Yesterday my little girl turned 5 and then I had a 2 hour homework battle with my 8 year old son. Having both of these experiences helped me realize that time is a crazy thing because weeks seem to drag on, but years seem to fly by.
Maybe our house is completely abnormal, but most weeks feel like a never ending Civil War skirmish where one side fires a volley and wounds a few soldiers, retreats into the woods, and waits for the other side to come charging out in response so they can wound a few soldiers and also run back to the woods. I don’t know if my wife and I are Union or Confederate, but it seems like no one ever wins, there is always pain and suffering (to a minor degree), and we almost always realize that we’re fighting with family in the end.
On the other hand, when I take the time to just sit and watch my children play, or see them open birthday presents on their big day, or sip a glass of wine and catch up with my wife after they’ve gone to bed it seems like time is just a blur. Where in the world did 5 years go?
The lesson I pondered last night after my skirmish with my son as I reflected on my daughter’s quick 5 years was this…EVERY MOMENT is valuable. I have to continue to discipline myself to stay in those moments because none of us ever really know the long term value of the moment we are in now. The Battle of Gettysburg happened when and where it was fought by chance when a skirmish turned into something bigger. The generals on the field of battle those 3 days in July 150 years ago could not have imagined the importance of what they were involved in at the time.
In the same way, we cannot know the importance of our daily skirmishes, quiet moments, fun, and toil with our friends and family so we owe it to each moment to treat it as if it is the most important moment of our lives; because it is, it is the one we have NOW.
It is true, if you travel to just about anywhere in America and go airport to hotel to meetings to hotel to airport, America is all the same. From Peoria to Portland, Charlotte to Champaign, Madison to Miami, San Francisco to Saginaw, or Dallas to Davenport every town in America has suburbs that are mind-numbing, bums on the street, non-descript strip malls, and the same chain restaurants. The inside of every hotel room is pretty much the same and it can all be depressing.
BUT…the good news is that if you are willing to be just a little bit adventurous, and look around, every town in America is also unique and cool! I’ve experienced Bricktown in Oklahoma City, The Student Union in Madison, WI, Livermore Valley outside of San Francisco, The Riverfront of Peoria, IL, The Harbor Center in Buffalo, NY and my own hometown’s US National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, NC just to name a few. All of these places are extremely cool and were memorable experiences. All it really takes is a desire to try something new, venture off the beaten path, and learn about the place you are in to realize that every town in America has something cool and unique about it.
Here’s to finding what is COOL about where you live and the next place you visit.
I hate treadmills. Other than getting sweaty and maybe a little bit tired, I never feel like I accomplish anything of value on a treadmill. I know some of my running friends, particularly my northern brethren, have to use the treadmill as an important part of their training during the winter months so I can appreciate that you sometimes CAN actually accomplish physical training on a treadmill.
For me, part of the reason I hate running on a treadmill is because of the life analogy it brings to mind. In life, as in running, sometimes we choose to, or simply have to get on a treadmill for awhile. We are seemingly just staying in one place in our life, not experiencing much of what is out there for us, but somehow getting dirty, sweaty, and tired. I find that this happens to me most often when I don’t take time to stop, slow things down, examine what is happening around me, and just be quiet and reflect on where I’m at and how I can experience more of life instead of just staying in one place getting sweaty. I’ve been in that place lately; darting mentally from one project to another, placing blame on clients for not being easy to work with, griping at my team about deadlines I know they are focused on, and generally moving too fast in one place to be very thoughtful about business or life.
Much like running outside after having been on a treadmill, I often find that when I get off of life’s treadmill, I start to appreciate beauty around me more, I discover new things that were really very close to me but I never saw because I was stuck on the treadmill, and I get energized by the other people and other exciting things going on around me.
Sometimes there’s no choice but to log your miles on the treadmill – it’s 35 degrees and rainy in Dallas today where I am attending a conference; and sometimes you find yourself on a treadmill in life. But next chance I get to be outside, running and experiencing the world around me, you can bet I’ll be out there. Today, in my life, however, I don’t have to wait for better weather – I’m getting off of life’s treadmill today and I’m going to experience the people and things around me in a new a refreshing way.
I’m not really a fan of being connected at 30,000 feet. It cuts down on the down time a flight used to create and makes everyone feel like they have to just continue to grind out their work while in the air. But here I am, returning emails, looking at files, and writing a blog.
Next time, I think I’ll just put my headphones on and relax with a book. (or Kindle).
Lack of connectivity leads to short blog posts.