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From the Editor

No more dragons to slay

  • 2 min to read

We all know that it will happen someday, but when it really does happen, it’s a profound shock.

One day, you’re the promising up-and-comer and the next you’re looking at the back side of your career and talking with your friends about retirement.

One day you’re the center of attention at your graduation or wedding, the next you’re blowing off your 30th reunion or celebrating your 30th anniversary.

One day, you’re trying to herd a mob of rambunctious toddlers in your living room, the next you’re seeing them off to college.

In other words, age suddenly catches up with you.

I am sure it happens for different people in different times and ways, but for me it started as I approached my 50th birthday. I don’t put a lot of stock in milestones like that in themselves, but it happened that a number of major life events came together in that late 40s, early 50s zone: my parents died (two years apart), my older kid went off to college, and my wife made a major career change that changed how we live fairly significantly.

And at the same time, I began noticing a couple of other signs – my glasses seem to get weaker every year. My hair finally gave up even pretending to be brown. And don’t get me started on my knees (Yes, it turns out the whole “aches before a weather change” thing is pretty much true).

But at the same time, I am discovering there are certain advantages to reaching that temporal tipping point in life, the big one being a sense of mellowness.

When I was interviewing for this job back in early 2014, the publisher put me through a grueling all-day series of meetings with my would-be colleagues. Several of them raised a concern about my resume – I am an insatiable job hopper. My average time in a job was around 2 years, the longest just five years.

Will you stick around in this job, they asked?

I thought about it a little, and shrugged. “I have no more dragons to slay,” I said.

In that moment, I realized – to my surprise – that I really didn’t. I could take the Register job and not feel that restless need to climb the ladder. It was OK that I would never work at the New York Times or win a Pulitzer.

It wasn’t so much that my ambitions had disappeared, but rather they had assumed a more realistic and comfortable dimension.

That mellow feeling has spread as I have been in this job, which is one I have wanted to do for my whole career.

Sure, I’ve had the occasional thought about a different job or a different city, but it doesn’t come with the kind of anxiety and longing that I remember from my youth. Or that I see in my own kids and my much younger former students and employees.

It’s not like my horizons have narrowed, exactly, but rather I am far more content to examine the current horizon and enjoy it.

With age, I’ve realized that it’s OK to foreclose possibilities and enjoy being right when you are.

Sean Scully's top 5 most memorable stories of 2019

We've done a lot of good work over the past year, so picking the most memorable can be tough, but here are the ones that stand out in my mind for various reasons.

We highlighted the stories of 10 Napa County residents who served their country in the military, with stories of courage and perseverance.

For the one-year anniversary of the Pathway Home shooting in Yountville, we examined what it meant to the community and survivors.

Reporter Courtney Teague took a deep dive into our housing crunch, looking at its effects on physical and mental health of area residents.

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You can reach Sean Scully at 256-2246 or



Sean has been editor of the Napa Valley Register since April of 2014. His previous credits include the Press Democrat, The Weekly Calistogan, The Washington Times and Time and People magazines.

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