Ah, for the simpler times of mayhem.
When I was embracing the twilight of my 20’s, it was a non-stop treadmill of life. I was divorced raising 3 young daughters, as I worked up the ladder of professional stiletto stabbing glamor. What more could I have wanted? That was easy- a Snickers bar. Oh how I would look forward to a day, which came along rarely, when I was alone on a week day and could lounge in bed nibbling on a Snickers bar. It was a simple fantasy in my then overly complicated life, and the thought of it is still an oasis in time for me now.
Today, I lay in bed long past 9:00am, window open to the cool breath of November air. There is an equally cool place between the sheets for my feet and my faithful Fritzie, who is snoring in a sunbeam, and without warning I thought about that Snickers bar and laughed. It was ironic you see, as I had nothing pushing my buttons to leave the silent sanctuary of my bed, and yet as with most days in my life now, that was exactly what I wanted. Yes, Snickers bar be damned, I wanted to be rushed out the door towards a 15 hour day which most likely meant missing breakfast, lunch and too many cups of cold tea before I returned home after dark. As they grew up my young daughters knew this life too, and had no need for the Suzy Homemaker oven I treasured, they wanted business cards, huge fake cell phones of the era and briefcases, that sat open on TV trays in the living room, set up as their office space. My high heels and old blazers on their tiny bodies were worn proud, if not far from chic.
The long hours that kept me from my daughters then, the birthdays I missed because I was out of town, and waking up in a new hotel room not remembering which city I was in, after one to many red eye flights, didn’t seem as horrible now as I remembered. After all, who in their right mind wishes to become the infamous frog in a blender? Actually, no one really does, it’s not the blender we miss, it’s the attention needed to be put into the jar, contained and prepared. For lack of a better explanation, it’s just being needed in the way we feel we perform the best.
There is a short story, He’s at the Office, by Allan Gurganus that tearfully showcases this exact need and I know it will be my own epitaph as well when my time comes. In my working days however, it was my “daytimer” which became synonymous with my life. Just as now it is my Felix the cat, Mary Poppins over sized leather purse, which is isn’t a Coach but needs one for transportation. My daughters always knew to find my daytimer if anything was needed, and so did my co-workers; so much so, I was hunted down once as I walked up the steps on a plane, because no one could function without the office bible I had created and carried. How I loved being the go to person who could make anything happen. I used to say the everyday was sometimes difficult, but the impossible was a piece of cake – Indiana Jones would be jealous, especially since in those days the web was still a mere tide pool without a surf, carbon paper was fearing the delights of Word Star passing by the IBM Selectric and blackberries were for lunch, not containing all the media of a decade.
Even now, I love the need for a mission to find, solve or discover what no one else can, and it isn’t for accolades – frankly, most of what I accomplish is done matter of fact or anonymous. It is just the personal satisfaction of the grail being found, of the journey, and of my ability. Don’t get me wrong though, back in my youth, in business, it was a rush knowing one of the yellow bricks on the road to success was mine, and it helped blaze a trail. I knew I was a part of the process. That is what I miss – and not just for me, but for the business world – their loss. Steve Jobs knew the feeling, and it is now only after his death, we can see just how deep the roots from his apple tree grew, and into how many dreams, realities and lives it provided fruit. Indeed, that is when you know you have made a difference, when you feel the unseen pat on the back and want to do even more. So why then is it, no one makes much of an effort anymore? Everyone is looking for a reality series, a get rich quick lottery style success and the least amount of effort possible for the maximum benefit.
As I sit here today, my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s are behind me, and the concept of running a professional Hail Mary not really in my future again, however, I would do anything to hear Tattoo announce ‘Da Plane” just once more. Let me have a Fantasy Island 100 hour work week, holding a cracker jack prize of maybe one thing, that would ring the business bell and make a difference. Sadly, I guess that will always be the difference between a daytimer and a day dreamer.
So, as morning begins it’s fade into afternoon, I will at some point walk down the hall to the overly stuffed room of toys, movie memorabilia and technology referred to as “my office.” My laptop will greet me with emails and journeys across a search engine landscape, where all my questions and ideas will be answered. I’ll hold bored meetings there with Fritzie, as he sleeps under the 1950 kitchen table which serves as my desk, after being retired as my mothers kitchen table. Later, I may refill the cold cup of tea from earlier in the day, check for actual mail outside, listen to more than a few hours of CNN and hope somewhere in my Facebook corporation, someone will need something that I can solve. It may not be the pace I miss, but it is the pace that makes my heart beat and my mind content.
I know there is someone snickering because I miss business life #101, but bar none, it is the ultimate rush when you know you’ve made a difference, in not just the world, but in yourself as well. Don’t take for granted, ignoring what you have to offer, we’ve all been granted this life to experience and make a difference. And frankly between you and me and Harvey Mackay, who by the way also understands my logic, Mars candy isn’t blind – even if their Snicker loving sharks munch on Steve, instead of teaching him how to swim with them. So listen to what you know you can do and find a way to make it happen, if not for any other reason than the value of a Snickers bar.