I’m in Florida on a family reunion/vacation. We got here Monday after a totally uneventful flight on which the Great 8 were truly great. There were several families on the flight, all together numbering fewer children than we have, and you couldn’t have told where we were sitting if you closed your eyes. The kids made not one peep.
We got here, and we got bunked in, and the kids went to the pool, and then yesterday the government announced a huge purchase of mortgage-backed securities (the little devils that control mortgage interest rates), and mortgage rates dived by half a point in about an hour.
I spent the entire day – the entire day – sitting in front of my laptop sending email and talking on the phone. I went outside for a grand total of 2.5 minutes, all of which was travel time to and from the adjacent condos where the other families are, because that’s where breakfast and dinner were. For lunch Jeanette brought me a plate and set it in front of me. Six straight hours I never got up, at one stretch.
Perhaps this is unhealthy, and I did, last night, have a major attack of the guilts. Well, telling the truth, the guilts and the martyrs, because not only was I feeling that I should have done at least something with the family, I also was feeling sorry for myself. Jeanette and I talked about it at length, and she in her wisdom kept asking me the salient question – did I do what I should, or was I supposed to be doing something else? And I thought about it, and I think that I did the right thing. One of my jobs is to watch over my clients and protect them, help them to take advantage of opportunities in the market so they can save money. This is protection they need and that I think they paid for when they became my clients. My vacation time is not an excuse for not performing those services my business commits to. Additionally, we could certainly use to do the loans that would result. The kids had a great time shopping and playing the Wii, and it was raining part of the day so there wasn’t going to be any swimming or shuffleboard. All in all, it was a good day to spend working, so that’s most of the guilt taken care of.
Most of the martydom comes from the fact that I worked all day and didn’t really discern that I made any progress. It’s possible that I picked up one loan, at most three, not that that’s a bad thing, but with this kind of opportunity I had expected that number to be much higher. I planted a lot of seeds but saw little growth. So, to mangle a C.S. Lewis phrase from Screwtape, I spent the day doing neither what I liked nor what was profitable. I sacrificed, as I told my wife, but I sacrificed to the wrong god. Add to this that I know I should have a better attitude about it, and that having a crappy attitude denies myself the blessings of the sacrifice, and it was just an “I suck”-fest last night.
Whether I suck or not is hardly in dispute, but it brought up something that I struggle with all the time, and not just on vacation. I do sincerely want to do the right thing. I even want to do the right thing when there is something I’d rather be doing instead, like playing instead of working, for instance. But I feel sometimes that doing the right thing ought to be hard, and that I deserve credit much more when I do it in the face of something really fun, like, say, vacationing, than when I do it just because it’s Tuesday, and that’s what you do on Tuesday. Does any of this make sense? I worked yesterday instead of playing, and that was hard, but not very hard. I like working. But I like not working, too. Most of the time, I like doing whatever it is that I’m doing. That’s a great thing, no? But when I feel compelled to work through my vacation, shouldn’t I see everyone else playing, desire to go play with them, but remember my duty, square my shoulders manfully, and soldier on? Isn’t that how one sacrifices?
I didn’t do that. I sat at my computer and I wrote email and talked on the phone, and I was fine. I didn’t make any money that I’m aware of, which stinks, but I did do my job and my duty and a bit more. And I hated myself when I was done, not for doing the wrong thing, but for doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. And because it wasn’t hard to do, when I felt like it should have been.
How screwed up is that?
So then I read Elder Holland’s talk (LDS religion alert) about angels being around us to help us in time of trouble, and I felt a bit better, and this morning I’m just laughing at myself. Feel free to laugh with me.
In other news, last night I finally watched Love Actually, and with one quibble, I thought it was great. I thought the director had trouble keeping the stories weighted correctly, so that we got far too little of the gal in the office (Laura Linney, the one with the suicidal brother in the hospital), and a bit too much of Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson, not that they are not perfection on the screen, and I really, really wanted Rickman to pull the necklace out of his pocket at the play when his wife confronts him, and show her that his heart is with her still. But he didn’t and Thompson’s performance in the face of that heartache was ringingly truthful, one of the things I liked the best about the movie, so I forgive. And the rest, well, the rest was magical. Liam Neeson really CAN act, after all. His performance as stepdad was spectacular. I can officially add Colin Firth to my list of people I’d watch even if all they were doing was reading the London phone book (short list, by the way: Hugh Jackman, Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Kenneth Branagh, and Colin Firth. And Anthony Hopkins [English films only] and Ben Kingsley) (And Kate Beckinsale [non-vampire] and Hugh Grant) (and Nathan Fillion) (okay so it’s a long list). 4 stars out of 5.
Sunny and bright today. Happy Thanksgiving.