Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Life - Decision Time

In an earlier post (about Carpe Diem or seizing the moment) I alluded to my desire to make some changes in my life. I had a few concerned friends contact me to make sure the changes weren't going to be too drastic.

I appreciated all the thought they put into their words, and I'm glad to say that, no, the changes weren't too drastic, and no, I wasn't going to try and get everything on a bucket list (I don't have one) done by the end of the year (or something like that).

I say that because of a couple comments. One said something interesting - that dedicating my life to pursuing goals would make me miss out on the trip. It had to do with a "smell the roses" kind of thought, or missing the forest for the trees. If I lived so intensely in order to fulfill some concrete dreams (like going skydiving, which I have no desire to do), I'll miss out on the day to day stuff that make up our lives.

Another friend told me that checking things off is great, but if you do so while missing out on bonding with your child... it's not that great. Focusing on the tasks can help make you overlook the most important part of raising a child - bonding with said child. It means doing simple things, like holding them when you want to, or letting them sleep in your arms.

(That's been the extent of my experience so far. We'll see how things go when Junior starts to crawl, walk, talk, etc.)

In that post I wrote about some of the things that came to mind when I thought about my life - Order, Risk, Unconventional Career, Knowing When to Say When, Help Others. A lot of those changes have been simmering for a while, like years. Others not so much, like months. I made some shallow incursions into a couple life changing things, starting a few years ago, but for whatever reason (mainly me) nothing stuck.

That was all good. Things happen when it's time to happen. I can egg them along but forcing the issue just forces the issue. If it takes too much effort to change direction it's probably not a great move. It's like in a bike race - when you take a wheel so smoothly that the other racer doesn't even realize it until it's done, it's good. If you body check that rider to take the wheel, "forcing the issue" if you will, it's not as good.

Junior's birth and Markus's death have put an edge of clarity to the thoughts I'd been mulling over for the past year or three. With this outside push the time to act rapidly approached. Mid-March the pendulum had tipped all the way over.

At that point I felt the overwhelming need to act now. I mean, okay, not that exact second, but in this year, these couple months, maybe within weeks. You know how there are those incidents that help define your life? It could be a day or a month or even a year but they happen.

I had such a month a long, long time ago, at least for me (December 1990 to January 1991). I spent four unpaid weeks traveling, driving around the country, during the Desert Shield/Storm era. I never blogged about it although it wasn't for a lack of trying. I started to write about the trip and stopped after about five pages of furious typing - and I hadn't gotten halfway across the country yet. It's either a short story or a mini-series on the blog. Whatever, the point is that the trip, and the month it took me, truly affected me, before, during, and after. It helped define what I held dear and what I wanted from life.

I had another month like that recently - March 2012.

Junior came into the world March 10th. Markus died March 19th. Between those two monumental changes, mixed in with the general stress of promoting the Bethel Spring Series, I ended up living in a sleep deprived and highly stressed state where I had no free energy. All I could do was The Stuff That Had To Get Done.

Nothing else.

At the time a friend asked me about training during Bethel, how to arrange to arrive at Sunday with fresher legs but still get in a decent amount of training. I laughed when I read his email because training was, in March 2012, not part of Stuff That Had To Get Done. I was lucky to ride once a week, and on the Easter off week I didn't ride at all.

In this sleep deprived state, stressing about the race (which is kind of normal but I forget how it is until it happens), the crash... the world narrowed down to what counted. It had to - I had no other time.

I knew about the Stuff That Had To Get Done.

I also started this unofficial list in my head of Stuff I Want To Work On.

I looked at what I did, what I didn't do, what I wanted to do, and what I didn't want to do. I thought about  the people with whom I like to interact, from family to just "people I know" or, more specifically, "people I helped at work".

A big help has been my previous life (as I like to put it) in the IT world, and having lived for so long in another town. Moving here significantly reduced our expenses, allowing us to build up our savings. We made a significant (now) decision - we didn't blow all that dough.

This means that, for now, I can afford not to work.

With us wondering about the cost of child care, wanting to be with Junior ourselves, and wanting to be involved with his so significant first year or two of life, the fact that I didn't have to work meant that I could quit my job.

So I did.

I tendered my resignation two weeks ago with an effective last day of Saturday May 12th.

After that I'll be a stay at home dad.

I told a few customers about my decision in the last few days. I told a few friends (very few). I just, and I mean just, told my family. All have been universally supportive, in all sorts of ways.

I'll focus on the Stuff That Had To Get Done. I have to because that stuff will always be around. The biggest was family, things like taking care of Junior, making sure that I didn't lose touch with the Missus, and keeping in the loop with my siblings and in-laws. There's also the stuff where I owe people for something, whether it be promoting the Bethel Spring Series and all the promises that go along with that, or helping out in an emergency situation.

More importantly I'll have some time to work on the Stuff I Want To Work On, the stuff that I really, truly wanted to do during the stressful times but couldn't do because of the Stuff That Had To Get Done.

Like I kept quiet about Junior I will be a bit discrete with the Stuff I Want To Work On. I don't want to talk about something before it's basically a done deal, but suffice it to say that it has to do with the 15 year project I described in the prior post about seizing the day.

After that there's a bunch of related things, but that's far enough down the road that I'm going to let them percolate. I've made one solid commitment for this year, am pursuing another few, and then have the framework for other things in mind for 2013.

It won't be easy, I know that. My Wednesdays with Junior exhaust me. I know it's possible to be a dad and get things done because other people do it fine. I just need to find my rhythm on those other days, learn all those little things that parents learn as they go through their real world parenting class.

I hope I can make it work. I think I can, but until I do it, I won't know. It's just like bike racing - in the very end you have to do it to learn it. So I'm toeing the line in this new race for me, not knowing what will happen. I'll learn to deal with the challenges as I encounter them, and I'll try not to make the same mistake twice.

It's called life, right?

Well it's time to live a little.

Carpe Diem.


Jancouver said...

Congrats! Its worth it to spend time with your kids and family ... I feel super lucky because I have three kids.


Matthew said...

Good luck! It sounds like you know what you're doing.

Aki said...

J, M - thanks. I should point out that I don't know what I'm getting into, but I think that I'll be okay when I get into it. For a risk averse person it's a contradiction to do what I'm doing, but for whatever reason/s I'm not afraid of trying it.