I am sitting at the Rhein River this morning. Here is my view:
I would sincerely like to say that I have done this dozens of times since living in Germany. But that isn’t true. This is the VERY FIRST time that I have just come to the river to sit and contemplate, alone. I planned my whole year to be one long contemplation! Nonetheless I have spent countless hours taking care of Keogh and Wren, food shopping, checking emails, responding to and creating my own business responsibilities, talking on the phone, going to the post office, etc. You see living in Europe is 99% like living in the US. Its just that that 1% is one wild, adventurous, cool, exhausting and expanding ride. Like today, sitting at the Rhein in Germany! And writing, just sitting and writing. This would be an expanding part.
Doing things like food shopping and going to the post office have their own element of adventure. I mean postal employees all over the world have the same code of behavior that entails only providing information one knows enough to ask for. And asking for postal information in German is a minefield of possibly incorrect (in)formalities, horrible grammar and painful pronunciations. But it is incredibly satisfying when I get the information I was looking for. Same goes for food shopping. I mean how many Americans could ask for Agave at their local Rewe (think Associated, ShopRite, Stop n’ Shop, etc.)? Now do it with a 22 month old single handedly dismantling the produce section and a 5 year old so intensely “reading” his comic book that he is walking out the front door of the grocery, into traffic, and not hearing his MaMa calling his name. Pretty impressive that I get anything understood, right?
And today I’m alone at the Rhein. The weather is perfect. A bicycle cab just rode by with a blissful bride and groom. A couple is fighting down the bench from me. I have head phones on but I can tell. Folks are roller blading, jogging and riding bikes. I’m sitting on what was once a dock and is now a leisure promenade. I’m just north of the “crane” buildings. Three buildings built in L-shapes suggesting large shipping cranes that overlook the river. I love them. The couple just kissed and made up. Life is good.
The wheels are turning. The water is pleasantly rippling by. And my mind is working. I sold a business about 18 months ago. A business that my Mom and then me owned for nearly 25 years. I spent my entire professional career growing that company. And today I find myself reflecting on the fact that it is no longer mine. That is not to say I wasn’t ready to let it go. I was ready. And I am not feeling regret. What I am realizing is that my brain is fast while my heart slow. Understanding and feeling are two totally different things. I learned so much at that company about myself, my family, running a business, managing and leading people. I made so many many mistakes. And I had many many victories. There are countless memories. The many young women who bought homes because of their employment with my company. A woman, then a young 40 something fairly newly employed with the company, who came to me in tears with her first paycheck as a stylist because it was the most she had ever earned in one check in her entire life. The immigrant woman who came to the US with exactly $118 in her very thin pocket and five years later gave me a ride in her wildly expensive brand new car. The young woman who would literally pass out when she had to speak in public and now presents (really she informs, teaches, and entertains these days!) to dozens of people. And the countless men and women who grew and became more than they ever dreamed because of this little company. Now don’t get me wrong there were plenty of haters and drop-outs and plain old bad shit that went on. And the net outcome – I am sitting in Europe, writing a blog entry at the Rhein, raising a family and thinking about all the good things I’ve been a part of. I am living a dream. Perhaps it was all worth it?