Wednesday, September 13, 2006

More Than a Paycheck

It has been some time since I’ve really put any time into this space. Oh sure, my last post had all the hallmarks of an irreverent, idealistic rant – and it was that, but it was also a post of opportunity. The issue was delivered at my doorstep, so to speak. All I had to do was pick it up and run with it. Actually, now that I think about it, I really had no choice.

But I digress. I have an angle. Some thoughts for the day, as it were. Indeed, in my current schedule, it has only been on Sundays and Wednesdays that I ever really get any “free” time. And counting Wednesday is a bit of a stretch. In a way, it is a matter of acclimation for me. For a very long time, time was in abundance. In fact, the whole purpose of this blog was to burn up some of it.

Ok, third paragraph and I still haven’t really said much. Where’s the hook? I don’t want to lose you! Let me back up just a wee bit to pull some of this into perspective. Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, there lived…


Almost six years ago, on Oct. 17, 2000, my life nearly came to an end. Depending on whom you talk to, it did - more than once, but they brought me back. I couldn’t say – I really wasn’t there. Virtually everything I know from that date and for the next five weeks is hearsay – I have no direct recollection, just foggy, surrealistic and fleeting memories. The long short of it is that I was involved in a violent head-on collision with a logging truck; one that I shouldn’t have survived.

But I did. And I wasn’t exactly thrilled about it at the time. The recovery was long, long, long. Pain was (and still is to some extent) a daily reality for me. I was at once grateful and resentful that I had survived. That changed as well, but also very slowly – today I am exceedingly grateful. What made the whole deal even more difficult to stomach was that I was to blame… I created my own nightmare.

Ok, I don’t want to re-hash it; you can follow the links into my archives if you want greater detail. After the lengthy hospitalization, even lengthier physical rehabilitation, more hospitalizations and procedures all followed by more rehab, I ended up in pretty good shape – physically. Indeed, the recovery process is not yet complete, perhaps it never will be. But there are other pieces to the recovery puzzle that I was about to fit into place. It finally formed an image that looks like my life today.

I haven’t really worked from the date of the wreck until earlier this year. About five and a half years all tolled. I mean I’ve had a little job here or there, but not anything remotely resembling gainful employment, never mind a career. It’s not like I didn’t know what that was like. I’ve had a number of jobs - good ones – and more than a couple of careers. I am familiar with the ancillary benefits of being in demand. Self-esteem, self-respect and self-sufficiency are the rewards that transcend the paycheck. I’d lost those along the way.

In addition to rehabilitating, I was re-evaluating, reassessing, relocating, re-inventing, recovering, re-educating, reaffirming, resisting, reclining, re-shuffling, re-focusing, reviewing, rearranging and renewing. During the whole process, I had an abundance of free time. I’m thinking maybe that was a good thing – I must’ve needed it. However, I think having that much time devalued it. I was rarely rushed, almost never late. I was given the luxury of time.

Suffice it to say that I value my time much more now. At first, when the days started to get more hectic and deadlines became less flexible and the days were stringing together, I was ecstatic. It was an adrenalin rush. It still is much of the time; don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. Even when I was taking 16 units at Sac State a couple of semesters ago, I had time. Now with a part time job that takes full time effort and 12 upper division units… well you get the picture.

So here I am, almost 44 and enjoying the best part of my life. The personal growth I have experienced in the last six years is unprecedented. When I think about it, I always smile. Less than six years ago, my life was damn near over – at times I wished it were. It was the worst of times. I guess that’s what it took to get me to what is, in many respects the best of times.

It’s important, too, to remember that I don’t even have all those “things” that I thought I would need to be happy. No “relationship;” no big, expensive toys; no fame; and no fortune. Everything I need I already have. Little did I know, I always did.


Snaggle Tooth said...

I've had so little free time this year, that when I have it, I'm basically trying to keep up with needed living chores or collapsing!
When I've had time, I was always busy looking for work. I don't remember a time I haven't been fighting to survive n be self-sufficient.
A deadline driven existance is challenging, as with writing n design projects, n can help motovation to finish projects quicker.

Sounds like your one well-suited to the rush of the time-limit!
Glad you made it through your rough patch happy to've made it-

mckay said...

i'm glad you're in such a good spot in your life. may the good times continue!!!

and yes, happiness isn't about money, fame, fortune, or toys. it's got to come from inside.


Anonymous said...

Mike, I'm glad you shared this today. I read all the achrived posts you linked. I needed to hear some of this today. Thank you for openly sharing your life with us.

awareness said...

Hi Mike.

Learning, especially life's lessons is priceless really.......the gifts you are recognizing are the same gifts that seem to be showing up at my door too.......

It truly is more than just a paycheck.

Your circumstances and the time you were given to re-evaluate while recuperating must seem serendiptous when looking back on the trauma. I think there's some higher power in the mix somewhere that interupted your life so that you had the time to realize your gifts and potential.

Busy works! It's draining, but it works. Just ensure that you take a breather every now and then......and continue blogging/writing.....

PS.....Can't wait to hear the results of the contest. :) I'm biased, but have not lost perspective.........your piece was WAY better than the others!! WAY better!!!

Ellen said...

Amazing how the path through life can make you abundant with awareness... and hard to get there without walking through a pile of garbage first. There is no up unless you've been down, and the lessons you've derived from that are priceless.

As with Awareness... I am anxiously awaiting to see who won the contest. I agree with her, and think you had the best entry of them all. Fingers crossed here...

Belizegial said...

"whether it seems like it or not you are, right at this moment, exactly where you need to be."

Kudos on the comeback Mike!

CyberKitten said...

Classic post.

Really liked the end bit:

Everything I need I already have. Little did I know, I always did.

Hopalong Cassidy said...

You are very fortunate to be alive.

"I was given the luxury of time."


When I had two heart attacks last year
and was flown to another city for a triple bypass operation I wondered about certain things, but as it turned out I was given the luxury of time.

"(The) Grateful Dead" said "What a Long Strange Trip It's Been..."

Elvis and Tubby said:

"Regrets I've had a few
I did what I had to do
I faced it all
And I stood tall
I did it my way

We will meet you again
God bless you