I am known to say I love business but I hate work but as you can’t have one without the other, the question is when do I get to switch off; when do you get to switch off? And how?
I thought it appropriate to mark this Bank Holiday weekend by posing the question to myself as well as to you to see where it might lead us.
I love, love, love walking by water – that’s my thing and I try to do it every weekend – there is something so soothing about watching water for me that it re-energizes me no end.
When we were kids growing up in Coolock on Dublin’s northside, I remember my mother and a neighbour taking a bunch of us to the beach at Sutton by train and I can still smell the hot creosote or tar from the railway sleepers or electricity poles as we walked beside the tracks from Howth station back to the beach.
Then there was Wexford. My childhood summers were spent in Blackwater and beach living was the norm – my memory tells me we packed up last day of school and left only to return, brown, happy and healthy on the last day before school started again in September – we were blessed. We first stayed there when I was six months old and graduated over the intervening decades from farm-guesthouse to a caravan on the land belonging to it, to a mobile home in the same spot, to a site my parents bought closer to the village, to a bungalow on said site which remains to this day.
The beach we picnic’d, played and swam on was the same beach used in the terrific opening scenes of the Tom Hanks / Matt Damon movie, Saving Private Ryan.
Kissed my first girl there too!
They were simple, happy, zero-responsibility days.
Then of course life takes over and if we are not careful, life can knock the fun out of , eh, well…life.
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So reclaiming a work/life balance has become important to me and as I said at the start I love business and I hate work, but as you can’t have one without the other, I must work (for now) but I work always at creating business, not creating a job for myself for life – it’s the harder work, the slower work, but for me the most rewarding work.
There’s no use pining for those halcyon zero-responsibility days – they are gone forever, but that does not mean you or I have to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders – God forbid you or I get knocked down by the proverbial bus tomorrow, the great world will keep on turning, taking annual trips around the sun (love that phrase) and we will be consigned very quickly to an urn or a hole in the ground and to memory.
So. What’s it all about? What’s the meaning of life?
I believe it’s about contribution; it’s about is the world a little better or a little worse because you and I were here. It can’t be the same; it must be different, the only question is how. and much and all as we might wish for less stress or pressure in our lives, the reality is being adult and being alive necessitates we carry our fair share – but only our fair share.
I met a school principal recently who has decided finally to retire. I asked why the apparent sudden decision and her answer intrigued me; she said, “I saw a friend not last past her first Christmas as a retiree. Then I had a health scare myself and so I have finally decided to climb down off the cross!” Interesting analogy.
She admitted finally (to herself mainly) that she was not indispensable and that maybe, while there was still time, she should climb down from the cross of self-sacrifice, let go of the reigns and allow someone else take up where she left off; her job is done, she has carried her fair share and the world is better for it.
I’m not proposing by the way that we all jack it in on Tuesday – but perhaps we should start thinking of our exit strategies? When will we have done enough? When is enough, enough?
For now, let’s simply take this weekend, this Bank Holiday weekend and step back, catch our collective breath and Allow Our Souls Catch Up With Our Bodies*
Have a good one.
*Phrase gleaned from Aboriginal culture. In Australian Aboriginal society, Walkabout is a rite of passage during which males undergo a journey during adolescence, typically ages 10 to 16, and live in the wilderness for a period as long as six months to make the spiritual and traditional transition into manhood.
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MORE. Did you enjoy that? Fancy a sniff at some of my other “Coffee with Colm” Blog posts:
- Last week’s “Coffee with Colm” – ‘Ireland, An Island At The Centre Of The World’ – Click here.
- What’s life all about? – Of Patchwork Quilts and Fur-lined Mousetraps – Click here.
- How break free from the gravity of bad habits – Click here.
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