It’s been a good 24 hours.
Yesterday morning I worked for a few hours, cranking away at the computer creating some copy for a client. Then my son and I went to Bennington and he took his drivers test and walked out of the DMV with a shiny new driver’s license and a new sense of freedom. He’s worked hard at it, hard at being a good driver, hard at earning my trust and it was a big day. Then it was down to Massachusetts to have dinner with the woman I love. It was a simple night. A few hours eating Chinese food and talking about kids, work, friends, futures. We went for a walk. Simple, ordinary things. Beautiful things.
This morning I went back to work again. Recently I converted all my business and accounting operations to a cloud based system called 17Hats that was supposed to automate a lot of things that I have done manually in my one man operation. I went “live” with it this month, sent out some invoices, set up a couple of meetings, and when I checked in this morning, all the invoices were paid and in the bank. Bada bing bada boom. All automatic. The people in the diner where I am having coffee had to suffer me doing a little happy dance.
And then it hit me.
I am really boring.
I wasn’t always boring. I used to be kind of a high-powered salesman/executive type. I juggled big multi-million dollar projects, built big companies, was a leader in good sized churches, traveled constantly, was always on the front edge of dealing with other’s catastrophes and issues. Send me to a cocktail party? I had things to say. Crisis of the week just hit? Send it to Atkins. I was the fixer. DC. New York. Atlanta, here I came.
Now, I live in a little town in Vermont. And I like it. I have a one man business that deals less in multimillion dollar, high profile projects than in the progress of people’s hopes and dreams. I pastor a couple of tiny little churches that most people in the state will never hear of. I read a lot. I paint some. I write some. I go for walks. I go to dinner. I cheerlead my kids a bit. I plant flowers. I pet my cat.
I am boring.
I warned my kids when they came up here to live with me: “I am boring, but I am consistent.” I am pretty sure I lived up to both sides of that promise.
And I am OK with that.
Here’s what I have learned. When I was what my therapist once called “The Man in the Suit.” I may have thought I was something more, but what I was, was less approachable, less deep, less strong. I was dealing more with other’s issues and problems and organizations than people. I was dealing more with other’s issues and problem than my own soul. And I was becoming pretty mal-nourished as a person. Because we all need connection. We need people. Even a die-hard introvert like me. In fact, we introvert types probably need that connection more than our extroverted brethren (although in small doses.).
As a boring guy, I don’t intimidate any one. I like that. I don’t impress anyone. I am OK with that. I have fewer connections, but the ones I have are deeper. I am totally OK with that. I don’t get much adrenaline these days. Can you say “ahhhhhhhh”?
My kids won’t stay here in Vermont. They have lives to live. Adventures to follow. And I love that they are following them. My quiet, dull, consistency has had value, great value for them at a point in their lives when they desperately needed it. It gave them a safe, always loved kind of place to grow their wings and launch off from. One is off and flying. The other will be before long. They don’t much about the world yet, but they know they have a place where they are always loved. A safe place. That has more value than most of us realize.
I am a writer, good, with a small following, but don’t expect to see me on Fallon any time soon. Oprah’s not knocking at my door for her book club. I paint. Much to my surprise people buy my paintings. But I’m a few years yet from being in MOMA. I am Christian, but not the kind that rages and gets headlines on either the conservative or liberal side, I am a Methodist for heaven’s sake, the one denomination that Garrison Keillor used to say was “nearly as dull as Lutherans.” (I kinda like Lutherans, Figures huh?) I go to art museums. I like opera and the blues. I read detective novels and strange nerdy stuff (Right now, I am reading a book about Budapest in 1900. Are you snoring yet?)
But here’s what I learned. I know a lot of boring people. And they aren’t boring at all. They have depth, most of them. I learn odd snippets from them. From some, I am forced to look at things in my world differently. They are mostly approachable. Prick one and they will talk your ear off and you’ll come out knowing all kinds of strange and wonderful facts. Dig into one and you find they have amazing stories, quiet stories, passionate stories. I am constantly stunned at the depth of so-called boring people.
All it takes is a question, and then real listening, and the stories flow.
Having lived in the world of adrenaline and lived in my boring little world here in Vermont, I found more depth in the quiet people I never noticed before, than I ever found in the high pressure, high profile, high powered bunch that surrounded me in the past.
My only hope is that as I get more boring, I am acquiring that same kind of depth. That my stories will impact the few people I reach in good and deep ways.
Otherwise, I’ve wasted a lot of boringness over the past few years.
And that would be a shame.
Be well. Travel Wisely,