When Unproductive is OK

When Unproductive is OK

To say that I eagerly anticipated this morning’s work is quite the understatement, indeed. The first free morning in quite some time, I looked forward to journaling, writing, tackling the mountain of emails that populated my inbox, and generally getting a handle on things out here on the road. After two weeks in Irvine, CA for USA Swimming Senior and Junior Nationals, I now find myself in Idaho for more recruiting, and I planned this morning as a much-needed work session. Traveling makes personal productivity a challenge, as we know, and we must make the most of the rare opportunities for work when they arise.

With my iPad Pro, journal, fountain pen, Kimera Koffee, and Brain.fm focus music in hand, I was ready for the aforementioned session. I found a spot outside on the hotel patio, set up my tools, and was about to dive in when he sat down. The Purple Heart hat told only half of the story, and two hours later I had the rest. From Vietnam to a series of hospitals stateside to owning mineral rights in a gold mine here in Idaho...here was a life that spanned 70 years and included a Quantum Physics teaching stop at Drexel University in Philadelphia somewhere in between ‘Nam and the Idaho mine. As I grew up outside of Philly and lived in PA for 26 years we immediately hit it off, and the conversation soon turned to fountain pens, hand-to-hand combat, Higgs boson, and Samurai swordsmanship. The productivity would have to wait.

And so it is, sometimes unproductive is OK. I had a lot planned, a lot to do. This was to be my time, my time to zone in on my nagging to-do list, a list that has a funny way of creeping up on you while out on the road. Instead, I heard from a 70-year-old, twice-wounded Vietnam Veteran with a love of Theoretical Physics, and I do believe our conversation added quite a bit of value to his day. I won’t say our conversation made his day...but he was happy to share his life story in only the way that 70-year-old Vets often do. And I listened and responded in kind. As he retired to his room for a mid-morning nap, he turned with a smile and said “I see a bit of my younger self in you - have a good day my friend” and with that he was gone.

The productivity had to wait.

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