It’s day #4 of my vacation, so I have already exceeded the number of consecutive days I’ve taken off work in my entire adult life. As I might have mentioned before, a major motivation in taking this time off was not to become yet another drone who lives on autopilot.

Whether judo or accounting, too many people are doing what they are doing because it’s what they’ve always done

If you truly love judo or civil engineering or teaching third grade, then, by all means, knock yourself out (figuratively), keep doing that. Several of my role models come from judo.

  • Benjamin Nighthorse Campbell was on the 1964 U.S. Olympic team, he also designed jewelry, raised horses and went into politics, becoming one of the few Native Americans elected to Congress, both to the house and senate. He hasn’t been a judo coach or competitor in decades.
  • Hayward Nishioka was a member of the world championships judo team, then coached the U.S. team in the world championships and later was in the world championships as a referee. He’s also taught physical education and judo at the community college for decades. The consummate judo player, in his sixties, he took up kendo and scuba diving, just as extra activities.
  • Miguel Tudela , one of my teammates at Tenri Dojo, was on the U.S. Olympic team for judo, the Panamerican team for sambo. He went on to get a degree in international business and had a successful career in computer sales in North and South America.

Hayward did judo his whole life. Miguel and Senator Campbell did not. You could not have accused any of the three of them of having followed a beaten path.

Four days off has not led me to an epiphany

I didn’t really think it would, although that would have been nice. I spent much more time with my family, visiting one daughter’s family on Christmas Eve and having another daughter’s family at our house, along with my youngest daughter, on Christmas Day. If there was any thought provoking at all, it was simply me wondering how the heck I am old enough to have eight grandchildren and still doing all the things that I do.

My latest granddaughter
Fifth of 8 grandchildren

“People like you and I, who have achieved in sports, academically, in our professions, we never stop to rest because we are afraid that, if we do, we’ll never start up again.”

– Highly accomplished person I don’t like any more for unrelated reasons

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and although the person who made that comment failed to clear the bar on ethics, he was right – back then. I did worry, once upon a time, that if I turned down a contract, passed up a grant opportunity or didn’t fix a bug that the competition would get ahead of me. I’d fail, my company would fail, and I would be living in a cardboard box outside of Gelson’s, eating outdated cat food that I fished out of the dumpster.

I don’t worry about that any more. I did worry that, if I was not working all of the time, I would go stir crazy from boredom. In fact, I would not give my children more than 50-50 odds that before 4 days had passed, I would be back to working again. Actually, quite the opposite happened, with me waking up each morning without an alarm, which meant past 10 am, and thinking, “I could do another week or two of this.”

Seriously, I’m not sure I could spend every day reading the newspaper, writing blog posts, baking cookies and playing on the floor with my grandchildren. If that sounds mundane, let me remind you that the stuff other people do when they retire like teach college, serve on boards, pursue scientific research interests or travel are the things I already do. Busman’s holiday, anyone?

This week reminds me of when I first married Dennis. For the previous several years, I had been working multiple jobs while Ron was in and out of the hospital and after he passed away. There was my full-time job as a professor that covered the house payment, provided insurance and paid the utilities. There was my other full-time job as an evaluation consultant that paid everything else – car payment, tuition for private schools, clothes for three kids, swim team fees, etc. etc. Then, of course, there was driving the kids to soccer or swim meets, helping with their homework, doing the laundry and dishes, taking the dogs to the vet and everything else that comes with being a single parent to three young children.

“Working mothers talk about sleep the way starving people talk about food.”

– Caroline Bird, author of The two pay-check marriage

After I remarried and did not have to work as much any more, I slept 12 hours a night for the first couple of months. Eventually, I caught up on my sleep and went back to a more normal routine.

I suspect, if I took a few weeks off work, it would be the same. I’d have enough of reading mystery novels, going for long walks with my dog and sleeping in. After that, I’d probably go back to working full time but take weekends off.

Maybe. Perhaps I’ll try it some time and find out.

On the positive side, I am not dreading going back to work on Wednesday at all, so that says something positive about my current situation.

If I had any insight at all from the past few days, it’s this – It’s good to stop now and then and make a conscious decision whether or not you want to keep going in the same direction.

Similar Posts