This was the third year in a row I’ve spent on Lake Michigan with my family. The weekend came up at the perfect time: I finished my biggest month of work for Blue River (silage harvest) and for photography (show at the Civic Center). I went from the one of the longest work days I may ever have straight to an Amtrak train to Chicago and then to our lake house for the weekend. I celebrating by watching Nebraska win big, finishing a book that I said I would finish this summer (The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell), and of course, writing. But the best personal progress I made was in some thoughtful self-evaluation.
My Writing Spot on the Sunned-in Porch
Saturday morning, I went down to the beach. If I had learned anything from the last month, it was that I had a limited amount of time, and that if I was going to accomplish the goals I had, I had to set my priorities. To that end, I sat down on the beach and wrote out a set of goals that I wanted to accomplish that day and that weekend in terms of writing and people to contact. I didn’t accomplish all of them, but at least they were there, a reminder of untouched items needing my hand.
After everything I went through this month, I realized that if I’m going to accomplish the goals I want to, namely writing a novel and publishing my photographs, I’m going to have to have better organizational skills. I’m not a good organizer. If you would have looked at my life five years ago, you would have said I was anti-organizational. Likely, details and planning will never be my strengths, but I know that I can accomplish something through them.
Labor Day Weekend in southwest Michigan is a busy time. Lazy country roads are overpopulated, not unlike college game day in towns like Lincoln or Ames. There are usually two types: families on one last summer get-away, middle-aged-to-older couples in pleated shorts and polos. You walk the roads at your own peril, but the place goes dead quite late Monday night.
Our Beach House
Hitting the beaches and walking in the waves, I contemplated what I wanted my life to look like in a few year. The Tipping Point said that the human brain can handle only so many relationships at once, and I was pondering who I wanted to choose as friends. Too often, I operated from a low self-esteem position when it came to people and thus welcomed into my life people who were charming but had little beneath that charm. Even though I’ll never be as popular as I would have liked to be in high school, I still needed to seek out smart people to be around and learn from.
SW Michigan Shoreline
I had a good conversation with my sister that weekend too when she took me to get on the train at New Buffalo. She’s in a new position in her job, and it was great to swap stories over dealing with personnel issues. As my train rolled into Chicago, I openly wondered, If I lived in this city, who would I be? Would it be the right place for me?
Now that I’m back here in the thick of things, I realize how much lists matter and how much goals matter. Last night, it was 8:30 when I came back to the house from retrieving my mother’s phone. I played video games, but it kept nagging me that I hadn’t sent any e-mails out to potential employers. I realized that an extra half-an-hour in the evening doing little things was more important than another game of Call of Duty Zombies.