Go For It
I met Brad, an old acquaintance, this past weekend. Brad is a friend of a friend, who passed away last year. We reconnected at the memorial service in the way that these things tend to happen: short and sweet, either just before or just after the service, before we head off in our separate directions.
At events like these there is also an unspoken gratitude of still being above ground. And if we’re lucky—in good enough health.
These conversations represent the briefest of soundbite exchanges of where we are compared to where we were; how the kids are doing, or catching up on the current grandchild count. Which leaves about sixty seconds to update on our latest other achievements.
So in those final moments I asked Brad if he was still working.
“I sold my business five years ago,” he began comfortably. I did the mini-cringe internally, because I quite obviously hadn’t remembered that he told me this the last time we spoke, in similar circumstances, a year ago.
Fortunately for me, Brad did not seem to remember that I had forgotten, or at the very least is so well-mannered that I couldn’t tell if he was bothered. Though the next part of his response made it clear how he felt.
“I get up in the morning when I feel like it, then I decide what I want to do each day based on what I want to do each day. The time seems to manage itself.”
How do you respond to that kind of statement? Here is a man, about my age, who has found contentment in the moment. Who worked very hard for years and has decided to appreciate his wife, his family, and each day, without demand. He sounded content.
But I felt a jolt of confusion. Was he telling the truth? Had he spent five years leading the contented life, reading books, doing whatever he pleased, visiting children in the UK, vacationing as the pandemic permitted? Or was he lying to himself or just to me? Who could be truly happy living like that?
More important what does it say about me that I could have that reaction?
I don’t think I’m ready to manage all that contentedness. I need daily struggle, whether it’s writing these blogs, or posting to my social media, trying to make a difference to young and old professionals, or writing my non-fiction guide books and murder mysteries.
And yes, I recognize that is a bit of an unholy alliance and I really should adopt a pen-name….but I won’t.
You see, I understand me. Stubborn, needing to feel continually challenged. I’m not at all envious that Brad has managed to put all that competitive spirit behind him and has evolved into his own rewirement.
The one thing Brad taught me this weekend is that there is no single way to rewire. In part, we are each stuck with our inner selves, subject to our obsessions, social obligations, and relatively different abilities to meditate over who we are and what we want.
This version of Brad reminds me of my sister, who goes by the name and title of Aatma, leading a daily spiritual quest in the Himalayas, as she had been for her entire adult life. She has connected with the universe, is satisfied with what she has, and is interested in her enlightenment.
Brad and Aatma are living the life that some of wish we were psychologically capable of living. A life of appreciation.
The point is that most of us are not capable of that kind of enlightenment. I for one, don’t feel the least bit guilty that I’m still driven, and unless the brain adjuster shows up one day and loosens the wiring of my brain, I am likely to remain like this for a long time.
So here are my final thoughts. Begin by asking yourself what you want and if you really want it. If so, don’t be embarrassed that you’re different from Brad or Aatma or me. Don’t hold back.
Just go for it.