Thursday, February 15, 2007

That's what I need to tell them

During yesterday's coaching (it had been rescheduled from Monday), Paul and I set out on a task to list some milestones, measures really for what it is I'm seeking.
  • To own a house in a "college town".
    • I mean "college town" to connote a small city with culture and an intellectual climate.
  • To take the pressure off the Rocket Scientist to be the provider.
    • She'd very much like the ability to work part-time, or take time off on occasion, like say 6 months to have a third child.
  • Satisfaction & Meaning in my work.
    • I described this, like I did here, as being able to hold a dinner party and excitedly discuss my work. That's a concrete measure for me.
  • Consistently good energy with my boys.
    • Perhaps this is unrealistic when we're talking about raising boys 2 & 4 (a bit of frustration is par for the course), but I wish to have a better hold on myself that the little things, no matter how annoying, are easier for me to let go of.
  • Financial and emotional means to travel and vacation without guilt, without worries.
  • A garden and a gourmet kitchen.
Paul then asked: Okay then, say 18 months down the road, you've got all these things. Are you done? Are you happy?

Yes! I think in some ways it really is that simple. No, I won't be finished. I won't stop living. I thought about one of the questions on the initial survey Paul gave me before our coaching began:

What accomplishments or measurable events must occur during your lifetime so that you will consider your life to have been satisfying and well-lived; a life of few or no regrets?

At the time, I responded in part:
What measurable events or accomplishments you ask. I'm not sure I wish to think about it in that way. Let's say they were: to be happily married, and have children, to obtain a PhD, to own a house, tend a garden, write some poetry, cook divinely... what good would having those tangible goals do me? I'm married, have children, a PhD, a garden, I cook well... we sold our house a couple years ago, but we could buy one again, when the time and market seem right. It might be easy enough to say I have all that I truly need, what more could I ask for? Or what if I said I wished to win a Nobel Prize or a Pulitzer. Either the goal would remain unobtained, or I'd be in crisis once it was earned. Those measurable events are not what it's about for me.

The process, that's important. Nearly every married couple is happy (for a time). The trick is to remain so. Being a parent is more than having children. It's a lifelong process, perhaps more than that, as I realize my father is still with me as I go on living. It's that process: To never cease learning. To never cease discovering new ideas, and ways to interact with people. To never cease caring about the welfare of the world. To never cease touching those around me. To never forget to laugh, and smile. To appreciate those around me, even for the smallest things.
But happiness, arrival. Paul chided me a bit for wanting an end-point. He suggested these milestones along the way could help to alleviate that longing.

In reality, I'm not looking for an end; I'm just seeking some waystations, to get off the bus and look around, breathe the air, smile at the breeze billowing the leaves on the trees, hike a mountain pass, smell a flower, then climb back aboard and head on.

We talked a bit about my upcoming meetings at [Industry conference] and my apprehensions, worrying about whether I'd be able to land a job in this field, and what sort of impression I might make on those I meet with. He said, look at that list of six things. That's what you need them to know: that you seek a job where you can own a home in a "college town," where you can take the pressure off Rocket to be provider, where you can be excited about your work, where you can be a good father, take guilt-free vacations, indulge in gourmet cooking with fresh produce from your garden.

I laughed. How could I tell a perfect stranger that? Of course... he's right. Those are the things that are important to me. I've got to get to the point where I can be fully myself, without apologies for my real, human objectives, and find a place where my colleagues, real and human themselves, can appreciate such humanity.

1 comment:

Lilian said...

I like this post A LOT... These kind of aims are things that we need to establish for our family, and for each of us... they will certainly help us so we'll know where we want to get to. Thanks again for sharing.