Eject, eject, eject! That line come from the movie, Flight of the Intruder. The Navy pilot is giving a ride to a corpsman and goes over the procedure for an in-flight emergency. He tells the doc, the command for eject will be, eject, eject, eject! The doc asks, "Do I say Roger or something?" The pilot replies, if you even say "Huh" you're going to be talking to yourself.
Sometimes you have to know when to bail out before you crash and do permanent damage. At this season in my life, I have reached that point. Don't worry, I'm not going to run off to join the circus, or move to Scotland to distill my own brand of whiskey, I'm just readjusting my priorities.
As a younger man, my life was completely self-centered. To be totally honest, I still fight that trait to this day, and some days, it wins. However, when you're young, your life is all about what will make you happiest in the very near future. By near future, that could be weeks, days, or even hours. What other people are doing, feeling, or experiencing is of relatively little value, unless it's a means to getting that next dose of happiness. If you have kids at home, especially teenagers, you know this all too well. If this reflects your own life, and you are past your twenties, you are doing it wrong.
As you get older, you are supposed to grow up and be 'responsible'. Being responsible, as a wise friend once told me, is being able to choose your response. As life gets more complicated with relationships, work, family, and other things, they all start to bide for your time and attention. This is when 'responsible' feels more like being on the hook for everything and less about choosing a response.
As I approached my forties, I began to take inventory of my life. I hear this is normal, and even healthy. As long as don’t divorce your wife for someone half her age, and buy a convertible Corvette. Knowing that you may have just hit the apex of your lifespan, that you may have fewer sunrises ahead than are in the rear view mirror, can bring you life into focus. It did for me. I wanted to start making a difference in the world surrounding me. I began to say yes to things that I had resisted in the past. Community groups, church, politics, I began to serve on all types of committees, leadership teams, boards of directors and such.
I want to be as clear as I can here, these are all wonderful organizations, and worthy causes. My hat is off to those who serve in these roles. There is a lot of hard work, long days (and nights) no pay, and very little recognition. I hope in the future I can find a balance in my life that allows me once again to serve those around me. Right now, I am turning my focus elsewhere.
In an earlier piece, I wrote about my daughter and how I wanted to spend more time with her as she enters her pre-teen years. When I looked at my calendar before, it was filled with meetings, volunteer days, and other activities. I began to realize how much I rely on my wife when it comes to Abbie. They are two peas in a pod, and while this is great for their relationship, I can't just be a bystander in my daughter’s life. I want to be as involved in her life as I am in my son's life. This will be a challenge for me, as the thought of a car load or house full of giggling, screaming, eleven year old girls gives me the hives.
The other reason for my disengagement with my volunteer activities is a bit more personal. I need to do a little work on myself. Well, maybe a more than a little. That mid life, self assessment left me with a few areas where I need to improve. My health, my spiritual maturity, my family life; I need to invest my time and focus on these things right now. Not that you can ever master these areas, but you only have a limited amount of resources, and when I am spreading myself a mile wide, I find that I am only an inch deep.
To boil it down, I guess I am doing too many things, and I'm not doing any of them well.
I hope this winter is a growing season for me; as a husband, a father, a man, and as follower of Christ.
I hope sometime in the future, I can re-engage in some of these areas. This time, I will give the opportunity a very close look, and talk it over with my family. They will have final veto power. For now, it’s out to the workshop; I have a lot of work to do.