The Lost Year, Found

YearEndThis year, 2012, hasn’t turned out quite the way I envisioned.  Though I don’t regret spending my time as I have these past twelve months, the year wasn’t what I pictured when it started.  I didn’t completely rekindle my entrepreneurial flame early in the year.  It wasn’t the year in which I explored hundreds of small towns and villages and back roads of North America.  It wasn’t the breakthrough year of great new things.  It wasn’t any of those things I’d planned on.

It was, when all is said and done, a year-long personal day.  I didn’t even get to all the things I’d planned to do around the house.  I didn’t remodel the guest bath or the half bath.  No new deck.  No covered patio.  No raised vegetable garden out back.  I didn’t even paint the living room.  The year was one long “time out.”

I could blame the hiccups on all sorts of things: My brother-in-law died. I was preoccupied with what I would do after my COBRA coverage ran out on my health insurance.  The outflow of money was much greater than I had expected.  The weather over the summer was too hot.   There were too many rainy days early in the year.  There were too few rainy days later in the year.  I had no one to help me with the heavy lifting.  Mowing the lawn took more of my energy than I thought.  I forgot to set priorities.  I had too many priorities. The sun was the wrong color.  The moon didn’t have the right shape.  There are so many places where I could lay blame.  But finally, I come back to me.  Not to blame myself, but to acknowledge that I needed that personal day.

I needed it more than I needed a series of year-long cross-country trips. I needed it more than I needed a cruise through the Panama Canal. I needed it and more than I needed to jazz up the house.  I needed that personal day far more than I realized.

Something happened to me during 2012 that I wasn’t quite expecting.  I began to see myself as I am and as I have been.  I didn’t much like a lot of what I saw.  Though for at least a couple of years I have been saying, to myself and to anyone else who would listen, I was no longer motivated by money and the things it could buy, I noticed this year that the absence of income was troubling to me.  It was not troubling in the sense that I need income to reinforce my status.  It was troubling in the sense that its absence limited my new-found freedom.  It was not that I did not have the resources to enjoy my freedom…I could have used savings to do pretty much whatever I wanted…it was that I forced myself to make decisions about whether to live life for today, using my resources up on the process, or to temper my desires by denying myself those luxuries and those perquisites I had so long believed I wanted…needed.  Ultimately, what I came to realize was that I was basing my thought processes on my own personal wishes and desires and on my personal level of comfort with risk, not on our wishes and dreams and risk tolerance.

I needed the better part of a year to finally get it.  And we needed that year together so I could get it.  So, moving forward, plans will be made, decisions will be reached, and actions will be taken based on what is right for the two of us, not on my interpretation of what is right for the two of us.

What I know is not right for the two of us is for me to return to a work environment that permits me to place more value on the demands of work than on the demands of our own mental and physical well-being.

If there is a tomorrow for me, I will use it as a platform to do good things, first for my wife, then for my friends, then for the world in which we live.

I have found my lost year.  It was not what I expected.  I was not what it expected.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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