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Week 2022#52: the end
Many things are ending now
Schloss Johannisburg in my hometown Aschaffenburg. It took me 32 years to start to really appreciate it. Today I learned that it is actually over 400(!) years old. Growing up in Aschaffenburg, it was always “just there” and I never really registered it as something special.
What I’ve learned
It feels like a lot of things have come to an end in the last week of 2022:
the year itself,
the subconscious feeling that my parents are around and will be around,
just cruising along and not taking control of my time.
My perception of time and its value have changed over the last few weeks. While it used to feel like there is plenty of time left for whatever wonders life still harbors, I now feel a sense of urgency.
You’ve all heard the eons-old platitudes of “memento mori” and “carpe diem”.
Actually being confronted with the reality of a close death however provide a chance to experience their meaning.
Combined with creating more (like this newsletter), I started assigning new meanings to old things.
Take the castle above for example: in the past, I registered it just as “an old castle, like so many others in Germany”.
Today, I look at it from the perspective of a creator: try building something (and the systems that support it), so that it lasts for 400 years.
That seems close to impossible!
Even one year seems hard. Try doing anything regularly for a year!
When you factor in that you could be dead tomorrow (you know, you could just not wake up without you noticing a thing):
building anything lasting becomes more impressive,
and personally, I feel like I need to get all my things in order and live every day such that if it turned out to be the last, I die with good conscience.
This ranges from practical matters of settling debts, inheritances, funeral arrangements, and so on, to abstract long-term things like living with integrity, having taken risks, and whatever other values you might have.
Expectation vs Reality
The whole family knows what my father still wants: no! He was physically unable to talk, and the times when he was able to talk, we hit a wall when touching on anything personal.
I know what my goals at work are for January: yes! Expectations toward me have been communicated clearly and I want to live up to them.
A detailed action plan for Talking To Strangers until April: not really :(
There is an action plan, but it’s only detailed for January.
No more treatment for my father: on Wednesday he said that he doesn’t want any more chemotherapy. Later the doctors declared him unfit for further treatment. Now it is just about being present.
Sunday was about being tired: from irregular sleep, eating too much the day before, and flying to Germany, again.
Käti and I sat down to get aligned on what needs to happen to move Talking To Strangers forward. As if things weren’t difficult enough already, not being in Tallinn definitely makes moving forward harder, but not impossible.
All the self-development books started to pay off big time: I actively plan my days at work now and assign meaning to every minute at work. This feels great! I don’t feel any urge to check messages or do something unrelated, because at every point in time during my workday I know what I should be doing right now. This makes it easy to stay on track:
At any given moment when I feel like getting distracted, I can ask the question “what should I be doing right now” and the question has a clear answer!
I tried nudging my parents toward talking more openly about their emotions, but after over four decades of living together, this is difficult: my mother is trying at least, but my father really doesn’t want to talk about how he feels. Nobody knows, and he’s not able to talk every day. This is tough.