I think we have all been struggling, and I know a thing or two about struggle. Before my Ravitch surgery, I struggled a lot. Although I was often able to satisfy the minimum requisites to stay afloat in life, I often missed the quality of it all. Along with the rest of society, I shifted to a surface-level survivor with a knack for re-activeness. I was a duck on lake; gliding along the surface, but paddling for my life just beneath the water.
I have to believe we were put here for more than that.
Yet, we are masters of enduring and putting on a happy face, regardless of how we are feeling. In the depths of my pain, I kept gliding across the lake. I continued to work, pay bills, and maintain parts of ‘normalcy’ because I thought I had to. Although most people could not tell, I was the walking equivalent of a dumpster fire for months following my surgery. I was dead set of bouncing back, but I just could not seem to do it. This was partially because my physical ecosystem had been so disrupted, but also because my emotional and existential one had too.
Why was I so determined to return to life as a workaholic? Why was I designating the finish line of my recovery as the return to a life that left me wanting? Why was I over-glorifying busy-ness?
Ask anyone how they are and they will likely respond with, “good…busy.” What a funny default for a society that has spent years perfecting technology to make life easier and more efficient. Are we still that busy or are we using busy as a symbol of status and success? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
Consider the idea that our time is actually more finite than money. Shouldn’t that make it more valuable and, perhaps, a better sign of success? How would you feel if you asked someone how they are and they answered with, “good, I have really been enjoying the extra time I’ve have to relax, read, and spend quality time in my relationships?” More than likely, you would be surprised at the abnormal response, and then you would probably long for that in your life. In the years since my surgery, I have talked to a lot of people about life and time. The overwhelming majority of people wish they had more time.
An amazing thing happened as I recovered from my surgery; I ended up recovering from the more dangerous problem of working my life away.
Although prompted by the Ravitch surgery gone wrong, my transformation happened gradually. First came the willingness to consider both my problems and my desires, and then came the hunt for solutions. It was during the struggle to find solutions that I really began to evolve when creating my own. Knowing what I wanted, what I needed, and what my barriers were, I started exploring which path would get me there. One of the many lessons I have learned in life is that anything is possible; it’s just a matter of how you will accomplish it.
Take a moment to consider your life, post-pandemic. Is there a disconnect between the life you want and the life you see in front of you?
As cliché as it sounds, we are standing at the brink of a new normal. We are re-writing rules and re-routing roads. There is no better time than now to upset the apple cart because status quo does not exist right now. This is the time for organizations to step up and individuals to step out of their comfort zones. We can stop wishing for more time as we all have the opportunity right now to reevaluate and adjust the way we are spending it.
What does this new path forward look like? Is it tactical changes like remote or hybrid work environments? Or is it more conceptual in how you value your time?
One of the best things I read post-surgery was the quote from Annie Dillard, “How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour and that one is what we are doing.”
So I ask you this, what will you do post-pandemic? How do you plan to live?