I’m flying back from Israel, where I spent the past week at our office in Tel Aviv. I’m 5 miles up, and according to the map on the screen in the seat in front of me, we are somewhere over southern Canada. The sun slowly sank below the horizon an hour ago. But when you fly west, it just hangs around for hours. One time, flying back from Iceland, it set, and then came back up again before setting for good.
I left Boston last Friday night after what charitably can be called a really tough week. The snow in town was murder. The Sandwich Generation demands were the usual juggling act. More than that, I endured a week at work that, for the first time since I started, made me question what I’m doing and whether or not I wanted to keep doing it. So, leaving on Friday night and then being away from my family all weekend was not something I could get too excited about.
But, having been amongst the palm trees in Israel for a week, I feel more like myself than I have in a while. Mostly because I was able to slow down.
I read an interview recently with Lululemon’s founder where he talks about giving his customers an idealized version of themselves. That idealized version a woman, who among other things, is in her early 30’s who earns great money, owns her own apartment, and has plenty of time to work out every day. Women in their 20’s want to be her someday, and women in their 40’s wish they could be her again.
Although I didn’t become female this past week, I got to live out most of this fantasy. My life was simple. I missed my family and my father, but honestly, it was great to be just me for a week. I had plenty of time to work out, including running and swimming outdoors, which I really miss in the Boston winters. I went out with co-workers 3 nights out of 4, then came home and caught up on email. Stop and read that again – I got CAUGHT… UP… on email. That never happens.
Only when you stop being Sandwiched for a week do you really realize how draining it can be.
My commute was cut from 50 minutes including fighting either traffic or a crowded train, to a 25 minute taxi ride. Every morning I caught that cab at Cafe Xoho, the cool coffee shop 5 blocks from my hotel where I would have a cappuccino and a muffin while getting a jump on the day. It struck me that I lose almost 2 hours a day to commuting back home. When I was able to cut that by an hour, I could re-invest that hour back into not being rushed all the time.
So now I am headed back to that life. We are probably over Maine by now, although because the map is broken, all I can see is that I’m on planet Earth. Fair enough. Out my window I can see that the sky is turning a deep beautiful orange in a corner that is slowly shrinking. It has been wonderful to have a week, even one that I was not looking forward to, where I can appreciate the sky as it turns from blue to orange. Now the challenge is to find a way to sustain this final moment as I return to my family, my father, my job, and everything else that defines my Sandwiched Man existence.