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What’s important in your life changes. It will flip flop often. You will seek spirituality and self-existence and then something happens and you need more money. You will focus on your education and career and then someone you know leaves this planet too early and you re-evaluate your priorities. We get caught up in our daily lives, because we have to and then in a glimpse, we have a moment of clarity. It might be in a grocery line, taking your kid to school or driving to work. You take note, remind yourself you need to get out more, get outside, but then you quickly snap back into what you were doing. The good thing is that nag, never really goes away. It gets built on, thought about and organized. Your hope is that you will someday pull that trigger and do what you want to do, before it’s too late.
I ask questions. Lots of them. All the time. It drives my wife crazy. Several times she’ll be watching a movie and I’ll walk in and ask her about the characters, the premise and the current scene. She invites me to sit down and watch, but I insist she just tells me. I lack the patience to sit through movies, but can get enough satisfaction from her explanation. I fill the rest of the pieces in and make my own assumption as if I would have liked that movie or not. Either way, I got the information I needed. Sometimes its just faster to ask.
Throughout my whole career and personal life, I’ve sought out experts. Some people believe you have to experience everything yourself to really learn something, but I believe in learning the right things. I want to know the stuff that matters. Recently, I spoke to my father about retirement. He’s 72. It was a random question, mixed in with pleasantries, on a morning call as I headed in to work. “If you had one piece of advice to give me about retirement, what would it be?” He responded, “Well I’m probably the last person you want to ask about retirement, but it’s easy to focus on the wrong things as you age, I’d say travel when you’re young. When you get older, the mind is still sharp, but your priorities change, your body starts breaking down and you realize you have too much stuff.”
Stuff. I think about stuff a lot. The stuff at home, the stuff at work. The stuff in my head. Stuff is everywhere and it takes up a lot of my time. Stuff takes maintenance. It’s easy to focus on the wrong stuff. Stuff is expensive. Replacing stuff with even more stuff, is more expensive. As I am constantly reminding myself to get outside, it’s immediately followed by stuff I need to do, to give myself permission to get outside. Stuff also comes at me from others. People want me to do and be involved in their stuff, because they don’t like their stuff either and don’t want to handle their own stuff alone. Getting away from stuff is hard, because stuff is how we identify ourselves. I do this. I am this. I know this. We gather stuff to prop up our identities to give us more credibility. Damn marketing. Stuff can be overwhelming.
We will always have stuff. Sometimes less and sometimes more. The challenge is to manage your stuff. I have found that when I travel, two things happen. Arriving at my destination, I realize I brought too much stuff. Coming home I realize I have too much stuff. Traveling does that to you. Thanks Dad, I’m listening.