Ruth (my 2 1/2 year old daughter), and I just spent the last three weeks visiting with and being loved on by Ben's parents who enjoyed a bit of west coast sunshine and a respite from a particularly chilly Midwest winter. Ben's current work schedule leaves little social time during the week so Ruth and I gladly welcomed the company especially at supper time which often feels a tad lonely after a long day. Our conversation caught up on the things that had happened since we last saw each other (Thanksgiving), and planned our next visits (May), but my favorite supper conversations have always been the ones that usually come after a couple days worth of the catch up. The ones that last for an hour after a tiny tangent -- the ones which trail off into days gone by, in which we catch a glimpse of life before our own lives began. Who our parents were at our age. What they loved and how they spent their time -- about how going to the movies was an event you dressed up for; seeing Elvis in concert one month before he died; building their own skateboards and getting chased by the police in a residential area...
And ultimately, aside from a few funny detailed stories here and there (sunbathing on the roof with fellow secretaries during lunch breaks and the epic Christmas parties), their careers can be summarized into a few sentences. What they did, where, and for how long. They were successful and enjoyed their work, but it's not the subject that dominates our conversation about the past.
It's a gentle, lovely and much needed reminder that we are more than what we do. Our life and our reach are greater than that. You are not your work or your accomplishments. You are not your titles or your number of followers. What matters most is who we love and that we do it deeply. Genuinely.
This is not to say the daily interactions and work tasks hold no value and are ultimately meaningless -- what a beautiful gift that as creatives we can find pleasure in our time spent working, but be it clients or neighbors or parents or children, in your work and apart from it, may we strive to love well and to think of others.