In the early nineties, I walked with my daughter home from her kindergarten, we talked about her day, it was late afternoon, it had been a long day for her already and she was tired. She asked if she could get up on my shoulders, I lifted her up, picked her bag from the sidewalk and we continued home.
“Daddy, can you still carry me on your shoulders when I become a big girl?”, she asked.
“Honey Bunny, I’ll always be able to carry you on my shoulders”, I answered, without knowing just how much I later on in life would think back on that walk home.
Choices, we face them constantly, thousands of them every day, all from superficial choices; should I pass the other pedestrian on the left or the right side.
Over to the ones where we catch ourself actually thinking before choosing; career and job changes, choice of lifestyle, choices we need to plan for and plan with.
Ending at the very deep ones that make scars for eternity; life, death, family extension and reduction etc.
And don’t get me wrong, scars can indeed be beautiful too, they, with the choices in life, become a part of one’s identity.
Some choices are made so many times that they over time become superficial, and they too become a part of one’s identity.
Our identity is judged up on what we chose to do in life, not what we say we will do in life.
Years before the short opening-conversation with my daughter took place, I’d, among many made in life, made a choice regarding looking after myself, a choice that for me meant investing more in life, than enriching myself.
I’d started a new job, it was physically hard, it was outside the whole year, constant changing locations, long days or nights. The result was clear on the previous generation we youngsters came to assist, or replace, they all had various signs of wear and tear; elbow, knee, hip and back problems.
My choice was to prevent ending up with likewise damages to my body, my choice was to make sure I exercised similar to my movements at work, to strengthening my body before it got damaged.
It meant doing work-outs after work ended, or before it started, sometimes after a 14-hour work day (12 hours work and one hour each end for transport), occasionally improvising when away from everything else, I still chose a daily work-out as an investment in life.
Over the years I’ve been working in all thinkable environments; rainforests, deserts, the arctic, off-shore, savannah, in areas undergoing war, civil war, in confined regions due to outbreak of various epidemics, or due to strict curfew regulations etc. The whole nine yards if you want, and I’ve always been able to find a way to be physical active. Despite it being a security lock-down in a 4m2 tent, a desert with only sand for a thousand km in each direction, or on the icecap far north of the Polar Circle in Greenland.
Sometimes it has been running, if the environment allowed it, skip roping if running wasn’t an option, doing push-ups in my tent next to my bed etc., I never failed that choice.
Beside the obviously physical benefit of that choice, it also gave a mental strength to be such places for longer periods without being affected by the lack of things taken for granted in life.
And mentioning work, which has always been a huge part of my life, there I’ve really had to make choices, not all pleasant, but most of the times necessary to gain “that” more experience in life and work. “That” more experience I refer to be the one that could take me to the next level in my work career, from where I again could gain more experience etc., ending with today’s product that can only be classified as Handy.
That choice, to constantly be seeking new work-related challenges, of cause comes at a price, I’ve certainly missed a lot in life due to the way I chose to live and work, let alone where in the world I chose to work.
Do I miss those things? Nope, I cannot miss things I never had or experienced.
Would I have liked to be a part of those things? Absolutely, I would have loved to be a part of all them many things, but I’m also realistic, I know I can do everything, I just cannot do them all.
That’s where the choices taken sometimes have hit me, hard, sitting far away from it all and realising that I just faced a textbook example of Bad Judgement. On the positive side; “Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment”
Am I never lonely when away from everything/everyone? Nope, but indeed I spend a lot of time alone, and there’s a difference between loneliness and being alone, the last is by choice.
A good friend of mine, one that does magic with her hands when it comes to healing overworked and stressed bodies, posted some months ago the following on Instagram;
“You come home, make some tea, sit down in your
armchair and all around you there is silence.
Everyone decides for themselves weather
that is loneliness or freedom”
That simply sums up life, choices and decisions, it’s all in our own hands how we want to live and how we want to look up on life. And above verse, for me, screams out freedom. Freedom is priceless.
Another impact the work-related choices have had is of cause the financial part; the years outside Denmark, the jobs that went south and ended up with no pay check, the volunteer work and the lack of pension schemes clearly shows when compared to my old colleagues.
Two things differentiate us; I might not have the same amount of funds available as them whenever I retire, but I won’t have the same expenses either to deal with.
And secondly, I will retire in a much better stage health wise, so I will be able to continue live and act as I do today, maybe slightly reduced though.
To live as I do today and not have any aching parts of my body is the number one pay-back from my choice of investing in life made so many years ago, and yes; I can still carry my daughter on my shoulders if need be.
When investing in life, diet is obviously an important part too, and without going in too many details I will try to make it short.
You are what you eat.
You eat what you buy.
Stop buying shite.
By using the philosophy “You have to burn it before you can earn it”, I’ve managed to stay within the better part of an average healthy Danish person. It simply works so that if I haven’t put the hours into the workout I cannot consume that extra pudding, pizza or Pepsi.
I guess I would have to run more than a thousand miles to qualify for a Pepsi, whereas all I need to do to qualify for a Coca Cola is to wake up in the morning. (I’m not paid to say that)
Do I drink Coke? Yes, I do.
Do I always qualify for the Coke? No, not always, rarely actually, but that’s my lot in life, that’s where I sin, or at least the one sin I do not try to hide.
The philosophy with earn and burn, do I always live by that? Of cause not, lots of places I’ve worked I’ve had no influence over what I have been served, only the choice to eat it or leave it. But as I have also had a job to do, I’ve had to eat what was served, well knowing that it wasn’t a good choice for my body. Nevertheless, it has always been temporary, rarely exceeding more than a couple of years at the time. Once in Rwanda I gained 15 kilos in three months, only by drinking boiled fat cowmilk with tealeaves and sugar all day long, it was that or dried cassava, which I never learned to enjoy. I knew it was temporary, when the environment allowed it, I would choose to take control again.
Life usual give you three choices, the right ones, the ones with room for improvements and the bad ones; aim for the right ones, if you miss, don’t settle for the one in the middle, aim again, and again, and you’ll end up hitting the right one.
“No one can choose to go back to get a new start, everyone can choose to start today and make a new ending”
Take ownership of your choices, not your circumstances.
When I look at my granddaughter today, I know that in some few years I will be walking her home from her kindergarten, I also know that one of those days she will be tired and ask if she can get up on my shoulders. I know then, that the choice I made those many years ago was, for me, the right one, for without any second thoughts I will pick her up. And if she’s not too tired we will take a detour home, and to be able to do that at my age, is for me priceless in so many ways.