I returned from a two-hour meeting to find six missed calls from my dad’s cell phone. All within two or three minutes of each other.
Notes on my dad: He’s in his mid-late-70’s, deteriorating after a hard life and too much hard work. The Vietnam War and the local steel mill have taken their toll. He’s also stubborn as hell when it comes to “do it yourself.” He’s been working on house projects since I can remember: felling errant trees, splitting wood, installing a new heating system, tasks requiring heavy machinery… all of it. He also is home alone while my mom works.
*cue panic dialing*
“KRISTEN???” (I am an only child.)
“Yeah dad. Whatcha got? What’s going on?” (DO YOU NEED AN AMBULANCE I AM READY TO HIT 911)
“I was looking for some help…”
“?????!” (oh my god he’s at the bottom of the stairs somewhere…)
“How do you feel about getting up on the roof?”
“Yeah, I need someone to hold the end of a tape measure – I’ve gotten 35 years out of 25 year shingles, and it’s time to replace them. I need to get measurements to get an estimate.” (when you read this he says MAY-zhure, not meh-sure).
So this is how I found myself teetering around on a roof last weekend. If I didn’t go help him he’d surely attempt to do it all himself.
As I looked out on my parent’s little empire of a few acres of tranquility, I noticed the buds on the trees, the huge ironstone boulders littering the area, and the beautiful garden waiting to pour forth tomatoes, lettuce, sweet peas. I was looking down on things where before I looked straight-on.
I often think about how far my career has progressed and various points where I thought, “now I’ve made it!” Getting hired as a permanent employee. First promotion. Making $20 per hour. The first venture into supervision.
But wait! There was always another step to take. Each level brought a different perspective on the past, and opportunities for the future I wouldn’t have seen until I took a step up and truly owned my capabilities.
The positions I apply for now are a world apart from where I started fifteen years ago. I think it’s not always right to have your life planned out too far in advance: If I’d locked myself into a path from my perspective then, I would never have taken advantage of some of the fantastic opportunities along the way, wouldn’t have taken a few (measured) risks, wouldn’t have invested quite so much in myself or even my people.
Today I am grateful for the view from the roof.