I’m now officially 4 days in to a 2 week business trip in the Netherlands. One wouldn’t think this is the time or the place to “find oneself”, yet here I am. As fun and unique as a trip to Europe is (I’ll be in Paris for a weekend day), the business part of the trip is certainly palpable. 12-hour work days, no time for lunch, working for Europe during the day and North America at night. International conference calls at odd hours racking up phone bills and data charges for someone other than me. Get back to the hotel, change, pound some beers with dinner, bang out a few emails before bed, crash. Repeat ad nausem.
Yet here’s the thing I can’t shake: I thrive in this environment, and I’m damn good at it. It’s what got me here in the first place, over 4,000 miles from home solo on a trip to a facility I’ve never been to in a country just as foreign. The reputation of a leader who “gets shit done” both honestly and fairly. The ability to negotiate a salary I never thought I’d see in my life, enough to support my family on one income and give my son the same gift I had as a child – a parent at home during those critical early years. To put it simply, when I have no one to account for but myself, I can kick some serious ass.
But then my wife sends me a photo of my smiling baby boy rocking out on my drum set at home, and the contrast jolts me back to reality. The important things are now incredibly clear. I am alone in this hotel room. The trip doesn’t matter. Me making money for some company that cares as much about me as they do about solving world hunger doesn’t matter. Is it necessary? Absolutely. Is it the most important? To some, but not to me. I do this to support my family and give us the privileged freedom of not having to worry about financial security (this itself is a rarity in these times, I am soberingly aware). Suddenly, all I want more than anything in the world is to fly home and hug my wife and son.
Sometimes it takes being away to truly understand what matters. Being a father, having a family, being connected to a community, these are things that I want more. Feel-good story of the year, right? Not exactly. I have not been the best father to my son and I’ve been a downright shitty husband to my wife. I’ve taken this for granted for years, all while driving my family, the ones I love most, to the brink of disintegration. What will it take for me to right the ship and actually show the love I profess to have? Actions will always speak louder than words, whether spoken or typed, although there is something strangely cathartic about the public admission of it all. Let’s hope I’m on to something and can finally atone. 10 more days.