“It’s what you do when you don’t have to do anything at all that makes you who your are when it’s too late to do anything about it.”
I picked up that quote at a one day seminar more than 30 years ago, I think. The speaker flashed it up on a PowerPoint slide while he read it rather quickly, so I’m not sure it is exactly what he said, but it captures the flavor. I thought of that on my walk this morning.
It was a beautiful Colorado day for a walk—the sky was clear blue, except near the horizon where it appeared somewhat hazy. It was not a brown haze, so mostly moisture I presume. The outline of the mountains was visible to the west, less so to the northwest—because of the wild fires in that direction?—but it was not crisp even where visible. The temperature was in the low 70’s with a steady breeze.
I guess I thought of the quote above because I am struggling with what to do next, before it’s too late, since in some sense I really don’t have to do anything at all right now. For most of my life I have always had informal commitments and other interests that I could turn to when I got caught up on the deliverables for my job, the chores at home, and social obligations. And the truth is, I still do. Still too many, maybe. What has really changed is that the motivation for these things is now primarily internal whereas before much of what I did was externally driven. So now I have to arbitrarily set priorities, schedule execution, and make sure that I follow through. Don’t get me wrong; I am not complaining. I often dreamt of this day back when I was hustling to meet the expectations of bosses, clients, students, relatives, friends and others. And until it arrived, I had no inkling of what a steep learning curve it would involve. I wonder how much of my struggle is due to the years and years I spent trying to absorb the “authorized truth”. The imagination and creativity I presume (I wish I could say “I remember” but that would be a stretch) that I, like most human beings, was born with seems to be buried beneath layers and layers of education–memorized knowledge and/or beliefs. Again I am most grateful for that education. And to address the challenges we face in our world today, I wish I could elicit more imagination and creativity, my own and others’. That is what I really want to do–learn to address problems and opportunities with new thinking–before it’s too late…