Slowing Down – Part 1
Written by: Andy
When was the last time you asked a friend or coworker how it was going or how their day was and got an answer that didn’t include the words busy, crazy, hectic or chaotic. A good friend of mine often says that in our society we wear busyness like a badge of honor. The busier we are the more we think we are getting accomplished or the more successful we think we are, or worst of all, the more important we feel. This was me to a tee. I love having a bunch of different projects to work on. If I get bored with one project I can jump to a different one for a while. I have always felt most productive when I am juggling a lot of things and trying to hit a deadline even if they are self-imposed.
The day I was diagnosed with cancer my whole life came to a stop. When I was in the hospital during my surgery I obviously knew I wasn’t going to be working on anything but that didn’t stop me from taking my laptop just in case I felt up to designing something. The day we came home from the hospital, 6 days after surgery, I felt great. We went to lunch on the way home, stopped at Costco to buy some more pillows and I even went home and did some programming for a while. I felt like I was pretty much back, sure I wasn’t going to be doing any manual labor for a while, but I could still do a lot of the things I did before; then evening hit, and my body made sure I knew that I wasn’t back, not by a long shot. I had to take as many pain killers as I could just to get comfortable lying in bed, and I could hardly walk at all the next day. It became very clear that I was going to have to slow things way down for the next few weeks.
I felt like, even if I was taking it easy, there had to be a purpose to this time. I couldn’t fathom not doing anything for 6 weeks and then try and pick up life again exactly where I left off with the exact same goals and mindset. I knew I couldn’t just forget about the surgery, ignore the cancer and just try and hide my fears and constant anxiety about the future. I had a plan that I was going to have a great epiphany about life. I felt that this was going to be one of those incredible life changing events and I was instantly going to be a whole new person. So, to that end I decided to fill my time reading.
The first book I read was a terrific book, Love Does by Bob Goff. It is a fun and as Bob would probably say “whimsical” book that everyone should read. I then moved on to a more serious note and read Every Good Endeavor by Timothy Keller. Again, it was a great read and a book I will suggest to most people. I finished my time off on with Shawn Achor’s book The Happiness Advantage and Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar.
I have been back at work now for a week and I don’t think I ever had my expected epiphany, in fact I’m shocked at how natural it felt to just slide back into the swing of life. However, slowing down for the past few weeks has given me a lot of time to think about some of the more philosophical questions of life. I thought a lot about work, what are the things I wish I could change about myself at work and the way I view my work in general. As the future has become more uncertain and my health feels more unstable, the corporate ladder I’ve been trying to climb got shakier with it. I also thought a lot about legacy, what does it mean to leave a legacy, how do we do it and is it selfish to even expect to have a legacy? I also pondered happiness a lot, what does it mean to be happy and how do you find it in the midst of pain and tough times.
Next time, my thoughts on work…