After finishing School and getting a job we move forward with our lives and careers building our projects (read acquiring things we aim or doing experiences that thrill us). Slowly we start giving away something in return, but at that time we don’t notice it as we’re so focused in our path and want to claim our space, seek recognition and affirmation both at personal and professional level that we see that giving away as natural.
The basic principle is somehow evident and therefore we don’t struggle about it. If you want a salary you need to work, if you want a bigger house you need to work harder, if you want to pay yourself nice holidays on a distant location you need to save (or go for a credit) and the list goes on, on a dependency that seems natural and the way to go as it became democratized.
Give something to get something. But more, means more worry, more fear, more anxiety, more trouble. More risks, more need to protect it.
While I was living in Portugal I lived a rather common life. Ups and downs. But, very often, running after money to pay bills or improve my quality of life (meaning, things) to keep the pace with the “standards”. When challenges showed up and I wasn’t attentive enough to take action in due time, I started losing the grip. Lost my business and with financial issues I start shooting in all directions, blaming “they” and putting at risk the other pillars of my life (partner, family and friends).
Long story short, I came to Netherlands in 2007. Can’t express enough gratitude for the 10 years I’ve been around. Thou, there are things I had to give away. I’ve been away from my family and friends (with modern technologies we can short distances, but it’s not the same). I lost the 1st communion of my daughter as she was still in Portugal. I missed the high school graduation of my kid as I was on business travelling that couldn’t be cancelled. My father passed away and I wasn’t there to say goodbye. My mother is alone and I wish I were there, but I can’t as my life now is here in NL.
Yes I regained comfort, stability, career, security, joy of life, peace and balance in my personal and family life. But the things I lost or I’m losing I can’t get them back or have them replaced, not with the most expensive toy or reward.
That’s the point of this dissertation. What are you sacrificing in this very moment? Is it worth? Do you expect one day you’ll make it up? That day never comes. Life doesn’t happen according to your calendar. Stop for a bit, look around you. The speed of our days and lives is very high and often we don’t have time to realize the dearest things we’re missing. We have all the good reasons to be where we are and doing what we do, we have responsibilities, our own families, our own worries and issues. But again, is it really worth?
Be bold and provocative towards yourself. Don’t judge or rush to find explanations as you start realizing what you’re leaving behind. Just see them pass right in front of your eyes. Without analyzing or reasoning what lead you here, ask yourself if it’s really worth. Life happens, doesn’t wait for “right moments”. You fool yourself with ideas like I’ll be fully dedicated to this project and then I grab my life back where I left it. Spending time with kids, family, doing sports, going to a movie, those simple things in life I’ll do them later. Guess what, that time never comes.
I’ve seen quite a few things, people and experiences along this 49 years, living in 2 or 3 different places.
I’ve seen people dedicating themselves to companies and being fired. Besides the emptiness, doubt on self-worth and feeling of treason their left with, they realized all sacrifices were almost in vain.
I’ve seen people dedicating themselves to major projects like buying or building dream houses. Years later, for whatever reason the houses were sold to complete strangers.
I’ve seen people moving careers ski high, being important corporate members and images of success. Some of them went on burnout, some suicide, others lost their families that couldn’t cope to live with an absent husband/father or a stranger that was only there physically.
I had my own business that needed all my time and resources. My family should understand how demanding that was and support me. On other hand I was too busy and blind to support them. Later. Later when I’m done with this, later when I’m successful with that. Later never comes. Dam it.
Not sure if this related to the aging process where we tend to gain awareness of all the noise and useless struggle we go through during our lives by building careers to be “someone” and realizing we lost the sights of that journey as we have been so focused on end goals as all that it mattered. At this stage we become aware we’re just an easily replaceable asset and all we have been doing was building castles in the sand.
We start hopping off that fast train to take a slower one. One that gives us time to notice the landscape, the people, the joy of the presence. We start being more present and grab our thoughts that used to always be ahead of us, in the future.
By living in the present we notice what we left behind. Surely we can’t get it back, but we can make conscious choices on what we want now and how we want to live in the present with what we have. Not in the future with what we want to have. Life becomes what we do and experience and not what can we get or buy. One have to make choices in life, and often we can’t have it all, we must give away something. The key here is to deeply think if what we’re trading is worth what we’re leaving behind or if there’s a way we can mitigate the loss.
When the loss is related to people, any sacrifice will always hunt you down and you’ll ask yourself: was it really worth? To avoid that question to pop up one day, ask the question today. Your life is your choices, no one chooses for you and if circumstances throw you here or there, you always have a choice on how to deal with it and live with it.