Roses and Time

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A few weekends ago my good friend from Australia, who I wrote about here, and his wife stopped by the Bay Area for a couple of days on their way to New York. Given that my daughter was celebrating her 9th birthday by hosting a sleepover at our house(it actually wasn’t as bad as I had feared!) I didn’t get to spend much time with them that Saturday. However, thanks to the generosity of my wife, I was able to spend all of Sunday with my friends. We went from the observation deck of the Lawrence Hall of Science (where, incidentally, I proposed to my wife) to the Marin Headlands to North Beach and Chinatown in San Francisco. I enjoyed playing tour guide, and also just getting hours to walk around, and talk with my friend and his wife.

What most struck me was the couple of hours spent at Vesuvio in North Beach. I occasionally meet friends for a beer in the evening from time to time, but this was different. Being able to sit and talk knowing we had many hours before having to be at the airport was so liberating. It had been a bit chilly outside, so it felt great to sit in a warm comfortable room, with interesting stained glass and a great overall feel. It brought to mind the international trips I used to take with my wife before we had kids. During those trips it felt like we had all the time in the world and could just relax into where ever we were. An image has stayed with me, of me and my wife at a Spanish cafe in Melbourne, Australia during our trip in 2001. There was a stained glass window above the door with an image of a red rose. We had stopped in to get a quick bite but it started pouring outside, so we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon there. The joy wasn’t necessarily in drinking alcohol, but rather being able to talk, laugh, eat, listen to the music playing on the stereo and not have any worries at the moment. Those couple of hours with my friends at Vesuvio brought back some that feeling, and I realized I missed having those carefree periods of time and the chance to really be present with people. I was feeling connected again.

That feeling of connection and happiness was short lived; the next day I was triggered by a meeting with former colleagues. Seeing how much more productive and creative in work these people were made me question what I was doing. I sat with that for a day, then started questioning whether I would ever get my act together career-wise, and how I would probably never be able to buy a house, and what did that say about the professional side of my life, and so on down the tubes of misery.

As usual I can recognize that this is the depression speaking, but on some level I think it serves a purpose. I’m over 40, and even though I don’t work in Tech, where ageism is brutal, I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m running out of time and options. I’m worried that the efforts I make, such as a great online class I took from Samantha Sutton PhD, don’t carry over because I lack the follow through. I’m taking some steps, such as setting up informational interviews, but it’s much easier to focus on the immediate tasks on hand I have to do for work, than to step outside my comfort zone and explore the unknown so everything seems to get pushed back. I’m not sure where to go next in this process, but I need to start moving.

Since then my feelings about work have gone up and down, I’ve gone from an intense pride and love of my kids to exasperation and annoyance, and back. I feel like I float between my various projects and responsibilities and have a hard time feeling grounded. I’m just not sure what do, and generally fear that everything will be too hard(and I’ve noticed that I tend to shy away from things that I think will take too much mental energy).

I want to find a way to more often feel at peace and connected, be able to enjoy the people in my life and their company and to feel relaxed. I want to be able to carry this with me where ever I happen to be, even if it’s not in a cafe with roses of some sort in the window.