Q is for quest … and question.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Hi, I’m Nona Breaux and in a moment of weakness volunteered to help out Amanda by taking the letter Q. I’m no stranger to writing, having worked at The Reporter for more than 38 years -- yes, I’m that old -- before retiring at the end of 2011.

However,  it’s been a bit since I’ve actually sat down and tried to put pen to paper -- or make that word to computer.

But here goes!

Q is for quest … and question.

I don’t care how old I might be, I don’t think I will ever stop being on some quest on another -- and

I’ll never stop questioning what the heck is going on in this world, where exactly am I going, how did I get to be as relatively lucky as I have been in life or how I have survived some really horrific events and resolved to continue moving on.

When you think about it, we’re all on our own quests and probably we’re part of other people’s journeys and various causes as well. I can’t say that I have some magnificent goal to change the world; that I ever thought I’d find the cure for cancer; or that I’d be a changing force in anyone’s life. I doubt that I’ll be long remembered by other than a few family members and maybe a friend or two after I shuffle off this mortal coil; but I also hope I haven’t sat quietly by, saying nothing that might have made a difference here or there during my lifetime.

When I was growing up and living on a small farm, there were always plenty of animals in my life. I got my first pony when I was 3 or 4, graduated to a horse at about age 12, was involved in 4-H with cows, pigs and chickens, and always was surrounded by cats and dogs -- not to mention other farm critters.

And so I think my first quest was to become a veterinarian. I could just picture myself healing cats and dogs, horses and cows. I would be known far and wide as that woman vet who had a way with any critter.

Then I got to high school and encountered chemistry. I truly had to question my quest at that point, when it was more than obvious that this was not my strong suit. It was tough to give up that particular quest and to question what in the world would be any alternative.

It turned out that my years in college, working on the campus newspaper and truly loving to write would lead to my long career at The Reporter.

I certainly started at the bottom -- working in the morgue (library), writing weddings and engagements, handling rewrites and the like. But again I was on a quest, and editor Dick Shearer gave me the chance to cover municipal meetings. There was no looking back. I stopped questioning my career choice and, happily, was able to work my way up to various editor positions, holding the rank of executive editor when I retired.

During that quest there were so many changes in the world of journalism -- I actually worked on a manual typewriter at first, then an electric one, then finally a computer. The tech world changed everything, and at the end of that career I was handling our web page, Facebook page, Twitter feed and texts, plus the “normal” paper journalism.

Retiring led to another question -- what now? And the quest changed back to my original love -- animals and the world of veterinarians. I certainly could not actually be a vet, but I was so fortunate to land a job behind the scenes at Harleysville Veterinary Hospital. Front-desk work, appointments, cleanup (yes, pets DO have accidents at the vet), phones, helping out wherever needed -- I no longer had to question what would fill my day.

After about four years there, I decided to answer another question/quest -- travel. So once again I retired (although I still sub in at the vet) and had the great good luck to head to Germany with a longtime friend. Two weeks in a country where I had never ventured before proved beyond awesome. I had fulfilled another quest -- one that has left me hungry for more adventures.

Through this rambling, I want to encourage everyone to never stop questioning what they can do, what they want to do, what they should do. I have started volunteering again with Stray Cat Blues, helping kitties that need forever homes. I’ve joined a book club. I’ll never run like Amanda does, but I sweat through workout DVDs and hit the treadmill with music blaring. I sometimes feel like I’m running my own geriatric cat hospital at home, since my critters mostly are in the senior range, some with health challenges.

It’s still a shock to look in the mirror and realize how many decades have somehow flown by. But there’s no point in questioning that too much. It is what it is.

What I won’t do is end my quest for new adventures, for opportunities to help others, for ways to stay active and continue to educate myself.

I also won’t stop questioning injustices, prejudices, bigotry or the motives of those trying to destroy this great nation.

I hope you will do the same -- find a quest worthy of yourself and never stop asking those important questions.

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