And yes, I am aiding and abetting.
Yesterday, I spent a great deal of time in the financial fetal position. As of late, we’ve cut our income by 50%, we sold our Indiana house at a huge loss to make an absurdly expensive move to Mississippi, then the washing machine died, then the fuel pump had to be replaced on the Tahoe, then Mary Claire came down with strep and I came down with staph and none of our insurance deductibles had even been touched yet. And of course, the kids’ lunch accounts needed to be filled, all of Gus’s pants were two inches too short, and Sam’s computer kicked it. I curled up and yelled, “HOLY SHIT! WHAT NEXT?!”
And then I found out Steve Jobs died.
I didn’t know Steve Jobs. Wasn’t really an iFanatic. I mean, I love my Mac and my iPhone, but I’m not a first adopter. I don’t wait in line at the Apple store for the next release. I don’t even have an iPad. (Gasp!)
It’s not what Steve Jobs did that gives me pause today. It’s how he lived.
Yesterday, I got lost in the financials of it all. But here’s the thing… We make money, we spend money, we lose money, we make more money. That’s life. Money doesn’t define us, our things don’t tell the story of who we are. I will never argue that money doesn’t make things easier, that it doesn’t buy some leisure, that it doesn’t alleviate that hard lump in your throat when you sit down to pay the bills. When there are ample zeros in the checking account, the sun shines a little brighter. Not having money creates problems that create more problems. But ultimately, it is only money.
Yesterday, Steve Jobs — at the far-too-young age of 56 — drew his last breath on this earth. But I’ll be damned if he didn’t Live while he was here. We all know his legacy — from college drop-out to tech success to fired exec to world-changer. Mr. Jobs did what he was passionate about. He wasn’t afraid of failing, he just kept moving forward. In his own paraphrased words, “You can’t see the dots when you’re moving forward, but you can connect them all when you look back.”
I’ve been teaching my kids to look at the half-full side of life. It’s apparently time for the teacher to become the student. Because today, I am sitting at my desk with the windows open, and I am writing my next novel. I have two loyal dogs at my feet, a breeze on my back, healthy kids in school, dear friends who are calling and texting, and a cup of coffee by my side. (But not RIGHT next to my computer. We all know how that particular story ends…)
I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
Sitting in a cubicle sucks the life out of me. It’s just not who I am. Sure, the steady paychecks were nice when they were automatically deposited directly into my account, but they were just… nice. They were safe. I don’t want my life to be nice. I’m not sure I even want it to be safe. I want it to be exciting, adventurous. I want it to be Fucking Awesome. (Sorry, Mom. Sometimes it’s just the best descriptor.) I want to do what I was put on this earth to do.
Yesterday, my husband sat in his new office asking questions and looking for the answers. He researched, he thought, he pondered, he pontificated. That’s what he was put on this earth to do. His previous life was draining every ounce of energy and compassion and happiness from him. Now he’s re-energized, motivated, moving forward, changing the world.
During his legendary Stanford University commencement speech, Steve Jobs advised the fresh-faced graduates to choose their professions and their lovers wisely. The lover part was easy for us. I think we’re finally figuring out the profession part.
Someday, the dots that currently look a great deal like zeros in our checkbook will connect as a much bigger part of our story. Thanks, Mr. Jobs, for the reminder.
We’re right where we’re supposed to be. Are you?