you don’t have a major paper or network standing behind you to fend off the bullies puts a heavy burden on your shoulders.

    Please know that when groups of enlightened Floyd citizens get together, your latest accomplishment in writing about the purported data center is often discussed, with great praise for you. Everyone appreciates what you uncovered and Floyd County officials are sadly misguided if they don’t appreciate your work too.

    I’m so sorry about your shop, but many brilliant millionaires have had numerous business failures. It happens and it is heart breaking, but you WILL move on to another phase of your life.

    I hope that phase will include Floyd, because if you leave, it will truly be OUR loss.

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