The Startup
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The Startup

What To Do When You Run Out Of Whens…

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I am getting in the habit of writing things I need to read. The bad news is that I have not necessarily field tested everything. On the other hand, I have tried all the stuff that didn’t work. In this manner you can rest assured that I identified some stellar ideas by process of elimination.

As I look back on my life I realize that I have always considered the present moment to be a mere placeholder for when I am ready to live life.

The way it all began

When I was in secondary school, I couldn’t wait to get to college. I figured that escaping my hellish home life and gaining independence would allow me to gain happiness. Turned out, school was hard! And on top of that, I managed to go to a military school without realizing it (a long story).

Needless to say I decided that college was not real life — and I counted the days till graduation when I would escape to pursue my dreams. As I was headed into the military that may not have been a realistic view….

I next decided that getting out of the military was the magic key…. and then my goal became finding a life partner and starting a family.

My bride and I decided that having children and building a house in the country was the way to set us on a course for the ideal happily ever after. It turns out that kids are a lot of work — and I don’t like shoveling animal poop or dealing with old and over taxed septic systems.

So I got the new job and moved to the new place.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about retirement.

I am 57, and I just realized I am running out of whens.

I have not yet retired. But after that when, what is left? Death? That is a sobering thought. So is this:

Did I spend so much time thinking about the future that I forgot to enjoy the present?

What Next?

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I feel like I was hurrying along a path with my head down, busy pondering the spectacular sights around the next few bends. Looking up, I was surprised to see that my path was surrounded by mountains, waterfalls, flowers, wildlife, and a million spectacular sights. My family is there with me.

Do I slow down and enjoy the journey — or continue to myopically focus on a destination I might never reach.

I choose the enjoy the present

Today I went to work. I have a new office that gives me a great view of the surrounding hilly countryside. I had the chance to work with several people I respect on projects that are really very cool. I went to a demanding yoga class that left me feeling exhausted but satisfied with my progress. Then I came home to my favorite people in the world.

I am wrapping up this day by putting thoughts into words to share with others — which until a few weeks ago I had never done. This day was excellent, and unless I had take the time to write this story I would have glossed right over it — as I dreamed of telling the boss that I am outta there for good on the way to the happy retirement ranch.

There are things I want to do in the future. I do want to retire some day. I want to do some traveling. There is that novel I hoped to write.

In the near term, I want to take my son up on going out to dinner (his treat!). I want to take that back packing trip into the national forest that my wife and I have been talking about — just the two of us. I want to take time to visit with friends, and have family movie night as my twelve year old keeps asking.

I want to go to work each day focusing on the good things, and avoiding the restless and negative attitude I so often get trapped in.

I realize that I need to live as if there is no tomorrow. And there might not be.

I need to make my life extraordinary each day. As Professor Keating (Robin Williams) said in the movie “Dead Poets Society” :

“Carpe Diemseize the day.”

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John Keane

John Keane


Husband, Dad, Rocket Scientist, Retired Military, Space Alien.