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FIELD NOTES: A Lesson From The Cubby

There is a shelf, it's a cubby really, in our walk-in closet where I keep my everyday carry items; watch, change, wallet, pen, pocket knife, keys, etc. Invariably, when I empty my pockets at night, I dump any receipts, ticket stubs, scribbled notes, and candy wrappers I collected during the day onto that same shelf. Typically, I will gather all those up, sort the keepers and dispose of the trash every couple of weeks. 

For whatever reason, though, over the past few months, I let the pile grow without culling, and when I took advantage of this rainy weekend past to do some indoor projects, cleaning up that cubby was near the top of the list. 

As a general rule, I don't wax rhapsodic about cleaning out my closet, but as I was sorting through the debris, which by the nature of gravity and stacking was in roughly chronological order, I had an opportunity to revisit the highlights of what was a relatively normal summer after a couple of pandemic-induced outliers.   

The ticket stub from a Down East Wood Ducks game I attended as part of an economic development conference in Kinston; a receipt from The Fish House in Wrightsville Beach; a business card from an author I met at a street festival in Davidson; tickets from "Jurassic World: Dominion," and "Thor: Love and Thunder," and "Nope;" a sticker from Royal Bliss Brewing; a 3-day Ohio visitor fishing license. Precious reminders of how great life can be and how fragile it is. 

During a stage of my life I sometimes refer to as John 1.0 and sometimes call my "driven" phase, summers weren't extraordinary. For a good part of my middle years, I traveled extensively for work, rarely got home before 7 or 8 those nights I did sleep in my own bed, and went into the office every Saturday. I remember waking up one beautiful summer Saturday in what must have been '92 or '93 and spontaneously deciding to go to the beach instead of into the office. I felt like a degenerate bum the whole day. Mind you, Saturdays in the office weren't required; it was just a thing I did. 

In those days, going to see a single movie, sporting event, or concert over the course of an entire summer was a significant concession to leisure. In that sense, summer 1991 was "the summer of Terminator 2," and 1994 was "the summer of Gordon Lightfoot." The pandemic summers felt a little like that.

Do I regret working hard and making something of myself? Of course not. But looking over the receipts and ticket stubs of a rich and exciting summer of movies, concerts, craft breweries, and baseball games, I can't help but regret not finding a more reasonable work-life balance just a few years earlier.    



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