Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, lived from 1547-1616 and was credited with saying, “The journey is the inn.” For me, these 5 words sum up my philosophy on life. It was certainly not always that way but I have learned a great deal over the past several years and now understand what he was trying to tell us. It also shows me that the human condition has not changed much in the last 400 or so years.
Over the years I have read many books, articles, and blog posts on success, achievement, and all that jazz but can tell you I now have quite a different point of view. It is easy to get caught up in the cycle of achievement and continue to strive for the “next” promotion, job, raise, bonus, or “insert your own answer here”. The fact is that it is never “done” and you will never “get there”. I am not saying you will not reach milestones but if the milestones are the rewards and you view striving to achieve them as means to an end, then you will enjoy far too little of life.
The best analogy I can provide is the following…
Lisa & I will celebrate our anniversary later this week (we have been married over 20+ years…she was a child bride..wink wink) and in all of that time, I have never bought her anything fantastic or taken her on some big getaway weekend. The reason is that I never wanted to wait for just one day each year to show her how happy I was to be married to her. I try to surprise her from time to time with flowers or wine because she makes my life fun and enjoyable every day and not just on our anniversary, Valentine’s Day, etc. I don’t want her to ever think that I don’t treasure what we have and that if I forget to tell her for 364 days, I can make up for that on our anniversary.
I believe this same approach is best for life in general. There are so many hackneyed sayings like “stop & smell the roses” but the reason they exist is because we continue to try to come up with ways to say it so we all will listen. Like many of us, I have experienced the stress of both working and not working and they each come with their unique challenges but the truth is that we tend to allow our focus to be hijacked and lose out on many wonderful moments in our lives. In reality the best moments in life are not those that are planned but the ones that take us by surprise when we allow our lives to unfold. I happened to be out of work during the latter half of Zane’s (our oldest) senior year of high school. It was not the best of all possible scenarios but because I was home many of those days, I was able to have great conversations with him in the middle of the afternoon that just happened. We both happened to be home and had the chance to discuss what was next for him. We would have definitely had some of these types of conversations regardless of my occupational status but I think it was the fact that I was there so much of the time that mattered. It was almost like God decided I needed to be there for him and decided He would make His plan more obvious since I was not getting the hint (like ensuring I spent enough time with Zane since I did not have a job).
None of what I am sharing is meant to be prescriptive because I am not so pompous (anymore…I certainly more than pompous till around age 35) to think I actually know what I am supposed to do let alone tell others. I can only share what I have experienced and hope it finds resonance for anyone willing to read it. Ultimately, this blog ends up being more of an online journal for me that I am sharing with all of you. It started out being more focused on intellectual and business observations but I am now finding it much more enjoyable and relevant to write about the things that occupy my mind on most days and those are definitely not business related topics anymore. I told Lisa just the other day that I no longer want my (next)job to define me. At 45 years old, I want the balance of my life to be defined in the terms of my faith and my service to those I love.
Thanks for joining me on this journey…