Monday, March 01, 2010
All men should strive
to learn before they die
what they are running from, and to, and why.
The end of January I met up with a friend I hadn't seen in a long while. We used to work together. In fact, she used to work for me. It has been more than 10 years ago since we worked together, but we can both remember the first day we met like it just happened.
She worked in the plant on the assembly line. She looked like a hippy - long, straight hair parted in the middle; She wore bell bottoms and a jean jacket. We smiled at each other but hadn't talked much. I managed a group of folks in the office that carried out customer service and scheduled production and shipping. I sometimes passed by her station on the way to check on the numbers for the day.
At one point, she was on light duty because of a repetitive motion injury. The plant manager was irritated by that and asked me if I could use her in the office.
She had a quiet, monotone voice. She had no office experience. My boss said "No." But I told him I had already said we could use her - we were short handed. He told me I would have to look after her and it would probably be more trouble than it was worth.
But then, from the first day, she was amazing. She was so motivated to learn. She picked right up with juggling the schedules and the truckers. I never let the plant manager have her back :) She said no one else ever would have given her the chance I did. She called me her mentor for a lot of years.
Ten years ago, we both moved onto different places. She's managing contracts for a University now. I'm a systems consultant and project manager.
We see each other at least once a year. Over these 10 years, a lot of life has happened - our kids have grown up ....
Her husband died of cancer. I remember at his funeral how many people were there talking about all the charity work he had done. They had dedicated a lot of time together to children's hospital - I really had no idea. It was quite an awe inspiring list. It inspired me go back to church that year and to volunteer teaching.
We saw each other the end of January and it was great to catch up. I asked how it was going, what she was doing. And, in less than 5 minutes she could tell me all the things that were important to her and what she was doing. I don't think I could have succinctly summed up my day in the 5 minutes she could give me the run down on her life.
She was selling her house and getting something smaller. Her RA is acting up; She doesn't want to shovel snow; and she likes to be out riding her motorcycle and playing with her grand-daughter. No sense having the big house anymore, she'd rather move closer to her daughter and granddaughter.
Her boss is recommending she consider applying for a promotion. She isn't going to do it. The extra work and longer hours at the next level isn't worth the money and the stress right now.
She put her son out of the house, even though it broke her heart to do it, because she had come to the realization that nothing short of tough love was going to make him quit using and stand on his own two feet.
She has a new love - not quite ready for marriage, but maybe by next year. He likes to ride with her on the cancer runs. They have three planned for this year.
I was amazed at her focus. Each thing she was doing, each action she took, built on the one before it. Each decision was based on whether it helped her reach her goal, not whether it made someone else happy, there was no wavering.
I've been thinking about that for a month now .... interesting, it made quite an impact. Life isn't perfect, it doesn't have to be. She is happy, she is living in the present. She knows where she wants to be at the end of it all, and each step she takes is getting her a bit closer.
She is everything I'd like to be. It was a Weekend Challenge just recently on the JDI Team to tell someone how wonderful they were. So I did.
I asked her how she get so smart, so focused, so happy. She just laughed. She said Just focus, just be happy. It's a verb, not an adjective.
I read something recently about how we find our "tribe." That circle of friends that inspire us, lift us up and support us. How they may be someone we need every day, or only a few times ever.
She is my mentor, she's inspiring me.
I am considering life goals - not just weight loss or health or work.
I want to be able to say - in 25 words or less - what the point of my life is.
Should that be possible? I'd like to think that it's not too late to do that at 47.
Mark Twain says "I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is that I can't find anybody who can tell me what they want."
Until recently, that didn't make a lot of sense to me. Maybe I'm not alone.