Today would have been a travel day, in what seems like a lifetime ago.
I’d have my bag packed, a batch of shortbread made, and would be (probably frantically) doing some last-minute work in the morning before heading to the airport for a Thursday-to-Sunday pre-Christmas getaway. Destination: Vancouver, and the home of my very best friend from — and the highlight of — my high school days.
Sometimes, between the demands of work and my own family and getting ready for Christmas, it seemed impossible to even think of getting away, but I did.
Dale and I got ready for Christmas together every year that she spent in Vancouver. Usually, we went to pick out a tree together, set it up and decorated it. I made more shortbread with her two daughters. We went Christmas shopping. We made meals, laughed, hung out with her son and daughters, caught up on each other’s lives and laughed some more. Even the mundane chores of life with small children were somehow easier because it was like having two moms in the house.
Well, maybe you know where this is heading. Dale died of multiple myeloma in January, 2005. So I can’t tell you how glad I am that I made a point of visiting every single year, no matter what was going on.
Through Jean Gogolin, a speechwriter friend met through the serendipity of the Internet, I read an interesting perspective on the need for balance in life, contained in a speech by Coca-Cola CEO Bryan Dyson:
“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them — work, family, health, friends and spirit, and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls — family, health, friends and spirit — are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. It will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.”
I love that description, and he’s right. Every time I’ve thought “I can’t possibly get away, I’ve got too much work,” but I’ve done it anyway — to visit Dale, to take a one-hour skiing lesson once a week, to help out occasionally in my sons’ classrooms when they were small — the work has been there when I returned, and it got done. And my family, health, friends and spirit have been the better for my choice.
So don’t neglect your work, but make sure it doesn’t cause you to scuff or shatter the other balls in your life.
Ouch. The analogy of work as a rubber ball and the other aspects as glass is startling. As I’ve been fairly workaholic for the last two years, getting a magazine off the ground, I can see that my balance is now wa-a-a-a-y off. The trouble with a small business is that the goal keeps receding even as you approach it. When you’re doing OK, you want to do better. There’s always more to do. And we’ve heard in the last few weeks from a successful business entrepreneur and also from a significant advertiser, that we are doing really well with the magazine. And that we need to celebrate our achievements more. I think we may need to crack open that bottle of sparkling wine that we’ve been given a year ago & have never had time to enjoy.
What a beautiful post, Sue. I love the “glass” analogy because it’s so true. Your writing made me think of my own friend who died of multiple myeloma this year. Knowing she’d been handed a “death sentence” a few years ago, she turned it into a “life manifesto,” living life to the fullest every possible minute, and spending as much time as possible with loved ones.
I think all of us would do well to take this advice to heart in 2010.
You celebrate your friend Dale with great affection and remembrance, sharing it with us in a way that the message is clear. I admire the tone of this post — you speak of her and your time together with reverence yet with only a hint of sadness. It is, I think, a lovely and fitting way to remember one so special and keep your friendship alive across all time and space.
It is good to have had such a friendship. Recalling it here is a reminder of those around you who love you now and whom you love. Don’t waste a moment.
Thank you all for your thoughtful comments! Gloria, half the battle is realizing you are in that situation. By all means, crack that bottle soon.
Last Friday night we popped the cork and enjoyed the sparkling wine. And this week I feel more confident and optimistic!
Gloria, I am so happy to hear that! Escarpment Views is a great little magazine, and you SHOULD be celebrating its success. The good thing about your situation, too, is that you and Mike are in it together.