Just One Thing

Auburn Courthouse

Auburn Courthouse

I’m emerging from my cave to post these thoughts. For the past couple weeks, I have been spending too much time in that introvert zone I can easily find myself in when I’m deep in designing, coding and debugging, and the pile of work keeps growing outside only steps away. Since gaining entrance to this cave is only known to me, I can go weeks inside here working through the problems while thinking only a couple days have passed. It’s not until someone like Nicole reminds me that I’ve been gone for weeks that I suddenly start to realize just how much time has passed.  

Last Sunday, I ventured out for a 1/2 Marathon snowshoe race from Tahoe City to Northstar. I had never run in snowshoes before so with about 6′ of fresh snow I thought the experience would be interesting to say the least. The morning of the race brought everybody up to the mountains since the ski resorts had lots of new snow. What should have taken about 30 minutes in the car, instead took us 90 minutes to drive from Truckee to Tahoe City. I showed up at the start about 15 minutes after the starting gun had sounded (I only assume a starting gun was used). A couple of XC skiers pointed me in the right direction and in a few minutes, Nicole and Dylan dropped me off and I was actually running through the woods in snowshoes. I had one water bottle, the snow was gently falling and the temperature read 20 degrees. I’ll save the suspense since there was no come from behind and sprint to the finish for me. I did pass many of the starters while they must have been slowed by frozen water bottles and icy energy bars, but after 2 hours and 40 minutes of tripping over my own snowshoes and trying various hand stretches to keep my frozen fingers from falling off, I shuffled myself across the finish line and, through my thawing lips, tried to mutter my name and explain why I didn’t have a bib and how I had a late start. So, if I could subtract the 20-25 minutes I missed at the start (and I cannot), I should have finished around 5th (in the ballpark of 2:40), still far behind Peter Fain who set a blistering pace and finished in 2:09. Oh, here I go with the could’ve, should’ve, would’ve!  At mile 10, my legs were burning. His must have been on fire.  

And while I have been hunkering deep in my cave, the realization that has hit me many times before has hit me again. It’s a lesson I learned when I first saw City Slickers and Curly gave his secret to life speech: “Do you know what the secret to life is?” As he points his finger at Mitch. And then he reveals the secret: “One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean s***.” The problem with the one thing is that there are too many inputs these days. Sure when you are out on the range and under the stars that one thing might just be sharing the dream with the love of your life while a good pot of coffee brews over the fire. Tmes like that make it easy to focus, but now more than ever, we live in a time where we’re always on, always connected, constantly consuming and there are too many things fighting for our time and attention. We know that technology has provided us with incredible advancement but I wonder if we will we look back at this period and question how much of our life was spent inputting our time into a machine that will never return that time to us? We convince ourselves of how much time we are saving with technology, but at what cost? There’s a line we can walk but too often I find myself having crossed the line and wandering in the virtual world not realizing it is inferior to the real world that I once lived. And I don’t even play computer games or watch TV.  

This past Wednesday, I came home from work and around 9 PM watched the Apple presentation of the iPad (didn’t I just tell you that I don’t watch TV) and started smiling at the unrelenting cycle we have created and continue to foster. We must keep reinventing and improving and building. It’s like at the same moment, we must be happy but not satisfied and keep working to improve ourselves, our relationships, our life, our product. We must keep improving and refining. We must keep getting faster. For me, it can be a never ending cycle of chasing my shadow through the seasons, year after year, and every now and then asking myself, “What have you done for me lately?”  

So on que, Friday two nice young men in black suits knocked on our front door and were about to tell me the secret to the one thing. I politely said I wasn’t going to waste their time or mine.   

We must not be afraid to simply enjoy the day for what it is. Enjoy the time for this is the time we have. And have the courage to live and stay hungry for life. Like Curly, I can’t tell you what that one thing is but make sure you are doing what you love. If you haven’t seen Steve Jobs’ speech at Stanford, spend about 15 minutes and watch it now.  

The picture for this post is of the Auburn Courthouse and it is something I often pass during my runs, sometimes at night and sometimes during the day. Like the Amazon Archers, I just wanted to share a picture of what I often see and where my feet take me. The sky shone its dimming light on our courthouse when Dylan and I passed by tonight and I was happy to capture the scene. I’m all over the place in this one.

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3 thoughts on “Just One Thing

  1. I was just saying that yesterday, “How’d I get so busy?” That “one thing” for me this year is to “simplify.” Also, staying present with tasks but more so with people. Decrease clutter. Improve my systems – always looking for places to refine. Plan. Plan. Plan. Do the most important things first. Maybe read “The 7 Habits” again. Trying to stick to the fundamentals too (diet, hydration, sleep).

    I’ve scheduled viewing Job’s speech into my planner. I’m viewing it tomorrow evening around 7:30.

    Nice job on your snowshoe excursion. Sounds fun!

  2. Thanks for the reminder to simplify. Sometime when things are simple, I feel like I’m missing out on some of the excitement. Come over for some snowshoe’ing. It’s just like trail running but in freezing temps and you can’t run shoeless. Sort of like your Sierra Nevada run last September.

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