Be a Part of Something Bigger Than Yourself

I had a packed (and pleasant) few days as I witnessed my youngest brother marry his beautiful bride in northern Virginia and then I headed south into the mountains with my family for a retreat / vacation. I needed that so badly!

Isn’t it true that you don’t realize how desperate you are for some time off until you’re actually taking the time off? My wife, naturally, knew that I needed to get away so she planned most of it and was able to tack it on to the back-end of the wedding trip – she’s so wise and strategic!

We stayed at an incredible Bed and Breakfast owned by an older French couple, Bernard and Tessa, who took good care of us every single day, especially the mornings with some delightful food and fresh-pressed coffee that had me wanting to never go back to proper civilization.

Ahhhh. With my lungs experiencing crisp, clean mountain air I realized that for far too long I’ve grown accustomed to processed (and re-processed) industrial air.

I took the family to visit a number of parks and attractions while spending enough time just napping around the house. We even grabbed a rocket and a foam airplane to just toss around one lazy afternoon!

What a joy to just hang with the girls! They are growing up faster than anything else in my life (definitely faster than my startups!) and it’s moments like these that allow me to slow down a bit and cherish every single moment that I have with them.

I hope you’re doing the same with your loved ones – we don’t give them the time and attention that they need and deserve!

Soon they will be managing real homes with real families of their own – I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to that idea!

I’d much rather picture them struggling with the small things like putting on a hat because I know how to fix that challenge!

But one of the neatest things we did was visit a spot called Blowing Rock, which is apparently NC’s oldest attraction with a 3,000 foot drop over the Johns River Gorge.

Needless to say, it’s a bit scary.

But my oldest daughter’s reaction was not of fear but rather sheer delight! She loved seeing the incredible expanse before her – as she called it, “lots of trees!”

I could tell that there were a number of thoughts streaming through her little 5 and a half year old brain but what struck me was our conversation about how “big” everything was – it’s as if for the first time she realized she was a part of something much larger than herself.

Naturally she wanted to check it all out:

And go to the very edge…

And like any responsible parent I said “Sure, why not?

We (safely) explored the small park area and found even greater (and higher) places to check out:

Snagged a few family shots too:

But what was most satisfying was near the end of our stay there Roenne came up to me and said this:

I want to be a photographer now. I want to take pictures of the big place.

So, again, like any responsible adult, I handed my 5.5 year old our DSLR. She did a fantastic job and captured these pics:

I was so impressed! I let her take a look at what she had done with that silly piece of metal and plastic and she proudly announced that she was now a true photographer.

I had no idea she even knew that that profession even existed!

But I made sure to capture the moment so she would always have a digital reminder of that experience. This wasn’t her first time handling a device that captured images but it was the first time she had handled a real camera and more importantly called herself a photographer.

Who knows what will happen and if she pursues it any farther but it doesn’t matter – what did matter to me was the transformation I saw before my eyes as she felt a part of a larger picture, a larger framework of understanding, even if it was just mother nature at this moment in time.

I personally believe that I am a part of a much larger story – it’s a greater purpose that drives much of what I do and I believe it’s a fundamental part of not only being human but also achieving joy and satisfaction in what we do with our limited time here on planet earth.

Being connected to a much larger vision, a mission perhaps, is fuel to the fire that enables us to go further than we thought we could. That’s why the things that really matter to you, those things that you have a lot of energy around, passion perhaps, that you may not be compensated for, those things are the things that really drive you and make your existence matter.

I think my 5 year old experienced that. She felt it. She liked it, and she wanted to document it and capture it so that she wouldn’t forget it. I loved witnessing that and it put this vacation at the top of the list for our “family” vacations together!

And, of course, I can’t wait to witness the same type of thing with our second daughter – if history proves a pattern then she’ll get to it sooner than our first.

I just need to be ready and available to see it happen.

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John

Hacker. Human.