Lifecycling: Spending Our Tomorrows

October, 2016
by Susan Kenny Stevens, Ph.D.

I recently heard an interview with Vin Scully, the LA Dodgers’ iconic play-by-play announcer.  Scully enthusiastically reflected on his now legendary 67-year career, which began back when the Dodgers were still a Brooklyn team.  When asked what’s next, Scully said simply, “I’ll be spending my tomorrows with family.”

Spending our tomorrows.  Wherever we are in our work or personal lifecycle — beginning, middle or end — reflecting on our tomorrows can be a purposeful exercise.

A few years ago my husband had a major heart attack – a cardiac event as one of the doctor’s euphemistically put it.  It happened while driving, luckily on a road with little traffic.  Without warning, he passed out at the wheel in what we later learned was a 100% blockage of the LAD.  They call this particular heart attack the widow-maker. But, thanks to the quick attention of passers-by and a crack medical team at the Mayo Clinic, my husband beat the odds. He lived. Truly an angel-on-your-shoulder moment for him.  When life is spared this dramatically, every tomorrow becomes a big, big deal

Luckily, the rest of us don’t need a life-threatening episode to think about our own tomorrows.

One of my new favorite things is talking to Uber drivers. It’s both interesting and instructive to learn why they’ve chosen to drive around others at this point in life. For many of my Arizona drivers, Uber is more than a job.  It’s a transition from a prior career to something yet to come.  Some have moved on from the old job completely, others are still in process.

In the past couple months, I’ve had three memorable rides.  The first from a fellow who, within blocks of picking me up, told me he’d previously been a professional bull rider. When his body couldn’t take that anymore, he became a rodeo clown, and for the better part of thirty years distracted bulls when their riders were in trouble.

On another trip, my driver, John, shared a story of a directionally challenged passenger.  Without realizing what I was getting myself into, I commented that “north is always north.” With both sincerity and patience, driver John explained that, actually, north is not always north.  There is true north and magnetic north, also called magnetic declination.  And there I was, in an Uber, getting a lesson from a former engineer turned Uber driver, on the earth’s magnetic field — and just weeks before that, an introduction to professional bull riding from a former rodeo clown.  Spending their tomorrows.

(PS.  That magnetic declination concept will find its way back in my future writings.  I have a feeling it’s an apt metaphor for my work with nonprofits, or maybe even my own life path.)

One more Uber story. Last May, following a long road trip from Minnesota to Arizona, we stopped in Flagstaff for the night.  Tired of driving, we ubered to dinner.  Our driver was a young man who had graduated from college the preceding day. When I casually asked what he hoped to do with his life now that he was out of school, he replied “be an astronaut.”  Immediately (and skeptically), I channeled that Harry Chapin song, Taxi: She was going to be an actress and I was going to learn to fly.But, no.  We were actually his last fare of the day. The following morning, he and his dad were taking off for the Airforce Academy where this young Uber driver, with his newly minted BS in Physics and Astronomy, would continue his career path into outer space.  Spending his tomorrows.

Ordinary people. Ordinary lives lived intentionally.

The young and the seasoned. Spending their tomorrows in ways unlike yesterday.

Un-trapped. Betting on themselves. Taking chances on tomorrow.

How will you spend your tomorrows?