Thursday, May 23, 2013

Life Deferred


I went to a retirement party recently and the retiree is moving to the Black Hills in South Dakota. It sounded like he always enjoyed the black hills and enjoyed this little corner of the Mississippi River Valley because in many ways with the hills and trees it reminded him of the Black Hills. As he mentioned a couple times moving back there and building a house and barn I was a bit surprised. He spent most of his life living here, building relationships, throwing parties, and now he is going to uproot to go a place it sounds like he wanted to go for a couple decades. I interpret that message very clearly. I see myself in that story. I like it here and it is a really nice place, a place I could spend years of my life, but my entire career? Am I deferring life right now?

There are other aspects to it, it’s summer camp time of year and I am missing camp and my friends and the daily rhythm of camp. The groggy mornings, where in general there is actually less of a rush to get to work than I have daily to get to my work. Camp also has a sort of relaxed but serious atmosphere. In other words, we nap hard and lay around a fair amount, but everyone knows CPR and gets work done. 

Another strange thing happened this past week. A friend in town asked me how long until I applied for a transfer somewhere else. I was totally caught off guard. I will get back to that, another example in the last week it was evening and I wanted to just watch something for a half hour or hour and zone out, but I realized I have seen all of my dvds and I just renewed my lease for a third year. Three years in one little apartment! Have I developed enough?

Where does this this part of my life fit into my life. At every experience along the way I meet people who have arrived. In high school some people peaked. In college others peaked. Now that I am out in the work force some people have a well paying job, a house, a car, a boat, whatever, and it seems that they have arrived where they want to be. I struggle with this, and I might always. At what point is it enough? I'm not talking about money or possessions, I'm talking about experience. I'm talking about having learned and being done!

I hate myself. I've mentioned that before, and it's really not that direct or sincere. I mean it's like 8% hate, 85% love, 7% ignorance. What I am saying is that the thought of settling, for just about anything, is a hard pill to swallow. The thought of doing what I am doing now at work for the next 35 years is not exciting. The thought of never setting another running personal record is terrifying. Yet especially for running, that day will happen when I no longer set a personal record. There will be a last personal record, probably in my late 30s or early 40s depending on the distance. A run, I won't know at the time, but my last fastest race. A running career is like a life or professional nonathletic career compressed. It begins in the teens and ends in the 30s or 40s. It's a short short time to achieve something surprising. 

Similarly every year spent working for a large corporation is a year not spent at a start up. Every year following the process is a year not creating the process. On a tangent, I intend to file a patent this summer or fall. I have an idea, and no one has ever tried to do it. I'm going to do it. 

What I am saying is that life is short. Our days are finite. My three deceased grandparents lived for 14,630, 25,508, and 31,618 days respectively. I understand that life is not all roses, bills have to be paid, people supported, etc. However, we live in the United States, the richest, or at least one of the richest countries in the world. Yes, it is honorable to spend your life toiling so that the next generation can have a better life, but we are that generation. Let us go out and have a better life. It's not about the money or the possessions. 

Think of it this way, you, and everyone really, has skills. Some skills you are good at and other are too. Some skills you rock the house and you love to do. Other skills you are probably pretty good at, but not particularly fond of. The challenge is to find the what you were born to do. Now, it probably changes over the course of your life, but it might not. The reason it is important is that you will be more productive in your best position. We all know those people, the ones with the magic touch. The person that solves problems by the score. For example, in Davenport there is a guy who fixed things. He welds, grinds, torches, paints, and does what it takes to fix things. He is often the most valuable person as five engineers stand around waiting for him to finish stuff. I don't know much about him but in the moment, watching him work, he was meant to do this.

This if your life, you just spent two minutes reading this. Thank you for reading! Now go out there, do what you do, and do it as the best version of yourself! Life will never be perfect yet that is not an excuse to defer using your gifts to make the world a better place. 

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