What's It All About, Alfie?
You know how certain things in life happen and the moment sticks with you forever? How you can remember all the finite details of what was happening around you when it occurred? This was one of those moments for me.
For many of you, this is probably not the first time you’ve seen or heard this question. It’s from a movie after all. But for me, it was when I heard it that made all the difference. Allow me to set the stage:
It was a Friday afternoon in the Spring of 1999. I remember it being a Friday because the assignment was to think on this question over the weekend and be prepared to write about it on Monday. The sun was out. I remember that because we had baseball practice and I was looking forward to it. The class was Mr. Martin’s sophomore english class. He had this habit of sitting in front of the class with his chair turned around backwards as he spoke to us. As the class and day wound to an end, he finished his last thought and said “What’s it all about, Alfie? I want you all to think on that and we’ll see you Monday”. Bell rang. Class dismissed. Little did Mr. Martin know that for me that weekend, would last a life time.
What’s it all about? Careful, let yourself go and you could be lost for hours. And yet, I urge you to let yourself go. For those close to me, you can probably tell every time I’m asking myself this question. It has a way of reeling me in and immediately putting into perspective, what’s truly important. What…it’s really about. With that in mind, here are some recent examples of what I think it’s truly all about.
This past Wednesday, I had the pleasure of attending the Manchester, NH Boys & Girls Club annual breakfast. It’s the second one I’ve been to and in both cases, I left with the same feeling. An impressive group of over 700 people, gathered in a room, celebrating a club where volunteers poor their heart and soul into kids. Any kids. All kids. Regardless of status, color, race or gender. They adopt these kids and make an incredible difference in their lives. And my favorite part, it’s not the volunteers telling all the stories. It’s the kids. It’s their parents who are working 2 jobs to support the family. They are the ones bragging about what the club does for them. Making a positive impact on other people’s lives, especially if they are kids, that is what it’s all about.
I never joined an armed service. Now 31, it’s quickly becoming one of my greater regrets in life. Not a regret felt out of guilt or longing for a fight. But a regret that has developed as I have aged and come to appreciate how fortunate we are to live where we do. As Americans. I’m not saying we’re perfect. In fact, we have a lot of challenges that need solving. But thanks to millions of brave men and women, we are able to enjoy certain privileges that much of the worlds population does not. So maybe it actually is a little bit of guilt. Those men and women inspire me. They laid it all on the line for someone they’ve never met, me & you. That and they, are what it’s all about.
In March, I joined a few of the Dyn team and attended my first South by South West (SXSW) in Austin, TX. If you’re a tech, music, movie or comedy buff, put it on your bucket list. Austin is a great city and SXSW does it right. I was blown away. But what really captivated me was the innovation that exists around the world. And while some TV shows (for the Newsroom fans out there) may suggest that the younger generation is part of the “Worst. Generation. Ever.”, that was not the case in Austin. We sponsored an accelerator event where early stage start-ups were given the opportunity to pitch their businesses in front of a panel of judges in an effort to gain recognition and funding for their idea. One of the groups pitching within Science & Technology was a group of millennials who have created a 3D printer, capable of using our own DNA & cells to print organs as needed. It’s incredible. They are changing the world with their idea. That, is what it’s all about.
Finally, when we welcomed Taylor Grace to the family in December, her entrance to the world did not match the middle name we gave her. Or in hindsight, perhaps it did. The thought was that it would be a forever reminder to be “Grace under pressure” and not necessarily how coordinated she was expected to be. So maybe the jokes on us. Because during that first week, we all needed a lesson on how to handle pressure. A full week in the NICU will force you to think about your priorities. There were 2 things that stood out during this time. First, remember those people I told you about in the last post that we’re surrounded by that have made all the difference? They show up in this story to. We have a core set of family and friends that will go to the end of the earth for us. I hope they know the same goes in return. They gave us the strength to survive that week. Second, crammed into that tiny room just the 3 of us, I realized there was nothing more important in life than this family. So while only a week old, maybe I have Taylor to thank. Her rough entrance to this world brought the three of us as close together as any 3 people can be. And that, is what it’s all about.
So what’s my point? The answer to that question “What’s it all about”, is that it’s different and customizable for each of us. Take time to understand what inspires you and what your priorities are. Then align your life around those priorities and constantly ask yourself, “What’s it all about?”. I promise, it will give you just a tiny bit of perspective and help you focus on stressing about only that of which is worth stressing about.