It occurred to me in my fifties that I had been coming to the same workplace for over 25 years. The same four story office building and the same small parking lot in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. Now don’t get me wrong, I have traveled a lot. More then most people I know. But the thought that I had wasted so many years in this very small area of the world bothered me. I had not thought about it before. I don’t dislike my job, but I don’t live for my job either. I have made good money at it, but we only have so many days, so many years to live and I have wasted a lot of them driving the five miles to work and spending five days a week in this one building in this one postage stamp – no, pinhead area of the world. There are so many places that I have not seen.
We only have a limited number of days to live in this world, why did I have to spend so many of my days in this office building? To make money? To have health insurance? Some say to be fulfilled, but that one I doubt because I think if I were independently wealthy, I could make good use of my time and money and be very fulfilled and even more fulfilled then going to my day job each work day. I feel like a hamster on a wheel.
So how do I justify the time “wasted” in this one small area?
I remind myself how I have made a good living for myself and my family. I could not have done so if I were not committed to a career and the time and energy that career takes, but make no mistake, I picked wrong.
I could have been a biologist on a ship in the ocean studying the seas. I could have been Jacques Cousteau. I could have been a park ranger and been a part of our country’s natural beauty instead of in a stuffy office building.
Yes, those would have been exciting, but I would not have had my children’s stable family life and all of the fun and excitement that came with having a big and happy family. We did our share of travel and we had a nice house and did fun things on a weekly basis, all made possible by the “stuffy” office work.
The choice of stability and routine reaped many benefits for our entire family, and it was a good choice in hindsight. The grass may look greener on the other side, but even those adventurous lives have their downsides. We just don’t see them on TV.
We know this in hindsight because with age comes the realization that for every choice there is both positive and negative. It is what you do with the time and your focus on the positive that makes for a happy life. Appreciate what you have accomplished for yourself and your family. There is nothing that steals your happiness like always wanting more and wanting what you don’t have. What you have and what you have accomplished is amazing!