Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sometimes, Life Dictates the Story, and Man...You'd Better Listen when it does.

By Andrew E. Kaufman

I’ve been away from my regular post for what feels like forever. It wasn’t a deliberate choice—more, it happened out of circumstance. In other words, life left me no other option.

It went a little caddywhompus on me.

Well, if I’m going to be completely honest, life was pretty damned crazy before that—I just didn’t know it. Okay, if I’m going to be completely honest, I knew it. I just wasn’t paying attention.

Then life said, “Oh yeah? Well, watch this.”

I ran into significant health issues, then my father did, then my brother did, and as a result, life forced me to shut everything down and focus on (gasp) the things that really mattered. If that weren’t enough, life also took it a step further: it sentenced me to over a month in bed so I could contemplate my negligent behavior.

And, boy, did I. part of my community service requirement (as dictated by—you guessed it—life), I’m reporting back to share what I’ve learned.

If I don’t pay attention to life, life will make me listen.

Oprah says that life whispers to you all the time, and if you don’t listen, the whisper gets louder, and if you don’t listen to that, it knocks you up ‘side the head. (She says it a little better than I, so take it away, Oprah):

I’m not just listening to the whispers now, I’m hunting the little bastards down.

No job is more important than the one I've been put here to do.

Guess what that is? It's to live my freakin' life to the fullest and make no apologies (or have any regrets) for doing it. This has been a long, arduous, and painful process for me, but I'm finally learning to slow down, take a look around, and breathe. 

My family, friends (and of course, the critters) come first. The job comes second.

As the old saying goes, Nobody on his deathbed ever looked up into the eyes of his family and friends and said, “I wish I'd spent more time at the office."

Here's a little secret I've learned: my work will actually still be there when I come back to it. It doesn't evaporate into thin air, and often, I actually even find myself doing it better afterward.

If I take care of my body, my mind will pay me back.

It’s no secret: I hate exercising. No, I despise it. But what I hate even more is how I feel when I don’t.  I get cranky, anxious, and my mind gets all foggy.  As a result, my writing suffers, and then I’m downright miserable. Here’s the thing: Your brain needs oxygen. Exercise does that. So, guess what I’m doing every day? Feeding my brain.

If I sleepwalk through life, I’ll wake up one day with a bunch of dreams that never happened.

End of story.


  1. I'm so glad you're feeling better! And I hope the exercise is rewarding enough to stick with it. Best wishes for your family too.

    I took some down time from writing this summer to complete a few long-overdue personal projects and it felt great. Now I'm eager to get going on the next book.

  2. Drew, I took every word of this and all of Oprah's words to heart because I was worried about you when you got sick and your dad and brother also had health problems. And I've got very similar tendencies as you had - work too hard, don't stop enough to spend time with family and friends and just enjoy life.

    In all your advice and Oprah's, I think we can use "our bodies" or "my body" in the place of "life." Listen to what our bodies are telling us. Go for a walk, call a friend, whatever.

    I took on too many projects recently and got myself all stressed out trying to complete them all on time, and when I was finished, I ended up exhausted for three days. Just couldn't do anything. I guess I got off easy, didn't I - if I listen to that knock upside the head I got! If I don't listen to my body and plan my life for what's optimal to my health, both physical and mental/emotional, I guess I'll deserve it if the whole house comes down on me, all those bricks, as Oprah says.

    Thanks for reminding me and all of us of what's important in life, Drew. I'm so glad you're feeling better! And let's hope you and I both listen to these wake-up calls! Sounds like you definitely will!

  3. This is a lesson I have to keep relearning, although I think I may be getting better at it.

    So glad you're feeling better; we missed you!

  4. I can't tell you enough how glad I am that you're feeling better. Honestly, I could weep with joy. Keep listening to those whispers. I think the most dangerous part is when you think, "Yes, I know I should go get some exercise, but if I just push through this one deadline, I'll have more free time." That's when you start pushing for one more thing, until you've pushed yourself off the cliff. Keep your routine as consistent as you can - don't make me come down there and kick your butt.

  5. For me, it's also about not taking on too much, being realistic about what I can accomplish in any given week or month, and not overwhelming myself with too many commitments. I need to build in more relaxing time and more leisure activities, more time with family and friends - find more balance. Then, as you say, Drew, when we do go back to work, we'll feel fresher and probably work better and more efficiently. And we'll be healthier because we won't be so stressed and we'll be doing active stuff, too.

  6. Hi Andy!
    First, let me say how glad I am that you are feeling better.
    It's scary how easy it is for so many of us to put ourselves aside and work too hard, devote our time and energy to unhealthy pursuits (like skipping the gym when we need it most) and lose sight of how important it is for each and everyone of us to pay attention to ourselves.
    My wise grandmother always reminded me, "It will be there tomorrow." Simple, solid advice.
    I've also learned it's up to me to take care of myself. Nobody else.
    You've reminded me of that today. Thanks! It's way too easy to forget to:
    Listen to that little voice!
    Stay healthy.
    Take care of YOURSELF!

  7. I didn't know you (or your father or brother) were sick. Glad you're feeling better. Glad you're listening and exercising. I'm with you on that. Must be something in the air - or name.

    Be well and come back stronger.

  8. Welcome back and hope you're a 100% soon!

  9. First, you know I love you and I'm so happy you've re-engaged with this little aspect of your life called CFC.

    Second, we've had some pretty deep philosophical discussions and I've recently become aware of a concept that might have a bearing on where you are. Too much to go into here, but one of these days maybe we'll be able to carve out some time to explore it.

    And third—see the first.

  10. Thanks so much, everyone. It's great to back in the swing of things, both here and in life!


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