At peace with Inbox Full

I once tried to drive over a hill in British Columbia in a Pontiac Firefly on a road of dirt and rock. Up and up we went, my girlfriend and me, and my constant conviction was that we were nearing the summit and would be in the next town before dark. An east coast boy who’d never seen a real mountain, I clung to my belief for several hours as our wheels spun and rocks went flying and my future wife tried to talk sense to me and that summit never appeared.

In the 25 years since, I have learned a bit about mountains.

Work is like a mountain. You reach one goal only to have a new goal appear before you. You will never catch up. When you realize you’re okay with this, you can turn around once in a while and enjoy the view. All the great stuff happens on your way to an inspiring but ultimately unreachable destination.

“Inbox zero”: Most of us don’t receive email so much as bathe in its stream. Keeping on top of it is not a worthwhile goal.

“I need to put in some extra hours”: Sometimes, sure. Projects have deadlines. But all the time? That’s chasing a phantom notion of “done”.

“We’ll get there”: There is no “there”.

Sometimes we’re on a quixotic uphill drive and should stop, but if our vision is true we should ignore the impossibility of arrival and keep on going.

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