Hello and good day!
Six or seven years ago, I went to a super bowl party.
I wasn't writing at all back then and we were still selling chocolate exclusively to high end restaurants and chocolatiers, mostly in Europe.
The good thing about writing every day is that sometimes I get lucky, and an old memory resurfaces that I appreciated at the time but that I have since forgotten.
This was a really good memory too.
It's a shame that it has been lost to me all these years.
The party was in a big, beautiful house.
The owner of the house was a successful businessman with really nice college aged children who still lived at home.
I came with my wife and two sons. I only had two little ones back then, not three yet, and they were both very small.
Another family came who had just one kid, a little two-year-old girl.
The owners of the house had ordered pizza and wings from a local place, and the husband of the family volunteered me and the other husband to go along with him to pick up the food.
"It will give us a moment to catch up in private," said the older husband.
We walked out to the driveway.
The house was up on a tall hill overlooking the ocean.
It was a cold Seattle day, windy and clear.
Because of the height of the hill, we could see out past the land masses that enclose Puget Sound, all the way out to the untethered Pacific Ocean.
The city was inland, a worn-out city with old tall buildings, tattered, and sometimes appearing to be holding on for dear life.
"Let's take my new truck," said the other young husband.
It was a huge black monster truck.
I deferred the front seat to the older gentleman and sat in back, even though it was cramped back there, and I have long legs.
Halfway through the trip, I turned and rested my legs on the seat and leaned back against the door, and that helped.
As we drove, the two fellows in front struck up a conversation.
The older husband went first.
"It looks like things are going well for you. This is a really nice truck."
"Not bad right? I always wanted a truck like this. I've been working hard and now I can afford it."
"You've always been a hard worker. Have you been doing anything different lately that has made things better?"
"In fact, I have. I have been preaching excellence to my team. We must strive for excellence in all that we do. Gutters. Decks. Siding. Painting. Our work must always be top notch."
"That'll do it every time. Congrats to you, my friend. This truck is a beauty."
We drove through the city in the loud and powerful truck, sitting high above the street, the motor barking through the exhaust.
At the pizza place, we all fought to pay for the food, but finally the other young husband, the one who had driven, won the battle.
"I told you that things are going well for me right now. Let me pick it up," he said.
I carried the food out, a stack of pizza boxes, boxed wings, and boxed salads.
It was the least I could do since I didn't drive or pay.
I laid the food on the legs of the older gentleman in the front seat, and we drove home.
On the way back, the older gentleman fired up a new conversation, along a different line.
"How are your wife and daughter doing?" he asked.
There was a pause as the driver looked out the window, at the passing road, and pondered how much he should let on.
"That isn't going as well."
"Mainly because I work all the time and my wife feels like I've stranded her."
"Have you stranded her? Is she telling the truth?"
"I have to put food on the table, right? I have the new truck, don't I?"
"Nothing wrong with supporting your family and nothing wrong with having nice things. I'd be a hypocrite if I told you otherwise. You see my house and my cars. I worked hard for them too."
"So, what can I do? Something has to give right?"
We pulled into the driveway.
I swung my feet around and hopped down from the backseat.
I took the long walk down and around the truck's bed and came up the other side to carry in the food.
We were greeted by our wives and kids and additional partygoers who had since showed up. We each went our own way, to chat and eat chips and dip and serve food.
Somewhere around the third quarter, I was sitting on the couch next to the older fellow. We were enjoying the game together without talking, the way that men watching football can do for very long stretches.
The other young dad came over and sat next to me.
He had his daughter laying across his arms. She had fallen asleep.
His wife was in the kitchen chatting with other women who had lost interest in the game.
After several moments of sitting quietly and staring at the screen, the young husband with the little girl in his arms spoke up.
"It sounded like you were going to say something else in the car."
The older man watched the game until the ongoing play was finished, then he turned and looked across me.
"That's right. I was going to say something else."
"Now seems like a pretty good time. We're alone. What was it?"
"You said that you were pursuing excellence in your work and that is why things are going so well."
"The good news is that you understand the link between excellence and success."
The team with the ball converted on third down.
The older fellow clapped with delight, and then he reached to the table to take a long sip from a water bottle. He wiped his lips with his forearm and turned back to the conversation.
"Here is what you don't know yet. The key to being a complete man or woman or human being is to pursue excellence in everything that matters. Being excellent at one thing is not enough. You don't get to sacrifice everything else just to be good at work. Family. Work. Money. Friends. Health. To be complete, you have to do all of them excellently at the same time. That is my opinion anyway, after a lot of trial and error."
The younger man nodded and then responded.
"But how can I do that? There aren't enough hours in the day."
"I know you think that, but believe me, it can be done. This is brain work, not shock and awe work. Building another deck won't solve it. You have to think hard and prioritize and not waste any part of your day. And you have to be honest about where you might be wasting time that would be better spent with your family. Squeeze it all out. Trust me, you don't want to miss seeing your daughter grow up. You can't get it back. And as far as being on bad terms with your wife. You definitely don't want that."
The three of us settled in and watched the rest of the game in perfect silence, interrupted only by an occasional whoop, or an enthusiastic clap of the hands.
Thank you so much for time today.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
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