A Goodbye

Today I made a decision that I’ve been putting off for a while now.  I said goodbye to some old friends.  I have, since the game came out, been playing Sim2.  I know that it may seem silly that I refer to characters in a game as friends.  But for almost six years I’ve watched characters grow and get jobs and have families.  For some of the families in the game I am on a 4th generation.

I’ve lost a few to accidents, like lightning strikes.  I’ve had one couple that could not get pregnant no matter what I did.  Other characters wouldn’t be happy no matter what accommodations I made for them.  Some were so easy that it was a joy to play with them.

The problem, for me, is that playing the game could easily eat up hours of my day.  For me there was no such thing as a couple of hours of play.  And in a life where I am trying to find a balance between my self, my family and my work, a component that trumps all those efforts and throws everything out of balance is not pleasant company.

And so today I uninstalled the game.  Not because I didn’t enjoy playing the game.  And not because I don’t still feel an affinity for the characters.  But because I don’t imagine that at the end of my life I will think, “man, I should have played more video games.”

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The Dog Lost and Found

OK.  So one of the things that happened last month is that one of our dogs, Abbie, got out of the fence.  Usually when this happens there is a routine.  Step one, a spurt of running around by the dog who is all but chanting “nanny nanny booboo.”   Step two, a fly by of whichever one of us standing in the front yard.  Step three, said dog plops herself down in front of us because she is so excited that the only thing that will make it better is a belly scritch.  That is usually the point at which, of course, she is taken back to the fenced portion of the yard.  This is the usual pattern.  This is not what happened this time.

Sometime around Bean’s bath time she pushed her way through a weak spot in a gate.  We didn’t realize that she was gone until went to bring in the dogs back in. It was beginning to rain so JD grabbed an umbrella and walked around the block calling her.  Then the Deluge began and he came back.  Before bed he drove around a larger section of our neighborhood hoping to spot her, but couldn’t see anything in the downpour.  And so we went to bed with a firm plan in place about the next day, hoping she wouldn’t become an ex-dog overnight.

We get up, hoping that she has come back.  Nope.  In the meantime her sister is freaking out, which is really what made me anxious.  I wondered if she knew something i didn’t.  So when I get to work I call all the local vets near the house, and all the county shelters in the metro area and leave my name and number.

Let me also say that this was the week at work where everyone at work was either sick or on vacation.  There were, I’m not kidding, 2/3rds of my department missing.  So when, sometime mid morning, I got a call from the shelter nearest to my house saying “we think we have your dog, can you come get her so we don’t have to process her and save yourself 40 dollars” all I could say was, “yup that’s my dog” and “no I can’t leave yet.”

I was finally able to get free mid afternoon.  But, before I could get the dog I had to first go to the vet to get proof of rabies vaccination (her tags had been lost sometime during the night), go to the ATM to get some cash, and then go to city hall and pay my leash law fine.  Only once the had all receipts in hand could I go get my errant dog.

The funniest part of this entire adventure is how she ended up at the shelter.  I asked if there was report that said where she had been found.  I was curious about how far she had gotten.  The person at that shelter said “sure, let me see, it was [insert name of my street here].”  I just laughed at that.  My street is barely a block long so it is entirely feasible that my errant dog was less errant than I thought.  In fact, I would not be surprised at all if she was sitting in our front yard when a nice, well meaning couple with a baby walked by and noticed a random dog with a collar but no tags.  And my dog, being a friendly sort, was like “Hey people!  You got treats?”,  leaving her own yard to go with them.

Lessons learned?  We now have a new gate and collars with identification riveted on them are on order.

Searching for Happy

When I heard today the Steve Jobs had died, I thought to myself that he must have been much sicker than he let on. And I also thought about how much he must have loved his job to keep going back to it everyday while still sick. I had a similar thought several years ago when I watched Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture. How lovely it must be to go do something everyday but not measure it against every other thing you could be doing with your life and find it wanting.

At the time of Pausch’s lecture, I was going through some huge Changes in my life and dealing with it poorly. I searched desperately for advice of finding happiness. I found that I wasn’t the only one out there struggling with the idea of “happiness.” I discovered Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project, which has since become a book. I found David Nettle’s book, Happiness: The Science Behind Your Smile, which studied what makes people happy and came up with some surprising answers. There was Happiness: A History, by Darrin M. McMahon, which took a look at what “happy” even means given a time and a culture.  Then there was the surprising article in the Atlantic, about the Grant Study,  a 72 year study of 268 men.

This is just a small selection of what I found.  There were literally hundreds of blog posts from people all wondering the same thing, “How can I be happy?  I’m not happy?”

Twistedly, it seems we are all searching for a moving target.  The definition and measurements are different for every person.  Yet we can’t help but contrast our lives against those of others.  We desperately want a map, but really all we get is a wave toward a vague direction.

If anything, Jobs’ Commencement address and Pausch’s Lecture, remind us that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  The willingness of Jobs and Pausch to be open about where they struggled and lost and where they struggled and won, gives us all a chance to see how a vague direction will still get you to where you need to go.  By sharing, not a road map, but some possible landmarks, Jobs and Pausch remind us that in the end we alone sit in judgement of our lives.

In his Commencement address, Jobs said an now frequently quoted line, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”  And all I can say in response is “I’m trying.  Thanks for the landmark.”

Off the map?

I want to start by apologizing for disappearing. The start-up to the semester has been busier than I expected. Also, I have been obsessing mulling over a couple of big T truths in my life. When I do that, I have tendency to withdraw a bit. Unfortunately that has meant that I can also get caught in myself, all whirling dervish and no perspective. Yet I am happy to report that I and have finally come to resting point with them. No answers yet, mind you, but at least a resting place.

I cannot wait to catch you up on some of the stuff that has been going on. But for now I must hurry into Costco. The tires need rotating and the three cups
of coffee have hit never-recovered-from-pregnancy bladder pretty hard.