Every once in a while I have one of those weeks at the office that reminds me of what every week at the office was like twenty years ago. Tons of appointments, incessant telephone calls, mountains of paperwork, way too much interaction with customer service phone trees. It makes me wonder how I ever survived it all back then. It also makes me extraordinarily thankful that I did. This enterprise I have built over the past thirty five years has been rewarding, but today it looks very different than I thought it would look by this time thirty years ago. I thought that I would have a larger payroll and perhaps a few more pieces of beach/lakefront property. But, fourteen years ago, after surprise open heart surgery, my career ark was dramatically altered. Maybe it was an overreaction, perhaps I made a mistake, but that experience kicked me out of the grow, grow, more, more club permanently. When suddenly, some strange man cuts you open and starts tinkering with your heart, priorities tend to become less oriented around the pursuit of wealth, and more towards the pursuit of life.
So, I dialed it back. I started taking fewer new clients. I centered my goals around taking more time off each year. The payoff has been a smaller portfolio, but a vastly larger amount of freedom. My business is not the all consuming machine that many private businesses become, so much so that when something like this week happens, it's the startling exception. Whenever I begin to complain about something work related, my wife reminds me of how fortunate I am. She's right.
Speaking of good fortune, my son and his girlfriend are headed to Short Pump from Nashville as I write these words. Patrick will be staying with us all of next week, working remotely, while Sarah will continue on to Princeton, New Jersey to attend a vocal pedagogy conference at Westminster Choir College. It will be the first time Patrick will have slept in his old room for an entire week since the summer of his sophomore year at Belmont! Finally, the kid's wing of the house will get some use. Lucy will be thrilled.
This coming Sunday we will be hosting a farewell party for two of our oldest and dearest friends, Rick and Linda Stroup. They have retired, and are relocating to the beautiful college town of Wake Forest, North Carolina. It will be difficult watching them leave. They have been a part of our family for 28 years now. Their daughter, Jessica, felt like one of my own children back in the day, and my kids considered her their sister. Friends are great, but every so often you make a lifetime friend. Those, you never replace. The fact that they will no longer live around the corner will feel like a loss. But, it's not like they are moving to Burma or anything...Wake Forest is just a couple of hours down the road. Still, we will miss them. So, they must be sent off properly. I am so thankful that Patrick will be here for the party. They have always loved my boy very well.