Why is it that in life we don’t notice when we are making progress especially when in the midst of doing? Many times I feel like I’m jogging on the spot while in someone else’s eyes I could be keeping a good pace in a marathon.
That’s how I felt recently when I met my good friend Wangari. Part of the halftime process advises that we get a personal board of directors to keep us informed of our progress or lack thereof. Folks who can hold you accountable in your journey to significance. Peter, the current chairman of my board at Happening Ventures once told me that an effective board member needs to have the ability to look within the organization from outside. Like a bird’s eye view of sorts. This insulates their view from being blurred by all the matope flying within the organization so they are able to offer clear direction for the organization’s future.
That’s what it felt like meeting Wangari. She is my best man’s sister in law and they were all here for their annual vacation from majuu. I last met with Wangari in 2014 when hurricane halftime was beginning to gain momentum and ripping my life apart. Wangari is a straight shooter (by the way why do we say such people shoot from the hip? Why not the shoulder). She has an independent, fierce mind that delivers her undiluted views. Still, she’s easy to listen to because her opinions are coming from a good place. I think if she didn’t relocate to Canada there’s a good chance she would be an activist here championing authentic living or something close.
We met at the Lavington Java for breakfast and talked nonstop. It’s not easy packing a five-year update into two hours. Wangari reminded me of chats we had in 2014 when I was consumed with sadness, desperation and negativity. I was an emotional wreck and my life felt like it was ending at 40 instead of beginning as we hear. When she was done taking me down memory lane, all I could do was pause for a long minute and sip my mocha as I processed the flashback. That period was in black and white because when I look back there was hardly any color I could see in my life.
When I zoned back into the present moment I realized just how much ground I had covered. Truly the greatest distance to cover is the twelve inches between the heart and the head. I appreciated this more when I started filling her in on what has transpired since 2014. It was a proper while-you-were-away update. Her reaction confirmed that this was not a waste of time and that my bamboo was still deepening its roots pole pole even when it was out of sight. Remember activists don’t sugar coat things so I took her uplifting review as approval that I should continue seeking the unknown and embrace interruptions in my life. They could very easily be introductions to the life of significance that I seek.
Wangari also reminded me that the journey could be the life and not a destination because we are constantly changing and so is life. We may never arrive. Maybe this bamboo that I’m waiting to break above ground has broken above already. Could I be seeing slightly further ahead because I’m seated on a small new branch on the bamboo tree?
Folks I think it’s a good idea to pause once in a while and look at the rear view mirror. This will show us how far we have come and hopefully inspire and motivate us to press on. It may also inform us to change course and make a U turn. Sometimes our progress is slowed down by lack of appreciation for how far we have come.
Wangari also shared her updates and I must admit she has gone through her own transitions and is now living a much more meaningful and satisfying life. I was intrigued at how she could clearly recall details of my midlife crisis yet she was going through her own stuff at the same time. Maybe it’s because she’s a woman so multitasking is not too hard.
I dropped her home after our hook up and we went our separate ways. On my way to town for my photography class, I felt upbeat and thought that maybe I should pat myself on the back every so often. But by way of a caveat, I think it’s good that I’m mostly blind to my own progress because I risk settling too early at the first sign of what looks like I’ve arrived.
So it’s a balance we must strike as we seek to answer the question, “Why are we here?” Let’s pause and take stock by looking back and appreciating gains made. This is done better by a close and true friend who maybe doesn’t meet you often. A personal board of directors. The time away makes the progress clearer to see. Maybe that’s why most boards meet once a quarter so as not to obstruct their view when looking inside the organization.
On the other hand, lets remain in the business of doing even when it feels like we labor in vain. As long as we are doing stuff that we sense is in line with our dreams then it’s worth the grind. I hope that when I meet Wangari next (hopefully in less than five years) she will confirm that I’m deep living in my calling and thriving at it. Keep at it good people.