“How was your day?” he asked. I groaned. He laughed.
Julio (name changed) and I were headed to band practice a few years ago. Julio didn’t have a car, so I’d pick him up in Greenwood and we’d head across the Aurora Bridge into West Seattle 1-2 times a week for rehearsals. We’d always talk about our days. Julio was (and still is) a great conversationalist.
I remember that day being particularly brutal. At the time, I was working at a company with a large volunteer corps. Several thousand, actually, spread across the globe. That’s not an exaggeration. I was in charge of them all. And whether it was fair or not, there were forces within the company that held me at least partially responsible for their actions. My weeks were full of meetings, policy documentation, program creation, and uncomfortable conversations to the tune of 55+ hours a week. I suppose what I was doing was important at some level to someone. I just mostly remember being exhausted and waking up at 4am with my mind ablaze.
Julio listened, nodded sympathetically. Julio is arguably the best guitarist I have ever played with. His intelligence simmers quietly behind kind eyes, and you don’t realized how capable he is until you find yourself in need of some skill or knowledge and invariably Julio has it. He could be a player in many arenas if he wanted. But he had chosen a simpler life. He works to make money to do what he wants to do. That’s enough.
His turn. “So, Julio, what did you do today?”
In his slow, thoughtful cadence, he recounted a day of getting up a bit late, playing guitar, making lunch in his small apartment, culminated by a walk down to the park. “I fed the bunnies”, he recounted, a small smile spreading across his face. It was clear that he enjoyed the experience.
Julio is not lazy. He’s a hard worker and not afraid to get his hands dirty. He is, however, doing what he wants to do. And on this day it was feeding the urban bunnies that live in our parks.
I like working hard. Just like the majority of the 99%, I am sure. But I also like having time for other pursuits. For a while there, the two were almost incompatible. The job demanded more and more, and I slept less. The pay was okay, but the pressure was nonstop. And forget having any time to feed the bunnies. You have more important things to do.
Until that evening, when Julio gently reminded me that there’s a big difference between what is important and what is necessary.
Getting to work by 6am? Late nights drafting documents? Postponing celebrations to hit deadlines? Hitting goals with limited budget? Endless forum management?
Necessary. It’s what I was hired to do. No surprises or regrets there.
Being able to sleep through the night? Hang out with friends? Create? Be spontaneous every now and then? Enjoy occasional moments of serenity? Feed the bunnies?
The company that was demanding so much of my time would soon reorganize and dissolve my position. Twice, in point of fact. All my hard work is now, at best, a footnote in a disused server somewhere.
Important? Probably not.
I still work hard. I put in 20-70 hours a week on music, depending what’s on the burner or if I’m on tour. I still sometimes wake up at 4am with my mind on fire. I still agonize over things that probably aren’t that meaningful.
But there’s time now. Time to do the important things. And that’s worth a lot.
I haven’t gotten to actually feeding the bunnies in the park yet.