“Let the weight of the world drift away instead” – Beck
These lines are from one of my favourite songs – “Golden Age”, by Beck. It’s taken from an album called “Sea Change”, and is by far one of the most sublime, peaceful and calm albums I own.
Since I bought it for Belinda about 10 years ago, it became an instant ritual that we played it whenever we got out of Sydney. Whether on a short day trip, or heading away for a long holiday up or down the coast, the opening chords of Beck’s acoustic guitar would always be our signal that we were leaving the rat race for a little peace and quiet.
Please check it out. You’ll love it.
(ASIDE: Until writing this post and including the above link, I’d never seen the video clip. Ironic / fitting that it starts with footage of someone driving away on a deserted road…)
Back to today, and a slightly different take on this song, and its significance to me.
Today, I drove out of Sydney with Bel & the kids to visit my brother Mitchell & his girlfriend Danielle, who have just returned from almost two years of living abroad in Canada. For some reason, this time around, we didn’t play this song as we left Sydney.
I only realised late in the evening, because my son Rilien was over-tired, and completely off the wall when it came to bed time. We had to resort to singing to him to calm him and get him ready for sleep.
I have a couple of songs up my sleeve for this occasion – “Better Be Home Soon” by Crowded House, “Everybody Here Wants You” by Jeff Buckley, and “Golden Age” by Beck. These are my go-to standards, a) because they’re soft, peaceful songs, b) because they’re in the right register for my voice, and c) because I actually know all the words.
Belinda told me tonight that when I was away in Fargo, Rilien would ask her to sing “Golden Age” to him every night before he went to sleep.
Every. Single. Night.
It was simultaneously beautiful and heartbreaking. It made me love my son even more, and made me miss him enormously – even though I was laying right next to him, singing. I actually got a bit choked up part way through the song, thinking of my wife singing this to him while I was almost 9,000 miles away in Fargo.
It made me think: our kids need us a LOT more than our rat-race society would have us believe.
If you have children, and you travel a lot without them, I GUARANTEE YOU, they miss you. Terribly. Every time you go away. To think that they don’t, is just plain foolish.
When you leave, you take away their anchor, their compass, their guiding force. You, as their parent, are a glowing beacon for them when the lights go out and the closet is filled with monsters.
The whole argument of “they’re too young to realise” is a load of BS. They realise. They know you’re not around, and they miss you. And it affects them.
Rilien – at just 2.5 years old – didn’t want me to leave the house without him for the entire week after I returned. He would cry, almost hysterically, if I left for just over an hour to photograph a family.
If you travel a lot for work, I’d ask you this: What is the opportunity cost of your travel?
Sure, you might earn big bucks. You might have the fancy home, and the great car. Maybe even a boat.
But what about your kids? What about your family? What about the things that REALLY MATTER, when all is said and done?
When you’re laying on my death-bed, will you think “I wish I’d bought the Aston Martin, instead of the BMW”, or will you think “I wish I’d spent more time with my kids when they were young”?
I’ll take family time over disposable income, every day of the week and twice on Sundays.
What about you?
Today’s slightly challenging subject matter is brought to you by two different “sponsors”.
1) This TED Talk by Deb Dewitz. I watched it a week or so back, and cried like a baby. It contains a powerful message about prioritising your family.
2) A presentation I’m giving in a few weeks, titled “The Life of Your Dreams: An Alternative Approach to Business, Life and What Really Matters”. If you’re in Newcastle, NSW, please come along. It’s free and open to anyone and everyone.