Vail Daily column: A very difficult season | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: A very difficult season

Benjamin A. Gochberg
Valley Voices

We only have so many hours in a day. This is becoming clearer to me as time flies on. In my teen years I could never imagine a future in which I would someday run out of time. Most of life was ahead of me. Hopefully this is still the case.

In a given day, much of our time is already allocated. Some hours are necessarily spent on sleep. Even as some of us become accustomed to sleeping less, most only have at maximum 18 hours a day of sustainable time in which to perform other activities.

It is what we do in those 18 hours or less that begins to shape our lives. Getting ready for the day when we wake up — that’s likely an hour. The 20-minute commute one way from Eagle — that’s 40 minutes a day. Stopping for coffee and waiting in line — five minutes.

Then there is our work, customarily eight hours at minimum of our day. For many of us, the hours spent on work might be significantly more.

After work, if we’re lucky, there might be two to four hours of potential productive time in which to do other things. It is those two to four hours of time after the traditional work day that I’d like to ask us to pay close attention to for a moment.

How do you use them? For most of us, we might have family or friend commitments, yard work or house work. We might decide to sit down and watch a game on TV, have a drink, read, run — whatever. Many of those things that require those few hours are productive. Some are clearly not.

One of the men that woke me up to the idea that I needed to be productive during my off hours gave me the lesson first around seven years ago. Most of us provide for our lifestyles with what we do during the day, but the only way to get truly ahead in life is by what we do, and don’t do, in our off-hours.

It can be hard to take some of that leisure time and put it to good use, especially in a culture in which our work and play is customarily separate. Many of us have loved ones that would miss our presence if we chose to use our time differently, and indeed, for a season it might be a difficult situation.

In your case though, would you rather have a very difficult season or a very normal life? Allegedly, the normal life is acceptable. It’s comfortable. People who choose the normal life will rarely be challenged for their choices. Those of us who choose the normal life will raise up a generation of normal people, who only further justify that we accomplished all that we could and should have in our own lives.

I’ll wager that most of us, however, want something a bit more. The amazing truth about life is that most of us have already gone through a difficult season or two — it just wasn’t by our own choosing. We know what it feels like though. We know what happens on the other end of the difficult season, too — it’s called growth, progress and success. After all, you’re still alive, right?

What happens if you choose your next difficult season? What if you choose to do more than you currently think is reasonable? What if you took those two to four hours of time and decided that you were going to do something extraordinary?

Most of us already know what would happen. Though the use of the time might be “difficult” to endure at first, we would start to grow. We would start to gain traction. Obstacles would fall away. Progress would be made.

The old self — that self which never committed to begin the journey — would die. It would be a memory of what we once were — how pitiful or weak that man or woman was. The new self would rise out of the relative obscurity of our own free time.

Then the day would come when victory could finally be declared, for we had accomplished the very thing which we had set out to do in the beginning.

But we can’t stop — no.

Now we know too much. Now we know that in truth there was never any obstacle formed that could not be overcome. Now we recognize the struggle as the evidence of the future success. Now, we cannot help but declare for ourselves one more difficult season after another after another after another. We seek it out. We have become accustomed to the discomfort of the struggle.

Perhaps one day in the distant future there will be a rest. For now, we take those few hours and place them on the altar for sacrifice … Those who came before us know that they are paid back seven-fold.

Ben Gochberg is a commercial lender and business finance consultant. He plays, lives, works and is trying to do a little good in Eagle County. He can be reached for business inquiries or free consultation at 970-471-3546.