I recently had an epiphany. I had a life changing “a-ha!” that gave me a newfound perspective on my life. It may be one that seems pedestrian or even obvious, but sometimes you need to actually stop and think instead of forging ahead without considering all sides.
Over the past few weeks I have been exposed to numerous opportunities for involvement; involvement in the business community, involvement in my temple, involvement in charities, involvement in business development… there are so many ways to get involved.
Everywhere we look there are ways to get involved, there are people who want to get you involved, and there are interests in which you want to get involved. But I have a stark reality for you. You cannot do it all.
I used to be amazed and a little envious of the people who seemed to be everywhere. They just seemed to be involved in everything, whether it be at the temple, the chamber of commerce, the PTA… they were on the newsletter committee, the building fund committee, the fundraising committee, the enterprise zone committee, the community expansion committee, the parks and recreation committee, the ice cream social committee… the list was endless and they were everywhere.
I have a need, my friends, to contribute; a desire and an urge to help, to be involved, and to give of my time and my energies, as well as a fundamental inability to say no. So seeing the same people contributing in so many ways excited me—it can be done, it appeared to me.
But those people who were so involved, it isn’t rude to say that they are significantly older than me. Their kids are older and out of the house, their careers are already well developed and defined, they can afford to be in committee meetings every night.
Me? I have a wife and two little ones at home, three reasons to come home every night at a reasonable time to help with homework, change a diaper or two, and read bedtime stories. So given that, my outlook was erroneously focused.
You know how focusing on something happening can make you blind to everything else around you? For instance, you are so eager about going on vacation that you can’t concentrate on the tasks you have to complete before vacation begins. You are so excited for Saturday that you resent that it is only Monday.
Well, this was my failing. I became so energized about the future and the prospect of having the free time to volunteer and contribute, that I began to lose sight of where I am now. For one second (and it was one of those interminable seconds), I was actually eager for the future, when my children were out of the house and I could have the time to get involved in all of the ways to which I had aspired.
Like I told you, it seemed to be an endless second before the epiphany I mentioned hit me like a ton of bricks—in my excitement for the future, I lost sight of all of the great times I will have in the meantime. Why was I so excited for the day to come when I could volunteer, if it meant that I was losing focus on the moments I get to spend with my family?
I have been asked on many occasions to help, to give of my time, to give of my money, and to give of my efforts. And invariably, I said yes. I always felt like I wasn’t doing enough, like I wasn’t giving enough or helping enough or volunteering enough.
But now, I don’t feel that way. Sure, I would like to help, but not when it means that I will lose out on valuable time with my girls. This time I have with them, the time we have with our families, is fleeting. It will be over in the blink of an eye and we need to take every opportunity to enjoy that time with them.
So to my friends who are asking me to help, to give, and to contribute, I unfortunately have to say—yes, eventually, but not now. Now, my sole and singular focus is on helping, giving, and contributing to my family. You have to know that I deeply support you and your efforts and will give as much of my time and money as I can, but if it comes to joining your committee or championing your cause or running for your board of directors, I will do so, but only so long as it doesn’t take me away from my girls. If I feel that it will be too much of a time commitment, I will decline. It doesn’t mean I don’t care. It just means, you will have to wait. At some point, when my girls are out of the house and I am looking for activities to occupy my time, I am all yours…
But I no longer will be looking forward to those days with excitement. I am looking forward only to tomorrow.