By Michael Tessler
I’m writing this from about 34,000 feet in the air. There’s a great landscape below me: America. This vast and beautiful country feels endless from this vantage point. No matter how old I get or how many times I take the voyage, I’ll never quite get over the fact that you can start your day on Main Street, Port Jefferson and end it on Hollywood Boulevard.
It has been a record amount of time since I’ve had a day off. Not that I’m counting. I’m nearing one month since I’ve had one truly mindless or menial day. I’m not complaining — working in Los Angeles is a blessing. Though it is a constant hustle to survive, this struggle has made me grateful for the many blessings in my life and the many people that have gotten me here.
It is easy to forget the power of the written word. Being back on Long Island for a few days, I was reminded of its incredible power by my co-worker Liz (you may know her as the bubbly sales representative who is constantly in motion). After reading my column on my weight loss journey, she began a daily routine of walking FIVE MILES every morning. You can imagine my shock, surprise and gratitude when I heard that just a few small printed letters could cause such a positive and lasting impact on someone.
So here I am, hoping I can provide some inspiration to you by sharing some lessons I was reminded of during my few days back with TBR News Media.
Local news is the beating heart of a community. Most of us take it for granted. Until I worked for the paper, I know I certainly did. That all changed after spending time with our publisher, Leah Dunaief, who at each editorial and sales meeting reminds us of the importance of the work we do and what it means to the community we serve. Leah taught me that anything can become an inspiring and exciting subject, with enough passion and pride.
There is a sense of belonging and place that comes with the printed word. When we set aside the digital drabble of social media and open the pages of our hometown paper, we’re reminded of how special we are. Whether happy or sad, tragic or celebratory — this publication tells our story and brings us together in the process.
We write lengthy and ever-amusing responses to the stories we disagree with. With great, rambunctious passion we debate parking meters and zoning laws. It may seem simple or even small, but hovering above the great American landscape I can’t help but think of how beautiful it is, this weekly celebration of us.
So as I reach the conclusion of an incredibly difficult and humbling stretch of work, riddled with successes, failures, lessons learned both easy and hard, I am reminded of the lessons taught to me by my second family at TBR News Media. Love what you do. Love who you work with. Love the community you call home and love yourself enough to take time off.
To Leah, who has believed in me and provided me with more opportunity than any person I’ve ever known: Thank you. You challenge me constantly to dream bigger, think smarter and cherish the people around me.
To Kathryn, who taught me the value of hard work and building lasting, meaningful relationships. You gave me my hustle and drive and reminded me to appreciate just how cute the little ones in our life are.
To Meg, who reminds me that to change a person’s day all you need is a smile and song, you warm every room you enter with your kindness.
To the entire TBR family, you remind me that home is always waiting for you and filled with love … no matter how far you may roam or how long.
To the readers who keep this heart beating, I’m thankful. May the love that goes into each page of this paper transcend into your home this holiday season. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a Happy New Year from a grateful native son living his Hollywood dream.
The author is an award-winning film and television producer and CEO of Multihouse Entertainment in Los Angeles.