Sunday, August 7, 2016

Chasing a piece or a peace

It’s hard to believe that for the last 40+ years I’ve been working in the high tech industry (hold the age jokes….I’ve heard them all).   Partially because it’s hard to believe there was a high tech industry 45+ years ago.   The computers back then were nothing like what we use today, in fact the laptop I’m typing on is more powerful than the multi-million dollar, room wide systems that I first worked on.    It’s also hard to believe I worked 50+ hour weeks for that long.  If someone had said to me at 21, “Look son, welcome to the high tech industry.  You will spend the next 40+ years working long hours and in the process have to not only do your job but relearn everything you know about your industry every 4-5 years.” I think I would have chosen to scoop ice cream or be a forest ranger.  Frequently not knowing what’s ahead is a blessing.

 The other issue with not knowing what is ahead is that we have a tendency to assume there will be plenty of time for all those “other” things beside work……family, dreams, travel.     A very wise man once asked “What do you want on your gravestone once you are gone?   Right now you are behaving like you want it to say He was a great workaholic.”    Intellectually I understood it at the time but when you are chasing getting your “piece of the pie” it’s hard to internalize the unpredictability of life.   There’s nothing like a serious illness to take a 2x4 to your sense of invincibility and reset your life priorities.

Here’s the thing (I’m going to get philosophical so feel free to stop reading here, I won’t be offended)…when you are faced with your own mortality how will you react?   Will you panic and try to scramble to make up for lost time?  Will you wallow in self-pity and woe is me?   Will you become self-centered and demanding of the people around you?   Or angry, obstinate and crotchety?   With all the time I’ve spent in hospitals over the last 5+ months I’ve seen them all.    But I’ve also seen the best of people.    Patients who have chosen to ignore their illness and reach out to help others.  Nurses who have survived cancer and are now giving back with a sensitivity that only comes from having walked in their patient’s shoes.   Best of all, terminally ill people who have faced their disease with such grace that to be in their presence make you believe you can be a better person.     One great example is a person I know who is in the final stages of his fight.  He blogs about his journey and his last blog brought me to tears with his insights and grace.    You can read it here:

It’s easier for me to talk about this given I’ve had my life stopping 2x4 up the side of my head.   I’d like to believe that we don’t have to face a life changing illness or event to find a way to provide balance in our lives but I’m more realistic than that.    But for me, I’m trading the goals of getting ahead and getting more, for a greater recognition of what I already have and enjoying the hell out of it.  There is a tremendous peace to accepting the way things are and striving to find peace in how I deal with it and what I do.   Finding that peace has become my new goal.

I’ve realized however, that just because I can come to grips with my circumstances doesn’t mean my family and friends can.   I worry more about them worrying about me than I do worrying about myself  (if that makes any sense).  I can only hope that my acceptance and peace lightens their worries and my circumstances in some small way helps them recognize the value of seeking balance and peace in their own lives.

Image result for great tombstones quotes
As for my tombstone, I don’t particularly want one but assuming others feel the need, something like the following will do just fine:

 He had fun and didn’t piss off too many people




Michael Muhlfelder said...

Truly inspirational- your post and the linked blog from your friend. There is no way for anyone to imagine being in your ( running ) shoes. Thinking of you often and hoping for the best

Doreen Bentley said...

You have left an indelible mark on our lives. Our children are richer and associate their best lifelong memories with you, Pam and your kids and Bob and I are our happiest when we are with you and Pam. Over the years you and your beautiful sidekick have shared your holidays, vacations, joys and deepest sorrows with us and we are truly joined at the hip through our hearts, our love and through the grace of God. We are with you every step of the way and surround you and Pam and your kids with our hugs, love and prayers. We know no one stronger, tougher, more determined than you. Keep on keeping on wonderful Dave!!!😘

Aline Kaplan said...

Every morning when I meditate I repeat that I am fit and strong and healthy. It gives me a positive message about how I want to feel. I don't know if it works but things are going well so far. I offer it as a mantra for where you want to go and where I think you will eventually be again.

Inez Uerz said...

Beautiful blog-inside-the-blog, Dave. 'Focus on the good', wow, that's beautiful and strong. I'm happy to see you're focussing on the peace now. :) Strength and love to you from both of us, Stephen and Inez

Eric Naiburg said...


Thank you for helping me to understand the importance of family and giving me the opportunity to do so at the same time. You always supported me catching a soccer game or track meet. Enabling me to keep that balance and explaining to me how important it is. Keep up the good fight, we are all pulling for you.