When I was young my mind and body burned with an unquenchable ambition. In college I got involved in student politics and would not rest until I was elected president of the student body, which I was. I decided I wanted to go to medical school and would not rest until I was admitted to Harvard Medical School, which I was.
In those years I believed that there was a single straight line that connected any two points. Point A: where I was. Point B: where I wanted to be. Young people are generally praised for this sort of ambition; I know I certainly was. This is the American ideal of success. Pick a goal and stay the course, no matter what.
As I got older the fire of ambition continued to burn brightly but doubts began to creep into the back of my mind. I knew very well that persistence would always be a part of my character but maybe, just maybe, not every journey was meant to be a straight line. Maybe there could be some curves or even some loop-de-loops. I struggled with this insight and repeatedly fell back on the ferocity that had served me so well in my youth.
Now that I am in my mid-50’s I can see much more clearly that the whole journey of my life has been packed with twists and turns. In retrospect, those journeys from A to B were never as straight forward as I had believed them to be. Yes, I know, many of you are slapping your forehead and saying, “You’re just figuring this out?!”
Yeah, I am. Better late than never.
What I love about this age-inspired insight is that it gives me a vastly greater capacity for valuing relationship over performance and placing people ahead of tasks. The recent loss of our daughter Hannah puts an exclamation point on this for me. Life is short. Far too short. We the living are blessed with a opportunity to follow the crazy twisting and turning pathways of life. If we have even a trace of wisdom in us, we will treasure the people who travel that path at our side. One of the most important things that the elders I have cared for taught me is that I will remember the people in my life long after I have forgotten the numbers that I spend far too much time obsessing about.
Has it been a long strange trip? Yes it has. Do I want to continue the journey? I sure do. I expect to continue touring the country, to continue listening and learning. The question is, will you share the journey with me?
This is a road we will build together, through ups and downs, twists and turns, and we can not allow momentary discouragements or setbacks to lead us astray. Never has this been so clear as in my national Age of Disruption Tour. Last week we debuted in the Northeast with a zigzag line from Northampton, Mass., to Philadelphia, via Manchester, N.H., Cheshire, Conn. and New York. This week we’re all catching our breath and recouping at home. Next week we hit the Midwest–and I hope to see you there.
PS: Bring Your Friends!!!