Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Fight The Power


At the vine ripened age of 39, I came to the conclusion that this F word thing was headed my way whether I liked it or not.  At about this moment, I had to come to peace with the notion that no matter what I do or how I feel about aging, its going to go down. No crossroads pact I could finagle with Beelzebub himself would have any influence over the amount of years that my 5’11” frame will carry. This got me thinking about all aspects of my life. Dismissing the option of selling my soul to become a servant to the eye of Mordor, I decided to take inventory of what I can influence and what is out of my control.

Right around this same time I was on a flight and after a delightful cruise through SkyMall (may you rest in peace great bazaar of the friendly skies) I read an article in Fortune in which multiple CEO’s were interviewed. The common thread that contributed to their success was the importance of a lifetime pursuit of knowledge. At this point the starting gun fired, the squirrels in my head decided to run, and I realized that for too long I had been in an intellectual holding pattern. 

Upon this epiphany, it also dawned on me that I have placed a significant amount of time and energy on things I have virtually no control over. For example, the 24-7 news cycle that we now live in throws people into a world of rage on both sides of the aisle. Between talk radio, cable news outlets, magazines, books, and internet news sources it is easy to become consumed with politics. Before I go any further let me mention that there is a major difference between the 5% who are truly involved and the 95% who arm chair quarterback.  Those who are truly involved do have an influence on what happens, but let’s be honest most of us prefer complaining over action. This post is 100% politically neutural, and yes it is important to know your stuff and do your civic duty.   But let’s be honest…how much time and energy is wasted on things and people that we cannot influence, change, or impact one way or another.

It dawned on me that I had been vacu-sucked into a billion-dollar industry that prays on people’s emotions and passions, with the net outcome really being wasted time, and depleted brain storage. So virtually overnight I decided enough is enough.  I was going to un-plug from all things I could not directly control and focus my energy and passions on what I can control; primarily myself and my sphere of influence.  

The very next day I ordered a few books to jump start the gray matter, downloaded a bunch of podcasts, dusted off the running shoes and started a quest of influencing my own life and others in a positive direction. The crazy thing about this epiphany is this: What we draw our happiness from, namely those things that mean the most to us, are ninety percent of the time within arm’s reach. Think for a moment about how depressing the news is, but how amazing having a good conversation with friends over dinner can be. Contrast how trivial pop gossip is when compared to the satisfaction of learning something new. How much energy does it waste to argue a political opinion versus spending that time developing a new hobby?  Why do we tend to worry more about things that are beyond our control nationally, than paying attention to what is happening at the school board, county, or city level.

Let’s face it.  Life is extremely complicated as is,  and I disparage no one for their involvement with government or other distractions. The point I am trying to make is that we have the choice to either live our lives to the fullest or allow them to be riddled with an array of distractions. I can only speak for myself and my recent experience, but since taking this stance I am happier then I have been in years. I have learned some pretty amazing things, become a better father and husband, lost a few pounds, and am actively involved in local initiatives such as developing a mixed use trail system in my community.

So…in conclusion, I use this format not as a pulpit, but simply to share what has turned my F word experience from a gas station taquito into a glorious, smothered, chipotle-infused steak burrito with hot sauce (just saying). As the great Cuban Jazz leader Joe Cuba once stated, "Try it... You'll Like it."

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1 comment :

  1. Couldn't be more true. Focus on the stuff you can change. I love it!