By Darren Lum
Two simple words with great weight.
I am grateful to everyone who gave their time, but, more importantly, opened their homes, their lives and their hearts in sharing their stories. I am thankful to this community that has become more home than where I grew up.
Journalism has been a demanding, but rewarding profession.
I am proud to say I’ve had a fulfilling career, fuelled by a passion to be a storyteller.
It’s always been about the people. I couldn’t tell a story or take a photo without you all.
I recognize everyone. The positive. The negative. The indifferent.
Your validation meant more than all the awards I have earned. I couldn’t improve without criticism. Intriguing those who don’t read newspapers was my aim. I wouldn’t have perspective without the shared experiences from seeing a calf being born on Easter Day to attending a plane crash.
I’ve heard it said that journey’s are trips you take alone while those you share with others are adventures. What an adventure it has been.
This past year as editor, first as the Echo and County Life, and then interim-editor of the Minden Times is something I won’t forget.
A sports editor at the Kenora Daily Miner and News told me at my first reporting job when I was working there for the summer between my second and third year at Humber College, “If you stay in journalism for more than five years you’ll stay for life.” Well, if 20 years is life, then the mantra is true.
I extend this same mantra to the incoming editor of the Echo and County Life, Vivian Collings.
I leave without a fortune my accountant can be worried about for tax season, but I take something more important: the value of community.
Community spirit is priceless. It’s there for the families left homeless after a fire. It’s there for the children, who need food while attending school. It’s in the volunteers who make everything happen here.
When I think the world is harsh and cold I’m warmed by the knowledge of a trio of cousins – founders of Families in Motion! – returning home and working to facilitate family socializing at the West Guilford Community Centre. It’s one example of many here, which touches my heart.
In a day an age of memes and self-help slogans, I’m not supposed to have regrets.
However, I do. I wish I filed more stories. I wished this and that were covered to greater depth. As much as some readers want to criticize me for what I didn’t do for this paper and the community, I have always held my self to greater criticism than they will ever know. More than 20 years and being a Capricorn has a way of informing me of a my shortcomings.
Someone asked me about how many photos I’ve taken during my career.
I wasn’t even sure. From burning through about four camera shutters in my career, that probably gets me close to a million. Conservatively, I guess I’ve written about a quarter of that. Counting has never been my focus though. I believe there is more to us than the time we’ve been around, but the life we have lived.
A friend told me about a podcast, expressing how journalists are taught to find out about other people’s stories and often don’t take the time to explore their own. It’s true to some degree. I’m ready to find myself and to write the next chapter in my narrative. I’ve been told I made a difference, and that I’m courageous and brave for making this decision to leave the papers. I believe it’s within us all to make decisions that leave us with no clear future, but to open a door to a new horizon full of opportunity. Here’s to a new day, a new chapter and new vision. Time to take that step.