An “Aha!” moment three decades in the making

Artist and philosopher Mitsuo Kakutani told me something that changed my life and business forever–though it only soaked in thirty years later. He said that in our twenties we kick up our heels; in our thirties we plant roots; in our forties we discover who we are; and in our fifties we find wisdom.

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As a very young man, kicking my heels fiercely, I barely comprehended his words. Now, three decades later, wisdom visits me on occasion.

He taught philosophy while teaching pottery. Digging the clay, building the wood-fired kiln, creating an artful utensil–every task offered a life lesson.
Being a philosopher of technology still gives me opportunities to find life lessons in common tasks. My area of expertise is security–arguably the most theoretical and philosophical area of technology today. Passwords, encryption and firewalls beg the deeper questions, “Who are we?” and “What is expected of us?”

However, a moment of wisdom struck me some months ago that impacted my business and life tremendously. My wife saw me serving my clients with phone calls and emails in my home office. She remarked plainly, “You can work from anywhere, can’t you?” “Yes,” I replied. “My clients are all around the world and I can reach them anytime using technology and an occasional face-to-face visit.”
Unaffected, and in a tone of voice that immediately told me I was walking into something, she simply repeated, “You can work from anywhere.”
“Yes…?,” I repeated, drawing the word out tentatively.
“Let’s move!” she blurted.

In a flash I recognised that I had lacked something I greatly desired. Only with her prompting did it dawn on me that while I frequently traveled internationally for work, I was not fulfilling my life-long dream of “living” and working internationally.

Now we live and work in Chicago, North Carolina, Buenos Aires and Manila…and everywhere else the Star Alliance flies us and Airbnb houses us.
Through my 30s I focused on building a family and career. In my 40s I focused on what I called “work/life balance.” Today however, work and life and travel and family no longer are separate boxes that need to be balanced. There are no divisions between them at all any more. They are all one thing–and it took me a lifetime of planting and self discovery to learn it.