Who am I? Right now, I’m just a very exhausted person coming out of a deep depression. I am very old man. If you do the math, I’m about 648?
A very long time ago, in an apartment in West Philly, a friend mentioned something that stuck with me. He said it seemed like I lived 10 years for every one that everybody else did. Just last week, another friend wrote that half way through my life, I lived more than other people could in five life times.
You do the math. I’m too tired.
I’m just looking for a nap on a warm beach. I’m wondering if there is enough gas left in my tank to do anything else. I’m wondering what else to do and to how to go about doing it without making the same mistakes I did in the past.
You really don’t understand. That’s okay. You have not walked in my shoes. People have been on parts of my journey, caught glimpses of it, so different people have different perspectives about me and who I am.
15 years ago, I was seeking things I never had before, could never accomplish. I wanted balance in my life. I wanted a home I could not be thrown out of or chased out of. So, I bought a business. My partner knew nothing about the business besides a very small portion. So I did what I always did: I did what I had to do. That meant sacrificing balance for stability. It meant continuing to do a thousand different things at once.
Everything is a story within a story that can expand into a novel. Just believe me when I say: I rocked it. I took the same gifts, talents, eccentricities that had gotten me into my 30’s and applied them to a business that lost 25% of its annual sales in the first year. 80+ hours per week? Every weekend, every holiday, every vacation, I was in there. Things were just starting to settle down after 8-9 years and I saw a light at the end of the tunnel.
Maybe then I could get some rest? Maybe then I could find some balance, be a writer again?
Technology hit my industry like a tsunami. Nothing like it had ever happened. The last major change in my industry occurred in the mid 70’s and it did not even come close to what was happening. Labs died. People I knew died. The light at the end of the tunnel turned into the proverbial train. I dug down a little deeper, broke out the surfboard, and rode the wave. I didn’t just survive the hit; I rocked it.
And I grew more and more tired. More and more exhausted. An old man grew ancient. Aye, I did what I had to do. And then being me, I went above and beyond and founded a national association just because I was pissed off. The association that has now gone international and I’m being recognized as a leader, an educator, in my industry.
I sold my lab. It’s exciting but it’s also weird. I gave away my identity. And now I need to figure out who the new “me” is going to be.
I would love to say the dust is settling, but it’s not. Making the decisions I made, while trying to plan for the future, was like a god of old, or maybe the Chris of old, calling forth the high winds, the powerful winds, to kick up an epic dust storm. “Sometimes you have to tear everything down,” someone said, “to rebuild the house you want.”
That would be easy. So easy. Maybe it would even work? Just slide. As the bricks are falling all around me, just slide from the cascade into a new apartment. As the rubble is crashing around me, just slide into a new job at a different lab outside of my non compete, commanding a salary reflecting my experience and accomplishments.
But I’m not.
As the bricks are falling, the rubble crashing, I’m standing in the middle of it. There are pieces I want to save, some items I might want to save, some things that might help with the next steps I want to take. I don’t want to slide. I want to soar.
I’ve always known two things about myself. 1) the need to soar is engraved into my soul, my dreams and my identity. 2) I need a foundation to soar from, a place either mental or physical to push off from and return to.
It’s all…Yep, you guessed it: exhausting.
And most of the people that love me aren’t helping. It’s ironic because as I am finally coming out of my depression, I am being pushed back into it. As I finally am seeing ways out of the depression, out of the exhaustion, they are exhausting me even more.
I had hoped for a celebration of my business sale. A rebachelor party as I divorce my business partner. But it turned into the third biggest disappointment of my life. Or maybe even the biggest. At least the other two (my actual bachelor party and my 30th birthday), nobody showed up. I wish nobody had showed up. But they did.
“Are you off your meds?” “Are you manic?” And nonsense along those lines, with my psychiatrist perplexed and my wife agreeing, explaining “they just never saw you like I did, they never saw you going in a thousand directions every day for over a decade.”
“It’s because we love you and are worried,” one person said. Something clicked at that point. Something that transcended the anger and hurt. A truth. A fact of my life that shaped me that I don’t want to allow to shape anymore of my life: I have been damaged more by people who love me than by any other single thing, including my own stupid ass mistakes.
The excitement begins to build. A little bit. There are still a few months to make it through, a few things to wrap up, but those high winds, those strong winds that have been gone and out of my grasp for so long are on their way again. The weight of 648 years is shedding off of me and I become lighter, more able to soar.
The question of the foundation perplexes me, but I am working on it, while I juggle the thousand different things down from the two thousand different things.