Even though business trips are not necessarily something that I look forward to, I always enjoy what accompanies them: the time to reflect and the opportunity to see and experience new things. Reflection brings with it new perspectives on many of our daily activities that we normally don’t take a look at in the busyness of our work-a-day world.
This past week I took a trip to the Kentucky side of Cincinnati to do what we call in the publication world a “press check”. This is a time when the customer, me, gets up close and personal with the people who print the catalog that my department works on for most of the year. It is kind of like the last look at something before thousands of copies are printed and sent all over the world for people to interact with and buy what we have for sale. Sometimes a mistake is found at the last minute but most generally it is a time to adjust color on the page and by your very presence there, create in the press people a desire to make your project look like the best one in the world. It is a game of give and take and requires a lot of energy, patience and endurance.
When you are not on call at the plant, you are eating, checking your e-mail and looking for somewhere to take a long walk. When it is over you fly back and rejoin your old life which most of the time is still in progress—your time away just a brief pause for a commercial and a bathroom break.
Airports are always an interesting place to people watch. You get to see every section of society—from the high class to the business class and all that survive in between. I often wonder what they think of me as I watch them text message and pound the keyboards of their computers. Real “road-warriors” who log thousands of miles every year, sleep in hotels and eat restaurant food every meal. What a life.
What I noticed this year was how our nationwide economy breaks down on an very individual level with each and every person doing their part to create wealth for all of us. From the cars we drive to the houses we live in—the battle for prosperity goes on each and every day. We are all dependent on one another. If my company is not doing well then the business that prints my catalog is not doing well and their employees are not doing well and all the businesses that count on their support suffer as well. Everyday there is a flurry of activity on the highways and byways of our towns and cities that produce a place where we can find peace and comfort. It is simply amazing.
However, it is my observation, that all is not well in this little scenario that I have described. I was shocked by all the people I saw during this last trip who seemed to be less than well. We have all read the stories about overweight Americans and the prevalence of heart disease and diabetes that follows. But until you travel—this picture still seems a little out of focus and abstract. It is not like I saw any more over-weight people than I have on earlier trips or that the man in the x-ray line at the airport check-in who could barely walk with arthritis was someone I had not seen in a similar situation. It was like something in my spirit was allowing me to see a little deeper into some of the people I came in contact with.
People who work to hard and don’t exercise enough or take enough time away from their jobs with family and friends. Even me, after one day out of my familiar surroundings longing for a place to take a walk or do something that would burn up some calories and get my heart rate above 50.
I am well aware that not all illness is from abuse—some of what we face is genetic and situational. And good eating and exercise habits are one way to a fitter you and me.
Having said all that, I am resolved to do everything in my power to make the years I have remaining productive ones. In a sense we are all time bombs waiting to go off—some this year and before their time and some in the years and decades to come. Each day is a gift and we can do no better than to accept it and live our lives as though they really count for something—what that is and where that takes us is a good start for 2008—don’t you think!