The Surprising, Fickle, and sometimes Unpredictable Gift of Solitude

The Surprising, Fickle, and sometimes Unpredictable Gift of Solitude

The past few weeks have turned businesses upside down, inside out, and downright topsy-turvey, but that doesn’t mean we are done! I might sound like a broken record to anyone who will hear me, but after 9/11 we were Americans fighting against terrorism,  after the recession of 2008, we were in our businesses trying to beat the stock market, and now we are HUMANS versus a virus named COVID-19. 

On Sunday my family and I sat on the couch, turned on YouTube and streamed Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church out of Charlotte, NC addressing the current Covid Crisis. Regardless of your beliefs, Pastor Furtick said one thing we can all get behind, “…I don’t want to just survive this, I want to come out of this being better!!”

This past year my wife took an epic journey across Canada and the northern central part of the United States extending from Pennsylvania to Wyoming and back. This was definitely an epic adventure and one that I had known was on her bucket list since first meeting her 19 years ago. She had dreamed of taking an RV trip through many of America’s great National Parks with her dad. And here she was, finally ready to take on this BIG adventure, not only with her dad but also with our kids. 

Sidenote, while my wife is a loving, compassionate woman, she knew I would be a horrible travel companion and graced me with my own gift of staying home here in Pennsylvania for the six weeks. 

Weeks leading up to her trip, I recall looking at these six weeks as a gift, a gift most married men never have. All of my friends were jealous and asking what I had done to get such an unprecedented gift. My wife was suddenly the most admired woman among men everywhere!

The Plan

Once my wife had decided that she was going and she had selected a date, I had a strong sense that I couldn’t waste this gift of time my wife had given me. What would I do with these six weeks? Was I going to blow it or was I going to take advantage of it? 

I started compiling a list of things I wanted to accomplish, learn, and even try. I felt like a kid in a candy shop, I didn’t know where to start. 

The Adventure Begins

The adventure beginsAt 7 am on July 20th, the alarm sounds. By 7:15 I’m loading bags into and one top of the car. As a typical male, I’m concerned with the proper position of each bag.  I make sure that the driver can easily see out the back window, every bag is slotted in like a perfect Tetris piece, it’s weight dispersed evenly across the expanse of the car. By 8 am my family loads into the VW Atlas, we say our goodbyes, hug, kiss, and they pull out of the driveway. It’s at that moment it hits me….I’m alone for the first time in 19 years. I’m both excited for the six weeks in front of me and equally petrified at my “alone-ness.”

Fast Forward

Fast forward six weeks — I’m still alive and four of my checklist items have been accomplished.

  1. I’ve lost nearly 20lbs (mainly because I didn’t have my wife cooking amazing meals),
  2. I’ve read part of a book every day, 
  3. I dropped 10 strokes off my golf game, AND,
  4. I’ve developed a business plan for a new business (more to come on this).

While most of this, within itself, may seem simple or not terribly exciting to most, I was thrilled that I had accomplished so much in such a short period of time. 

I was up every morning at 5:30 am and headed to the golf course by 6 am. I walked between 9-18 holes each morning and was in the office by 9:30 am. I would spend my evenings talking with the family, spending time with my dog and cat, and would finish the night reading a few chapters with lights off by 9:30 pm. 

What Does This All Mean?

While this summer experience was one that I’ll never forget, I missed my family dearly and I learned that I would rather have my family with me each and every day than to take 10 strokes off my handicap. 

So while many of us are stuck at home, working remotely, homeschooling our kids, doing life in isolation, what are we doing to take advantage of the time in front of us? Are you using it to better yourself, your family, and your future? Will you move forward, reprioritize some things, emerge refreshed? Or are you just going to “suffer through” this isolation and come out the other side of this the same, unchanged person, or worse? 

My hope is that you will come out a better friend, better as a family, with a better business, and most importantly that you’ll emerge a better person. What do you need to do to take advantage of this time being at home in that “social distancing” (now being re-termed “physical distancing”) is giving you an opportunity to do? Stop obsessively following the news, disconnect from social media – when you are looking for something positive in your life you have to turn off the negative. Don’t let these present circumstances define you, define what you want out of this.

Make a list, go daily walks with your family, call a friend every day, read a book. Find something that will make you better so by the time you go back to “normal,” you’re different.

The Surprising, Fickle, and sometimes Unpredictable Gift of Solitude
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