Like many of you, my wife and I are the parents of young children. We wouldn’t trade these days for anything in the world, but it’s not an exaggeration to say that it’s 24/7. We’re also self employed, and as our business and responsibilities grow, we’re feeling the pressures that come with filling every role from receptionist to CEO – while also raising a family, maintaining our marriage and serving our community. I imagine many of you feel a similar pressure, so I thought I’d share this story.
The other night, after a string of tough days, we fell into bed, both of us almost asleep before our heads hit the pillows. But in the stillness, as I tried to quiet my mind, all I could think about was how hard Jennifer’s day must have been with all she had on her plate. I realized I’d spent my whole day taking great care of my to do list, but not taking great care of her.
Last week, we flew to California to spend some time with our family. Jalen and Emmy were super excited to see their Grammy and Papa, but not as excited as Jennifer and me. Where there are grandparents, there are date nights and naps! Smiles all around! Unfortunately, we got caught up in the moment wrangling two kids and all our stuff. We were all the way home before Jennifer noticed a bag was missing. She called the airline and sure enough, we’d left it at the airport. So the next morning, I drove back to get it.
My friend, Robert D Smith, is one of the most free living, out of the box thinking, mold breakers I know! Every time I’m with him, I leave inspired and challenged. He has a truly unique perspective and is among the happiest, most upbeat people I know. Best of all, it’s real. What you see is what you get.
Over the course of our friendship, I’ve come to realize that Robert lives differently than the rest of us because he thinks differently the rest of us. For instance, I recently asked him what he would say to my friend who has a very common problem. She struggles to stay optimistic and hopeful in a job where she’s miserable and unfulfilled. It seems to her that she’s wasting her life away.
When I was a kid, one of my absolute favorite stories was “The Monster At The End Of This Book”. You know the one… Grover from Sesame Street begs you not to turn the page because there’s a monster at the end. He ties the pages together, boards them up with a hammer and nails, builds a brick wall – anything and everything to stop you from turning the page. Of course you do, and when you do, Grover loses his mind.
I loved turning the page.
To be honest, I still do. I make as much noise as I can turning the page of a book – or a pad of paper – or a calendar. I love the cracking sound. It sounds like progress to me. It feels like I’ve accomplished something, and my reward is that now I get to see what happens next.
As a writer, I can’t help but see our lives as stories we’re writing and telling as we go. We wake up to a blank page and fill it throughout the day with our thoughts and actions. And as I look back on the chapter that’s closing – and forward to the unwritten page before me, I can’t shake the question, “What kind of story am I writing?”. Is this life of mine a love story – a how to book – a mystery – a tragedy – a comedy?