Another Way of LifeAug 28, 2010
by Dennis Blank
photo via pixabay
Dear Coach Lou: Well I've been so intently goofing off the past couple of weeks that I've got a lot of catching up to do. I traveled to the Northeast Kingdom in Vermont to visit my friends McRik, Dr. Green and their wives, the lovely and vivacious Gonzales sisters, and about ten of their kids, parents and friends. I stayed in the Greens' summer home, their retreat from life in London. I'd never been to that part of Vermont before and I heartily recommend it to anyone looking for a peaceful, beautiful and uncrowded vacation. Doc Green says it looks so pastoral and pristinely 19h century because Vermont had its economic peak in about 1820 and all that has survived are the best built buildings, stone walls and roads of their day.
There was a big party at their home on Saturday attended by about 40 of their local friends. I met some very interesting folks and caught a glimpse of American work life in the future. Almost everyone I met there had 2-3 jobs; not that they were necessarily working 60-70 hours a week, more like cobbling together several things to make a living and still enjoying the Vermont lifestyle; for example, cooking in a restaurant 3 days a week while working at the library the other two. Or carpentering as much as possible, but running a commercial vegetable farm on the side. On the high end, one guy I met makes glass plates and bowls in Vermont eight months a year, and spends the winter in Hawaii selling some pieces in his gallery there. Not so bad. They seemed happy and healthy and free of yuppie angst.
I got in a great back-road trip coming home. I took Vermont highway 14 south from Greenboro to the tiny capital of Montpelier (pop. 8000) and then down Highway 100 the entire length of the eastern slope of the Green Mountains - and they certainly are. It was a wonderful ride through storybook Vermont villages complete with white steepled churches and country general stores. I saw many beautiful little lakes and kids swimming in roadside brooks. The whole trip had a Norman Rockwell feel to it that would have been a little unbelievable if I hadn't spent time with real people living real lives there. I'm finding that the broader look I get of how people live the less worry I have about finding a new way to live in Life 3.0.
Shortly after I returned to the lake we had a visit from our old friends Sumner and Billy, both of whom are also constructing new work lives for themselves. This gave us new conversational topics to mix into our usual blend of exaggerated old stories, sports and grumpy-old-manism.
Next up: I'm heading to Warren for an extra-long Labor Day weekend. I'll take in a high school football game and attend a family party. Got any suggestions on other things to do in our old home town? Until then...
Well, it sounds as if the time in a picturesque setting, meeting people outside of the corporate world really gave you a new perspective. Since you didn't mention it, I wonder if you had the opportunity to discuss how you might contribute back to your hometown. If not, it doesn't seem to matter. You tuned into new approaches to life as well as indulged in some of your biggest values, entertaining (or in the case, being entertained), connecting and as you continue to do through this blog, writing. Let me add one more that you have not identified and that is beauty. You have an uncanny ability to see beauty in even the most mundane things, things that people would categorize as eyesores (such as the GM plant in Warren or the decaying city of Detroit).
In my estimation, you are already living Life 3.0 and having the opportunity to relish in those things that may have escaped you during your earlier years. All of the adventures that you have taken, even packing and moving, have fed you in some way. They have contributed to opening your eyes and allowing you to let go to fully embrace this era of your life. And you must keep writing about them.
As far as Warren goes, here is what I suggest. In the midst of parties and football games, use your talent to connect (network) and find out more about the incubator happening in the area. Contact your friends in politics and see what else is brewing. Have coffee with Melanie and pick her brain as well as catch up on life in Warren. Oh, and don't forget the Hot Dog shop. Make it one with chili and onions. Have fun.
Coach Lou is a co-founder of Chain Reaction Partners, an executive coaching and leadership training consultancy in Boulder, Colorado. d'blank is the author of The Daily Blank blog.