My four brothers and I frequently share texts. Most involve inane observations or commentary on some sporting event, but they are fun and help keep a small connection going since we live our own lives in five separate states. Brian sent a text the other day that made me stop and think a bit. In it, he stated “Three of the best feelings in the world (in increasing order):

  1. Dunking {referring to basketball};
  2. Really connecting on a pitch in baseball;
  3. When you first realize you’ve hooked a fish.”

I don’t think my list of top 3 feelings would quite mirror his, but I can’t argue with his basic observation. He may have not have consciously recognized the connection, but each of those things would probably not be considered extraordinary by anyone, but they’re special on an intuitive level. Anyone who has squared up on a baseball and felt the smooth and instantaneous transfer of power from hips to arms to bat to ball cannot deny the little rush that moment provides. Likewise, hooking into even the smallest fish for the 1,000th time brings an exhilaration that cannot really be explained. Why? I’d argue that a big part of the reason is because life is being lived and the present moment is recognized.

Achieving the dreams and goals that we set for ourselves usually isn’t the source of the joy we experience in life, but life along the way is where we find it. Graduating from college, getting a promotion, finding the perfect house, winning a championship, building a successful business, getting children through college, and retiring by age 55 are not bad things and not intrinsically empty pursuits, but what is the focus along the way? Are we missing life as we try to make a better life? I know I sometimes get lost in the thought that by achieving my next worthy goal, I will enable so much more good to come from it, but maybe I’m limiting my own joy and the joy for others in my life when the honorable goal consumes my focus and pieces of life are set aside until that goal is achieved. Curiously, there’s always another goal, isn’t there?  Joy is to possess that which you love.  If reaching these goals just inspires more goals, perhaps my goals represent false or incomplete loves.

There’s not too much that neither my boss nor I can do about it, but it’s pretty clear that I’m on the fast track to getting laid off. This reality has consumed my thoughts for the past few days because I worry about how I am going to pay my bills and care for my family. I don’t want to lose my job and I certainly don’t want to fail my family, so I’m focused on a goal to ensure that I have employment that will enable me to provide for my family. My 2-month-old daughter snapped me out of my focus this morning when she stole minutes of productive time from me. She didn’t help my employment situation and certainly didn’t help pay any bills, but she did stare at me and smile while I held her. We shared a joy-filled moment that outshines any achievement for which I have worked and even surpasses my best day of fishing.