I’m not a big fisherman. This is kind of ironic since I work for a company that supports one of world’s largest fish line manufacturers. When people ask if I fish, I tell them “I’m not into fishing as much as I’m into catching!”
However, I do fish enough to know how frustrating it can be to have several lines in the water and to have them cross each other. If I don’t notice it early, my lines can end up in a tangled mess. When this happens, my reaction is usually to panic and most times I end-up just cutting my lines and starting all over.
Like when I am fishing, my schedule can get so busy on certain days that my “life-lines” start crossing each other, resulting in my good intentions becoming a tangled mess. It can be difficult choosing what to focus on, with so much stuff vying for my attention.
Sometimes the apparent urgency of an issue can masquerade as importance when compared to my actual priorities. I have found myself wondering how certain things even made it onto my to-do list in the first place. I mean isn’t sorting through junk mail a paradox? I would be better served to pitch all of it and save myself the useless effort.
I have decided to simplify my life and I am challenging the part of me that wants or even thinks to try to “do it all.” I am actively working a plan that reels in my tendency to over commit. As a result, I am getting more of my life back and I have more white spaces in my calendar too.
Now I am finding that I have a lot more time to reflect and to write. Also, I am reading out loud to my kids most nights and I have a greater focus on fitness. I am laughing more, I have renewed passion in my career and most importantly I love hanging out with my family and friends without any big expectations or agendas. Surprisingly, there have been a few instances in which I have found myself losing track of time…a minor miracle in itself.
It’s clear to me now, if I am going to say YES to the life-giving moments, then I necessarily must say no to many other things along the way. I’m OK with potentially disappointing others in order to avoid disappointing myself or those who are closest to me.
Helping me to gain and keep this new focus is the habit of having my mortality more top of mind. Not for the purpose of being scared or dismayed but to the contrary, to keep me focused on the things that I value the most. This awareness helps me to spend my finite allotment of “life currency” more prudently. Throughout the day, I frequently pause to reflect and challenge myself to choose wisely….to choose as if today is going to be one of my last days on Earth.
Some days, I can feel cynical when I look around me. On certain days, the pace of life seems opposed to anyone seeking something more meaningful than the pursuit of material things. It is not an easy path to go deep. Reaching beyond the material in search of things that are more substantive and life affirming is definitely a road less traveled. In the end, I know that my wife and kids are not looking for me to be a huge success in business, or a scratch golfer, or a fitness buff, or a leader in my community. In truth, it’s only me who wants those things. I find that what they are seeking most from me is my time and my life’s energy. They love it when I am balanced and focused on the things that matter most.
So I endeavor daily to re-balance and refocus. I stay as awake and alive as possible in hope that my life will have had real meaning when my time here is complete and death comes for me.
Thomas “TD” Dierker
Live like you’re dying….cause you are!