There are key events that take place in the course of a person’s life that can result in them taking a step back and having a look at their goals and aspirations and just what is important to them.
The first such event in someones life may well be the beginning of the transition period from secondary school to work or tertiary studies. This is then followed by many things including marriage, children, divorce, and illness, loss of loved ones, successes and disappointments and situations that may challenge your own mortality.
I guess I have had the benefit of two events in the last 18 months that have prompted me to have a look at just what it is I want to do, how I want to do it and what is important.
The first event was of course open heart surgery which occurred on the 3rd March last year.
Looking back, this was to some extent an almost surreal experience. It was also one of those times in life when you are excused for being totally selfish and self absorbed. Internally, you become totally and utterly focused on yourself and your own preparation for surgery and then recovery and rehabilitation after surgery. And what’s more, virtually everyone in your family and friends circle is totally supportive of your selfishness.
Thanks to a fabulous and talented medical team before during and after surgery and an obsessive desire to do what needed to be done, I recovered quickly and completely. Perhaps a degree of determination assisted also.
However, I almost felt obliged to re-asses my life, what was important and what I wanted from it.
In very many ways my life is blessed. I have two wonderful sons and have good relationships with both of them. We enjoy each others’ company and communicate easily, happily and consistently. All of which is often rare between a Father and sons aged 17 and 19.
In 2008 I had a good job working with a good group of people and was reasonably well paid.
I have a small but close circle of friends who I value greatly and I laugh and smile for the greater percentage of each and every day.
But I felt obliged to review things and this is about all I came up with:-
• I would limit my alcohol intake
• I would not drink soft drink again
• I would only eat what was good for me
• I would adopt a weekly exercise regime that is not negotiable
• I enjoy corporate life
• Having deliberately withdrawn from Executive life, I would now seek to
return to an Executive Management role
• Business and work would not dominate my life
• There is little to be gained from being impatient, so don’t be
• Re-establish relationships and friendships that have deteriorated due to
laziness of petty issues.
I have to say, this is not a very impressive list. There is nothing very substantial or philosophical here at all.
However, at no time before, during or after the heart surgery and rehabilitation process did I really consider I was in danger of doing anything other than surviving and fully recoverinbg from surgery. I never really felt as if my mortality was threatened. It was a process I was undertaking and in my mind a positive outcome was assured.
Nothing was really going to change in my world and life pretty much went on as normal. I have however implemented and maintained all the items listed above.
The second significant event occurred on 19th August, 2009 when I bounced off one car, into the path of another while riding my bike in a bike lane in Grey Street at Brisbane’s Southbank precinct.
I cannot recall too many details of the actual event. I was the victim of a senseless act of stupidity by a lady possessing insufficient care and intelligence to be allowed out in public.
The outcome however is that I suffered 6 breaks across 4 ribs, a broken scapular (shoulder blade), a punctured lung, a deep wound to my left chest and I endured a day in emergency and several days (and nights) in hospital. I faced the prospect of losing movement in my right arm however this now appears unlikely.
I was not really aware of the role the second vehicle at the time however I need to clarify right now, the second vehicle was not in any at fault or doing the wrong thing.
To put it bluntly, I know understand I was very, very close to suffering injuries that may well have seen me dead or severely disabled. The front wheel of the second car ran over the top of my helmet. If it had been different by no more than 2 centimetres, instead of popping my head out from under the wheel, my head would have been crushed.
It is only from talking after the event to the people riding with me that I fully understood just how close I was to something far more serious happening.
Unlike the heart surgery, I do see this event as being a brush with mortality and as well as resulting in me having a sense of discomfort, I am certainly motivated to examine my world and what is important.
So what is important in my world (outside of my family) and what needs examining? What do I do or involve myself in that is un-necessary, negative or non-positive? What do I spend time and energy on that is basically not important or is petty and/or irrelevant?
I returned to work a few weeks ago (be it part time) and interestingly, a colleague told me she half expected I would come back and announce I had looked at my life, where it was at and where it is going and was severing ties with financial services and was off to pursue my radio dreams. At the time, I avoided answering her directly.
However, I enjoy my job and more importantly, enjoy the people I work with and in particular those I work most closely with. They are intelligent and entertaining. Patsy is a fine wine, fine food loving, travel addicted socialist with an extraordinary work ethic. Henry is a highly entertaining raconteur capable of finding the negative in most things (be it in a fun way) who misses nothing and has an incredible client care and service quality and family commitment.
Why would I want to change that?
I don’t get paid a huge salary but I am reasonably remunerated so there is nothing to complain about really and there are enough challenges to keep things interesting.
My recreational activities are satisfying however I will travel more once secondary school commitments are cleared at the end of the year.
So what if anything needs changing or review? What do I do that is essentially senseless, wasteful of emotion or makes no positive contribution to my world?
And one thing sticks out more than anything.
A constant thought since the crash is what new bike I will buy. There is a strong image factor associated with bikes. European is the best for credibility and “oh, arh” value while American/Canadian are perhaps the best product but lack Euro credibility. I was leaning towards European for no reason other than image.
Many years ago I abandoned the option of having a company car. Since then, I have bought European cars. I have recently been looking for a new car (and procrastinating about a purchase). I have been looking at BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Volkswagen, SAAB and Peugeot. But I know that Holden Calais is built and engineered as well as any BMW, is better suited to Australian conditions and costs less to buy and maintain.
I also know what I need and what makes sense but until now, have not really considered such options due to the image they portray. I may even keep what I have even though I have had it for five years.
There are sporting events I would like to attend but don’t. I generally refuse to go unless I am invited to a corporate box. The outer terraces are not good for the image.
My “life” review post major traumatic event is to stop making decisions based on image.
I will buy the car that makes sense and suits me best and if that is a Holden or a Mitsubishi, so be it.
I will buy the bike that makes sense irrespective of its “show” value.
I spend far too much time and effort on the image I portray or try to portray. I have no idea if it is a successful portrayal.
It simply does not make sense, causes anguish and is perhaps even a touch dishonest
And as well as cars and bikes, I will apply this to all aspects of life.
I might even give camping a go - in a tent.