I thought about writing a failure resume for today, my birthday. There’s certainly plenty for me to look back on—five decades of projects and teams and conferences and communities and jobs and personal goals, fifty years of announcing my ambitions and grand ideas and promises, a long list of ways I tried, succeeded or failed, let people down or built them up, how I wised up and what I learned.
But I woke up this morning knowing it was to be a day off of work and a sliver of a moment to put these pandemic anxieties aside (I’ve been sheltering in place for two weeks now, and following global and national news carefully, and working 12 hours a day to do my part for the Duke Department of Medicine). Erin was beside me, wishing me a special day, and I felt nothing but fortunate.
“What do you want to do today?” she asked.
“I want to run, blog, read, and garden,” I said.
So off I went for a run in the cool, sunny morning, and as I made my way west down the gravel road, my long shadow ran in front of me. It seemed to be telling me something about that failure resume.
“You’ve already been blogging for nearly 20 years, and you’ve chronicled your life and your learning. You’re right where you need to be, in the moment, the road and the rest of your life ahead. Yol bolsun!”
I was supposed to be in New Orleans for a conference, speaking on a panel and receiving an honorable mention award for Voices of Duke Health, then flying to St. Croix to meet the family for spring break. But all that’s changed, and here I was staying home in Chapel Hill.
I ran on, onto the trail near the lake, in the moment, up and down, and back to the house, where I sat with Oliver at the table, listening to his presentations about Atlantic salmon and Shanghai skyscrapers, then reading more of Apeirogon by Colum McCann.
Now, it’s time to plant wildflowers.
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