Itís About the Tunnel
I’m at that age ... over 50.
Bob Buford wrote a book called “Halftime.” He describes someone’s life as the First Half and the Second Half.
In the First Half, like in a football game, you work hard to build successes, trying to build a “lead.” You build a team, draft people into your life, such as a spouse and friends. You look ahead and make sure you are under the salary cap with room for the future. In the First Half, you build your financial security and fortune. You accumulate.
In the Second Half, you suddenly look to using your life skills, relationships and talents to make a civilized difference in the world. You begin to look to social causes and lasting sustainable purposes.
I think it is amazing how the closer we get to our check-out date, we only then begin to realize that what we thought was important, really wasn’t at all.
Much of the First Half was wasted on false narratives. How silly, really, that our most challenging physical and mental years are what we save for giving back to society.
Wouldn’t society benefit even greater from the energy of a young person with a young mind? I think we have it backwards.
I refuse to be a member of God’s ant farm.
Many are cut perfectly for that kind of life; not me. Spend so many years building a tunnel, and then watch God put His finger into my plastic, enclosed and see-through life. With little effort, He pushes my tunnel closed and watches me do it all over again.
No, that’s not me. I choose to have a different perspective on the tunnel. The way I look at it is this: The tunnel is supposed to be the purpose, not a means to an end.
I grew up in Pittsburgh, and tunnels are amazing. Close the Fort Pitt Tunnel or the Liberty “Tubes” for a few hours, and the world collapses.
We recently drove through the Wheeling (West Virginia) Tunnel on I-70 on a return trip from Pittsburgh to Indianapolis. We could have bypassed it, but tunnels are exciting — why ever bypass one?
In building a tunnel, I feel as if we defeated the biggest obstacle, the undefeated football team, David taking down Goliath.
My brother David worked for years on the “Big Dig” in Boston with a specialty Italian tunneling company. He said the guys were super short and looked like moles. These guys understood. They even seemed to take on the physical characteristics of great “Tunnelers.”
I don’t think God is having his way with us. I think He’s saying, inaudibly, “How many times do I have to block your way for you to see what is going on around you? Wake up and smell the Starbucks!”
If I had it to do it over again, I’d make sure that I would focus more on the tunnel. Make digging a tunnel your passion. Make sure you are digging the correct tunnel.
I spent 24 years of a previous career looking for what was at the end of the tunnel. Guess what? It was a train (actually, a Trane, in my case).
One day, God put His huge finger in my tunnel, and this time I was listening. He said, “Jeff, dude, it’s not about what’s at the end of the tunnel; it’s about the tunnel.”
He said, “Make sure you understand that your tunnel will lead to many things along the way, not just at the end. In fact, I don’t want you to get to the end. Make sure you are watching and listening and enjoying.”
I don’t know where you are in your life, whether you have reached the 50-yard line or not, but I for one will not agree to live defined by a First Half or a Second Half. I’m going to build as much of a lead as I can.
I’m including social enterprise in my tunnel building. I have found ways to combine my passions into my business. Our Falcon Vision parking guidance system comes from endless dreaming and inventing. My passion for sustainable indoor farming (not marijuana) has been woven into our business model, where we have created affordable grow lights to support that tunnel.
My writing is a tunnel that makes the day to day amazing. Please understand that living as a Tunnel Engineer is not for everyone. It has a cost associated with it. It’s not safe or predictable. It is hard work and never ending.
I think that it’s safe to say this. If we look to the world of sports for an example of how not to live our lives, let’s just look to the Atlanta Falcons. Here you have a great team, great athletes and a worthy city that deserves a championship. When a team doesn’t understand that you should never stop digging tunnels, even with a huge lead and with the end in sight, the results will disappoint.
I know that I have messed up often and messed up terribly. I have hurt people I love and I have challenged people I should not have. I’m not how you do it, my friends, but I’m always willing and able to let you into my failures as well as my successes.
Dig deep, get some dirt under your fingernails. Let’s burrow together, one shovel at a time. Maybe when we choose to let regular life get in our way, we could call it: the “Carpool Tunnel Syndrome.”