Earlier this year I started writing on a frequent basis in an attempt to quiet my mind organize all of the thoughts rolling around upstairs and their meanings.
Not only to find meaning, but to find a practical sense of direction and purpose in life.
This is essentially how I decided to deal with the proverbial mid-life extensional crisis that most, if not all of us will go through at some point.
I added writing and meditation and meaningful conversations with family, friends, and colleagues along with diet, moving my body daily, and above all: rest, to my daily regimen.
Just allowing myself to get the sleep I needed and to wake up each morning without an alarm proved to be one of the best things I could do for my wellbeing.
I seem to remember through my whole life I’ve always struggled how much rest I needed and the quantity changing from day to day.
Not getting enough rest all stems from working too much after already working too much, burning the candle at both ends and not having a “work/life balance” as if there were actually such a thing.
I chose the honor of hard work early on. I shouldn’t look back at that decision with scorn and regret, but I did.
A few weeks ago I had a mental and physical meltdown, not one that I am particularly proud of having, nor do I enjoy talking about, but need to because I need to understand.
I was cleaning out stuff from my garage that I had bought over the years with money earned by working all of those overtime hours, only to eventually throw it in the trash.
All of the missed birthday dinners, family gatherings, the missed time with friends, and all the times I said I was ‘busy’ because I needed to rest for the next workday, all the anxiety and panic attacks caused by stress from work, all for nothing.
To physically see it all in front of me provoked some deep feelings of regret and then that regret soon turned to into an anger that I had never felt in my life before.
Anger directed towards myself for being so stupid and wasting all that time, and for what?
Fast forward a couple weeks, after I had enough time to cope and reflect, I realized that the stuff I threw out doesn’t actually have an equal value to the time I thought I had wasted getting it.
It’s not equal. It’s not even close.
I forgot about the experience of time itself is a thing we get that only time itself can take away from us.
You see, when you spend enough time doing something, you get really good at it. You’re able to understand all of the variables and easily detect the nuance of it all. This is how we develop careers or get known for something.
What I realized is that I didn’t just trade my time for money, I traded my time for money, experience, knowledge, and wisdom.
It wasn’t a waste at all.
I got so angry because all I saw with my eyes was the stuff I bought with the money that I had earned from all the extra time I spent.
I didn’t see and touch the experience, knowledge, and wisdom I gained in addition all of those things that can’t be thrown away.
I didn’t see the framework of understanding I had implemented to use those things.
I didn’t see all of the things I learned from building and using the framework I had created from nothing over the years.
I didn’t see the fascination and wonderment and curiosity these things had on my friends, family, and others, and the impact it had on their lives.
I got angry and had a physical and mental meltdown because I didn’t understand at the time that the physical stuff I bought with the money from all the overtime I chose to work instead of having other experiences, is only a small portion of the value of my time that I spent.
I didn’t realize that it was the experience of working all the time that shaped who I am today and how I perceive the world. I don’t think I’d change my path if I were to do it all over again.
We are after all, a collection of our experiences.
I think I needed to feel the emotions of anger and regret to truly understand the value of the time I’ve invested in myself over the years by constantly working and being busy.
I shouldn’t have any regrets because it wasn’t waste of time and energy, it was an education through experience, and I’d like to think that there is no better teacher than time.
Thanks for reading and have a great day.