I find my life changing very rapidly. To be honest, I don’t live for my work. I work so I can live. My goal in life has always been to make a difference. I don’t always feel like I’m doing that with my regular paying job.
Here is an example. I spent months on a report that was being directed by a Federal Officer high up in Washington D.C. It was supposed to protect the lives of archaeologists and honor indigenous people’s too. I thought it would make a huge difference in the landscape of my work. At the end of many deliberations and changes to the report, I submitted it. I even presented the results to some Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of ****. Wouldn’t you know it, this official told me that the person I was working with decided to go a different direction. When I asked about this, it was very true. All the time I spent on something that I thought was important suddenly meant nothing. You could pretty much throw away all the work I did into the trash. And not only that, it means taxpayer dollars were summarily burned into ashes as well.
It wasn’t any different from when I was a University Professor. It just so happen I caught the wave of a plant disease that greatly affected highly managed turfgrass lawns. Now, to those of us in the trenches, that doesn’t mean a lot. But to a golf course that is hosting a huge event, and to the hosting organization (like the Professional Golf Association), to all the sponsors who invested money to get their names highlighted to generate sales, to all the golfers and spectators who paid for plane tickets and hotel rooms, well, a lot is on the line. When a plant disease can basically wipe out an event on its own in a matter of days or even hours, that’s not a good thing. So I was working on the genetics of plant disease and I sought a solution. Everyone was totally behind me. However, what people didn’t have was patience. And by the time I could even propose a solution, they already changed away from the species of susceptible grass and planted something else. Even if we found a gene responsible for the disease and made some company a lot of money for creating a new variety of grass, it wouldn’t amount to a hill of beans anymore.
What you realize is this is the story of just one person’s life. Now multiply that across research that is done all the time. How much of it really ends up affecting people’s lives?
So now, I look at books in my work library that talk about bacterial genetics, molecular biology, and modern techniques of DNA research. I look at Volumes of books on statistical software and techniques for multivariate statistical analysis. I look at Agent Based Modeling and Data Mining. And notable Leadership and Corporate Motivation books. I’m a book person. I cherish books and their meaning. To think of the hours I’ve poured into these books, studying them, and finding solutions to problems. But life changes. If I move on from this career in a few years, what will these books mean to me? Absolutely nothing.
You know what works great for Sharpie permanent marker? You know, possession means you write your name on all your books so if you accidentally leave it somewhere or your colleague borrows it, you can hopefully get it back. Its acetone. You know, the highly flammable chemical that is used to remove fingernail paint. It works great. So I asked my wife to pick up a bottle for me. Its sitting next to all those cherished books to wipe my name and hopefully sell on Amazon. Then I’ll donate what I can’t sell.
I have a lot of other things in my office that won’t mean anything to me in a few years. Not only that, I have the same in my house. I have a wood working router that I never used. I have a band saw that I’ve only used a few times. I have many things I thought I needed but only used once or twice. Why do we hold on to these things? I have year books and things that I never look at. Yes, they are memories. I love memories and I’m very nostalgic. But think about how many times I use them. Maybe someone will copy a few notes from them for my memorial when I die. But what will they really mean to anyone?
Life changes and that’s ok. My purpose in life (now) is to have meaningful purpose. Its not to bide time away or just to fulfill my own immediate enjoyment. I want to make other’s people’s lives better. And I feel I do that really well with my teaching of yoga. I actually change peoples lives. It means something to people. The same is true with my education in Thai yoga massage. I can actually heal people. I can make them feel better. That is huge to me. As someone with chronic back pain and issues that I’ve held for years, I know how well all of this works. I think about the devastation my body had gone through in my 30’s and 40’s. I’m finally feeling like my body is where I want it to be. Its taken this long to figure it out.
Let life change for the positive. Find meaning. Savor every minute. Don’t let wasted time fall by the wayside. Make every moment meaningful.