I Just Want to Drive a Zamboni

It's a metaphor, kind of

I’m feeling oddly sedate this evening. It’s just after my son’s hockey game and I have about 15 minutes before he’s out of the dressing room. I’m watching that Zamboni go around in circles on the ice, thinking about how pleasant a job that might be.

What’s happened to me? I’m not looking at stock prices, reviewing emails from my business partner, or contemplating Middle East politics. I’m just watching that guy going around in circles and feeling kind of… content?

When I sold my business, Audiobooks.com, eight years ago, it was to get into venture capital. That didn’t take, and I largely left that industry two years later. I didn’t need to work, not for money anyway, my proceeds from the sale set me up for an extravagant life, for life, as it were.

And yet, after getting out of professional investing, I felt the urge to do something productive. My mind couldn’t wrap itself around the notion that I could just enjoy the life I had. Focus on my family, smell some roses. Stare out a window.

I opened a bar, then I opened a restaurant. Then I opened a few cannabis stores and started a charity, funding mental health research using psychedelics. I even funded a documentary! Man, was I being productive!

But I wasn’t being productive, not really. I was spending money. On worthwhile, or fun, or doomed projects, but I was just spending money. Six years and too many millions in losses later I retain the hope that the remnants of these efforts may have an economic return, but as I write this I know. It’s gone.

What I really did was spend that money so that I could feel like I was doing something productive. I couldn’t stand the idea of standing still. And in the effort to be always moving, I moved backward. Economically at least.

During that same time I also did a lot of work on myself. Regular exercise. Psychedelics. Internal Family Systems. Meditation. A few months ago I even took up yoga.

And now I’m standing here watching that guy on the Zamboni and thinking, “I could be that guy.” Not out of a sense of giving up. Not out of a sense of worthlessness. It’s the opposite. I feel great just being alive.

My sense of self worth now doesn’t seem dependent on my bank balance, what I drive, or how many people come to a party I throw. It comes from a sense of the value of just being in existence. Look at me. I’m here. You’re here too! Isn’t that amazing?

I’m not writing this down to brag about some amazing transformation I’ve gone through. It’s just an acknowledgement that I’m not the same person I was ten years ago. And I like this me a lot better. I’ve finally managed to figure out and get comfortable with the idea that worth comes from relationships, not from material gains.

The ice is clean now for the next group of kids. No Zamboni driving for me. But I’m ok with the role I have — driving the Zamboni of life,  leaving as clean a playing surface as possible for the next generation of humans.

Sorry about the scuff marks along the boards. This thing is a lot harder to drive than it looks.

  1. Another hockey-themed story about reducing anxiety.

  2. Try some psychedelics to help you be more you.

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