Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Importance of Being Unimportant


None of these matter.  The importance of measuring against anything arbitrary that has no relevance to my basic human needs are...well...unimportant.

How wealthy am I compared to the Joneses?  Irrelevant, since wealth, in and of itself, buys services and material things.  It doesn't buy me affection, though it can buy me the appearance of affection or love.  Wealth is but a tool, like a wrench is to a mechanic.  A wrench, in the hands of a mechanic can open or tighten bolts, and in the hands of a violent man, can kill.

How healthy am I compared to athletes or even John across the street?  Once again, irrelevant and unimportant if my level of health does nothing to make the people around me more secure and relieved.  After all, my health may elongate my life, or it may shorten it if I take it to the extreme.  What matters is whether my state of health helps me achieve my lifetime mission, while ensuring I don't become a burden to those I love...including the society at large.

How much fame do I have or need compared to the beautiful people on TV?  How much should I care if people think or even believe I'm important or relevant? It's unimportant, if my fame is a self-serving goal.  If my existence isn't benefiting my family and mankind by providing them with the love, stability, and care they need, then it's as important and useful as crack cocaine: momentarily satisfying, but the cause of a lifetime of addiction that can only lead to a downspin.

What's important then?  More clearly, what's important and relevant to me? What makes my infinitesimal existence worth anything?

Words of Gandhi come to mind:
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.                                                                                    
So, how can I serve others?  What skills can I bring to bear so that my life's no longer about me, but about the change for the better I bring to the world.  I'm reminded of another Gandhi quote:
You must be the change you wish to see in the world.             
Though I may know that I wish to serve others, I'm still uncertain how.  What change do I wish to see in the world that I must first bring about in myself?  I don't know the answers yet, but I know my journey continues and every step brings me closer to the path I wish to make.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Lifelong Plans? Who Needs 'Em!

What do you really want to do in life?

Sometimes the wrong questions lead to answers that seem, at a minimum, idealistic and, in some cases, completed unrealistic.  I’ve asked a similar question of everyone I interview, “What do you want to do when you grow up?”  As I’m gaining more experience and learning more about what’s important to me at different stages of my life, I realize the answer may often turn out to be, “it depends when you ask me and what’s my focus in life at that time.”

When I was starting out in my professional life, I thought I wanted to be a “Self-Made Man,” with plenty of financial wealth.  Once I spent a few years working, and after seeing the lives of some of the business owners for whom I worked directly or indirectly, I realized a few things.  First, there’s no such thing as a self-made man.  Everyone, no matter where they started from, no matter how rich or humble their beginnings, no matter how successful, has had much help from others.  They may have gotten a hand up or stepped over others to get to where they are today.  By no means is anyone Self-Made if the term is supposed to convey someone being successful purely and only due to their own efforts.

Second, many folks who focused purely on financial wealth, were bereft of much else that’s enjoyable in life.  They had poor family lives and/or friendships, or they were too cold in their relationships with everyone except those who could make them more wealthy. 

This latter result certainly didn’t appeal to me.  In fact, I realized I would never want to be so detached from those around me that I focused on nothing but work.  So,  I searched for positions that challenged me and gave me the fulfillment of knowing I’d done something larger than myself…a bigger project, larger budgets, solutions that touched more people.  This meant I was willing to take some big risks by taking on some equally big responsibilities.  I took a few big leaps in my profession then, each of which pushed me beyond my comfort zone.  In some, I was successful, but not so much in a couple of others.  I learned many valuable lessons from each. 

As I married, I realized I wanted my professional life to provide the greatest flexibility so that I may spend the greatest time possible with my family.  At first, this seemed to translate to holding a position with an immediately local company that provided me with upward growth in financial terms so that I could equally provide for my family, while insuring I traveled very little. 

When I was laid off in 2009, I was forced to consider contract work and, sure enough, travel.  I was resistant at first, but as I saw the benefits of working from home and managing my time to be on the road or at local client offices part of the time, I saw how I had more and higher quality time with my family. I opened up to the idea of travel and, in fact, landed a position with a company out of state.  This meant traveling 20 to 30% of the time, at first, and later at about 50% of the time. As I learned to better organize my time, I saw how even 50% travel could be managed to insure I still spent a substantial amount of time working from home and being around my family. 

In addition, these changes taught me that what options I may dismiss today, thinking they reduce my fulfillment, may not necessarily.  In other words, I have to be open to ideas or options I’d previously dismissed or not considered since they could pleasantly lead to better life plans.

What’s the point?

Simply that the question about personal or professional goals and fulfillment is not only personal, in the sense that it differs for each person and their circumstances, it’s also temporal.  So, asking questions about what you want to do with your life has no real meaning.  In fact, it’s the wrong question to ask.  At any point in your life, you should be able to instead ask and answer a different set of questions: what’s important to me now and how does that translate to what I want to do in my life today.  All else will fall into place, so long as you’ve already created your “why” in life.

Here’s the kicker: If I truly believe in this paradigm, I must also accept that even the paradigm may need to change as does my life!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Time Wrecking

Personal Family

IMG_20150307_174450It’s been about 10 days since our boy was admitted to the hospital. We’re now preparing for his third extubation.  The last time we tried, the pain that followed, his treacherous, belabored breathing, his inability to get enough Oxygen, lead to a return to the ventilator.  I wish no such agony on any child or an adult, and certainly don’t want to see it again for him. 

I’m pained as I await another night to see the results.  I’m excited since we believe we’ve done everything to insure his success, and struggling with the unknown of whether he’ll be able to breathe again on his own. 

