Much of life, I have found, is just simply keeping up. The first ten years was not mine to control. The second 10 where awkward growth. I fell in line and struggled through school while trying to navigate trends, and external influences; figuring out who I was, what I was good at, and what I was passionate about.
The next 20 years was in the military, where choices became limited as a result of operational tempo and numerous moves. Still, I managed to get married and create, grow, nurture and support my family. I had a great career, and was able to understand and then maintain throughout, who I was, or thought I was, and wanted to be. Coming out of that career, and with a now-mature family, I knew I was going to have to consider what I thought a post-military life would, or should look like. This time though, I wasn’t going to chase trends or let external influences define for me the best life.
For the best life I had my own ideas. These ideas were distinct, yet interdependent. Then I read an article in 2012 that brought it all together for me. Certainly the article had some influence, but it really just epitomized the various ideas I already held into a cohesive concept. The article was about Sun Valley.
(I recognize that the article was advertising, but still, it reflected the culmination of those interdependent ideas.)
The article, Sun Valley Style, narrates the story of several Sun Valley natives and their return to their hometown. It spoke to their leaving to pursue education and careers, and their subsequent successes. But more so it speaks to their desire to return home to share, and further their passions and success in their native homes.
One of the ideas I derived from this article that really resonated with me was that success, or the best life, is not the same for everyone; that we need to define this for ourselves. It read thus:
There’s a saying in Sun Valley that you have either three homes or three jobs.
“There are a lot of us here who said, ‘We’re not going to participate in your recession,’” … “‘We’re going to make it work.’ It’s not easy, and we don’t make as much money, but it’s more fun.”
It relates working hard, but also the ability to find a break in each day to get in some fishing. There is the sense of community, with a heart and need for creativity. It is friends connected, or re-connected, and shared passion.
This article helped me realize that I was more excited by the idea of three jobs then three houses; so long as those jobs provided an outlet and opportunity for creativity, and shared but distinct experiences. An existence that allowed for out-of-doors experience relational to the need to be indoors to work. There is a notion of balance. For me, this was not easily found on the path to corporate or government ‘success’.
I think I am on a balanced and creative path now; the right path to my best life. Getting to this understanding was a deliberate effort based on a mature life and many varied experiences. I share this in the hope that you might consider what is for you, the best life.
It’s better to be at the bottom of the ladder you want to climb than to be at the top of the one you don’t.” – Chris Guillebeau