It’s a strange world we live in online. Delusions of grandeur call, singing like that sweet Siren in the midst of the sea. To win, we must appear like we are Doing Important Things, but in the end we find our lives dashed on the rocks.
I’m speaking about the competitive rat race to see who can get the most social media rock star badges; keynotes, books, followings, awards, blog mentions, yeah!
I have to admit, I got caught up in this hooplah again during the past year. Then I looked at my real life (the one I physically walk around in), and my toddler clinging to my pants leg crying every time I moved to the door, afraid that she wouldn’t see me again for days.
Well, when that happens it’s time to reevaluate what matters.
As the New Year turned I focused on less demanding projects, reduced my travel, and invested in more personal family time.
With no hard deadlines or need to market publicly declared personal projects, I am free. And it feels great, a new sense of levity and sanity.
How Projects Become Distractions
I remember my time with the monks of Plum Village. They kept talking to me about projects and how they distract us from being present. I didn’t realize that they were suggesting this for a reason, but sure enough, a few years later the message hit home.
You could say the bubble I was stuck in popped. Delusions be gone.
I have my business, my family and whatever else I choose to invest my time on, which for the most part remains private and not online (and that feels good, too).
What a sense of relief to not have anything to do or serve anyone else online. I have no hole to fill, no persona to live up to, no need to compete with my peers. Instead, I am present.
Sure, I get asked to do things, I might be tempted, but when I consider the time investment and impact, I just say F*&$ It, and move on. Windmill chases can wait another day.
The business demands enough of me, usually 60 hours a week or more. Then there is a half hour or more spent every day on physical therapy (I had microfracture surgery on my knee a month ago to repair cartilage damage).
Now that I am home, I try to invest three hours a work day with Soleil. Weekends offer significantly better periods to parent.
I invest the precious remaining time as I see fit, some of which includes Very Unimportant Things. At least to the online digerati.
It’s not that I won’t continue writing, speaking, running races, or pursuing other projects with my free time. But the project has to be one of significant personal value, too. Time commitment is quite a sacrifice.
When Grandeur Is Gone Life Can Happen
Last weekend, I planned to spend a few hours on one of my personal hobbies. But Soleil woke up in the middle of night on Thursday, demanding parental attention.
I opened the door. She had climbed half way over the crib, and basically jumped into my arms. A repeat performance on Saturday cemented it: Soleil needed a new bed before she broke her neck. Thus my grand plans fell to the wayside.
We drove to Ikea where she chose her bed by laying down and play napping in it. After a real nap with her Mommy and Daddy’s physical therapy time, we built the bed together.
Soleil handed me tools, screws and bolts while playing in the frame.
Though she is a girly girl stylistically, Soleil has quite an engineering mindset, really getting into puzzles, cars, computers and lego bricks. So it was only a mild surprise to see her insist on helping.
We hi-fived when the job was done. Soleil was excited: She helped build her first bed.
The time expenditure I planned couldn’t replace that radiant smile, not to mention knowing my daughter wouldn’t fall out of her crib.
And because I wasn’t set on chasing that very public Quixotic or Faustian dream of greatness, I didn’t really miss my hobby time.
Such a freeing moment. What a relief.
Have you ever had this kind of epiphany?