All we have left is now time…time to wait until the start of the procedure…time to wait to see how well his body can acclimate…time…the damning, unending, heavy burden of time.

My fate I see ahead
On this road to kill.

What I kill
Is not any one thing living,
But time that is mind
Never wishes to still.

By murdering
This ever changing thing,
I aim to stop the crime of time
And all rules it governing.

The attempt, futile it seems,
But the unattainable I aim to gain,
Knowing that others’ luck
As mine isn’t.

With this audacity,
And calm volcanoes sincerity,
I make my way
In breaking and tearing at time.

On my road I celebrate
Each moment as I push forth
My time breaking blades
Of thoughts and emotions razor shaped.

Were I to die in my breaking,
To loose my soul to this unmaking,
I would not regret my reckoning
With man-made evil, time, ever-lasting.

Friday, February 27, 2015

You Are My Love

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are grey
You never know, dear, how much I love you
Please don’t take my sunshine away
It’s February 27, 2015. We’re on the third day of hospitalization for my 2.5 year old son, Matteo, and I keep hearing that song in my head. He’s recovering from vomiting that led to his aspiration. A good chunk of his vomit had filled his lungs, leading to pneumonia. Why would vomiting lead to hospitalization? He has Pompe, a rare disease with a fancy name that just means his body can’t break down glycogen, simple sugars, like you and I can. The sugars end up staying in his muscles and acting like cement. The disease affects all of his muscles, his arms, legs, heart and even diaphragm. He can’t cough as easily as you and I, which is why vomiting for him means hospitalization.

The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping
I dreamt I held you in my arms

He’s doing better now. Mom and Nanna were with him two nights in a row and I was with him last night. I’d spent the night in moments of rest and wakefulness. When I was awake, I’d created a spreadsheet, keeping track of all of his vitals. We were hopeful. Everything pointed to a recovery that could mean taking out the ventilator today. He’d be able to breathe on his own again and talk. We can hold him again and play.
The time came when his doctor came in and said we had the green light to remove his tube. Mom was back at the hospital by this time. We couldn’t wait.
When I awoke, dear, I was mistaken
So I hung my head, and I cried

The tube came out alright, but he couldn't breathe on his own. Everything I’d read, all that I’d heard, made me think he should've been able to, but no. It wasn’t to be. His face was ashen and needed oxygen. He wasn't strong enough. His diaphragm...just...wasn't...able! He had to be placed back on the ventilator. My mind was reeling. Mom was off to the side. From what I read on her face, she was thinking what I was, "what does this mean? Why aren't they moving fast enough? what are they waiting for? Does it mean we're here again for another month like his first big episode two years ago?" The nurses and doctors walked in. There must have been 10 people in that room, holding various tubes, lubricants, readying the ventilator and some providing oversight. They asked me if I preferred to wait outside. "No!" I couldn't leave. How could I? Many people get queasy or faint when they see their blood drawn. I look at the needle every time for the same reason I couldn't tear away from that moment: it was a part of me that was going through that pain. I had to see it, own it, and be in it nose deep. Sure, Matteo’s not my blood, but I wanted to own every moment of his pain, troubles, anguish and discomfort as my own so that I was motivated to find a way for him to someday again soon experience the happiness, laughter, and joy of playing outside with other kids and his sister. Someday! And I wanted that to be yesterday. Once it was done, he was passed out, probably because of the sedative he was given to ease the pain.

By the time the doctors and nurses left, I wasn't impressed with the staff's deft touch, nor with how organized they were. I was only focused on him and how fragile he was. I was focused on how I wanted my boy back; how much I wanted my sunshine again.
Please don’t take my sunshine away
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are grey
You never know, dear, how much I love you

It took all of us time, but we eventually realized we couldn’t rush his recovery. His body had to be ready. He had to be ready. It didn’t matter what I wanted and how much I wished to shorten his time in the hospital. It wasn’t up to me. I had to be patient.

The three days stretched to three and a half weeks, but Matteo eventually came off of the ventilator and recovered. The years that have followed have meant fewer visits to the hospital as he’s become stronger. The doctors are still searching for a cure for Pompe, and we’re hopeful, patiently waiting.

His numerous incidents in the first three years of his life, the many hospital stays and his fight every time, made me accept his pain as my own and stop being aggressive, stop pushing him and the doctors to a conclusion that I wanted in the timeframe that I wanted. I realized that whether it’s his trials, another family member’s or friend’s, or my own, progress and success requires patience. Looking at stats and numbers are not enough. The whole matters more than any one stat, thought or feeling.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are grey
You never know, dear, how much I love you
Please don’t take my sunshine away

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Time to Rethink

Random Thoughts

It’s been 20 months since my last post here. I knew it’d been a while, but not this long.  In any case, I’m back on and have learned to communicate in shorter bursts. 

Flicker_KaytHere’s a question: When do you know your stay at a friends house, with family or at work has become stale? When you’ve become comfortable and complacent, losing the appreciation for the hospitality or the opportunity!

A friend once told me the best way to get out of this situation is to deliver a proverbial slap in the face.  This is quite harsh, but the intent is clear and the act is, arguably, necessary. Indeed, the intent is to wake up a person and make him realize he needs to make a change.

But how do you accomplish this without use of brutish or menacing words?

The answer to delivering a wake up call that affects change, but avoids unnecessary pain may take a while.  So, hang tight as I work on that answer over the coming weeks.

Flicker_SergeSaintIn the process, I also plan on sharing with you and working through an idea that has kept me pre-occupied for the past month.  It has to do with what all of have less of toward all big companies and business-people…trust!