High on Life

Music is pumping from our little outdoor speaker, playing the tunes I like, kind of folksy and jazzy. Sun is shining down and the dogs are chasing squirrels when the hapless animals brave to come close enough to our fence line. My wife is sitting doing a craft project on the worn, faded, deck boards. The temperature is pleasant, mild, not too hot and not too cool. My hands are stained with grease from fussing about with Mad Max earlier today. And my mind now is at ease, as I have completed my homework for tomorrow. So for the rest of the afternoon, we can be at peace and live without stress. And then the weekend will soon be at an end and the work week will begin anew.

Tomorrow I will have to give a presentation for our Sales team, it’s their quarterly Sales review and this time they are coming to my plant for an education and I am supposed to be their teacher. First, I hate giving presentations. Not that I am afraid of public speaking, but actually I find the whole exercise boring and time wasting. Second, I am not all the sure that the audience will really be listening and if anything I say will actually affect change. And last, well, perhaps what I really want to say tomorrow my Mother wouldn’t approve. Or maybe she would.

Risk is a major part of my daily job, and as much as I believe it is calculated and planned, it is still risk management. It is not the kind of risk that our soldiers, police, or fire fighters take. There isn’t a life threatening danger with the risk I take. After all, I am not piloting a plane of refugee’s on the last flight out before the hurricane strikes. The risks I take are more financial, and when successful often produce greater profits, better margins, and maintain customer satisfaction. When those things are met, my rewards allow me to pay for whatever the wife wants and needs, and possibly buys new bits for Tilly and Max. So, for me, these are important risks and impact our life substantially.

It’s when the work risks though take over the home life when everything can get a little pear shaped. For many in this world, work is their life. They live it when they sleep, when they brush their teeth, and perhaps too often when they have a daily constitutional  with their smartphone. I try not to have this problem, and think about what a friend once said, “Every weekend should be a little vacation.” I am not very good at fulfilling this mental state, but it is getting a little easier the older I become, and the fact of having two old cars that need constant attention has provided for a lot of mental stress release. Almost to the point that when I do go back to work on a Monday, I am still brains deep inside the engine bay of either Max or Tilly.

This past week we had some visitors here from Australia. Family. Now my mind was racing three or four different ways simultaneously. Taking the Kookaburra’s for site seeing trips around our little town, acting as a tourist myself, fighting with Max on a fuel issue, and then also having to go to work and act like an adult. I did not succeed very well, at work anyway, though maybe it did help as despite the issues, the temperaments, and the strifes, all I really cared about was being with family during the short time they were here. I was, in fact, living with them on their adventure. I was envious, but excited for them. When I had to take them back to the airport, dropping them off and heading to work was very painful, the pain you feel deep in your gut. The feeling of loss. And it took the rest of the week to recover.

In the end, we will not really remember the sales meetings, the team departmental meetings, the engineering meetings, the management meetings, or the endless conference calls. We will remember the times when the sun was shining, the wind was light, the sky was blue, and the dogs ran through the grass chasing each other in play. We will remember the smiles of our loved ones. We will remember the dancing, singing, and the laughing. We will remember the tears, hugs, and kisses. I’ll remember the smells of grease in my hands, Vegemite and toast, and scent of my wife’s soap after her shower. I’ll remember the ear piecing bark of a beagle in hot pursuit of a squirrel.

The days are not, nor should ever be, measured solely on our work. Take a risk, live the high life.

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