There are times in life where situations yank your chain tight, jerk you around and force your attention. If you’re lucky, these are also moments that offer you that rare chance to step outside your normal perspective and reflect. That moment of perspective came looking for me 10 days ago and has had me thinking.
Roughly two weekends back I was doing the sort of thing I do in life. I was at a Lexington convention representing a mix of companies and enjoying the traveling circus that is “con life”. Sunday morning (third day of a three day show) I got a call that yanked my chain taut. Rachel (aka Ginny Tonic) was in intense pain and was headed for an urgent treatment center. I could hear the pain in her voice. The kids were shuffled to a neighbor and she was driving herself to seek treatment. For me, this was one of those drop everything moments. I quickly coordinated with friends to covered our tables at the show and I was on a 90 minutes race towards Cincinnati.
Over the last 10 days I’ve been at her side through two surgeries and now she’s on the mend toward a complete recovery. I will admit that there were moments that were scary as the situation kept teasing toward being very serious but, thankfully, never took that turn. She endured pain that would have made me crumble and I find new ways to be amazed by her every day we are together.
On that point of reflection I was describing above, the focus wasn’t a novel lightbulb or deep realization that hit me with some profound truth. It was just an extended consideration of the age old question… what’s that elusive meaning of life? You see, I’ve been tired (deeply tired) for a while now and I know I’ve been pushing far too hard at the expense of my own health. I’ve had trouble seeing may way through it though. Seeing the right path to taking back my life has been hard as I’ve not know where to let things slide and I keep adding rather subtracting like there is no limit to my time. In all honesty, this is not the first time in life I’ve hit this wall but standing here today it does feel like a turning point is coming and I see a path unveiling itself. If that is the case, this is no small feat as, in many ways, I’ve been doing this work/life frenetic pattern since the 80’s. I’m not sure I know how to slow down, but I need to learn.
These past 10 days became a time for re-evaluation. Rachel hitting a bump in the road drove the point home in a deeper way and made everything easier to see. Much to my own discomfort, it made me consider what it would feel like if my life suddenly changed. It made me consider the regrets I might harbor. It gave me a crystal clear look at some things I might be missing in a mad dash for publicly recognized success. It made me take note of where I stand today and what’s important…. what really matters.
To the point, if I’m working so hard that I miss time with my fiancé and my family, what’s the point of the work I’m doing? Worse, if at the end of the day I’m so tired all I can do is stare into an iPad because conversation is too tough, what’s the point? Isn’t life about the quiet times? You know, the times you remember through the years. The times you recharge. The moments you get to share with individuals you unquestionably love? If that isn’t the goal of all the work you do… the payoff if you will, what’s the reason for all the things you do? Sure it puts food on the table but if in the end you are sitting eating alone you’ve lost in a fundamentally deeper way. Life can’t be all about the work and it should never be work just for work’s sake.
The question I find myself asking is what’s the goal here? More importantly, which things am I doing in my life that are leading me toward that goal? I run conventions. I podcast. I maintain a deeply evolved website. I’m part of a tech startup. I’m part of a tourism company. I’m a man with a family. Which aspects of this puzzle are me and which are work for work’s sake? I want and need more time with my family. Even more, I want to reach that point where I can just sit, breathe and not feel like the tasks racing around my life are just piling up as a result of my inactivity. I need change and change is going to come.
I have a plan. Stay tuned…