Wednesday, September 13, 2006

But Tomorrow is a Monday Morning

The crowd roars, the team exults and the banner proclaims “we are the champions!”

What scene are we describing here? Wall Street? The mortgage closing table? The local florist after a big order?

Of course not. This is a sports scene. You know this instantly. Of course, all of the other possibilities I mentioned are much more important in the grand scheme of things than whether a group of 11 guys managed to score an extra touchdown than some other group of 11 guys. But the football season has something to it that regular daily business does not, that makes the celebration natural, even inevitable.

And you’re going to say, “of course. It has the Super Bowl,” but you’re only half right. It does, indeed have the Super Bowl. But the Super Bowl is just a game, except for one thing – it is followed by an 8-month stretch wherein the winner can say to the world “we are the best team in football.” In other words, what makes the Super Bowl the Super Bowl is the offseason.

Humans are set up to have an offseason. We all come originally out of farming stock, and farmers wrap things up in October. They don’t plant again until March or April. True, there’s lots to be done in the winter, but it’s different stuff and generally not as much work as the spring and summer. There’s a break, a natural time off. Enjoy the harvest. Job well done.

Now take your job. Does any of this sound familiar? No? Not to me, either. I consider that this week I will close five loans – by any measure a good week – and that three of them have taken longer than two months to get here. It will be a huge relief to get them off the table. One of them has taken almost two years. That one’s a killer, and it’s going to be done. Finished. I should be exultant and there should be cheering and a banner. Except, oh except.

What about the Kunzler deal? What about the Newmans? The Hadfields? The Hamptons? Etc. See, getting these loans done this week is very like the end of a long, tough season in which we will have emerged victorious. Problem is, there’s another game next week. The Super Bowl wouldn’t matter figs if it was only one game in a year-round season, would it? Yep, you’re the champions. This week. Next week, who knows?

Wouldn’t you like to have an offseason at your job? You get that huge contract taken care of, land that big deal, finish 8 months of perfect attendance, whatever it is. I don’t care if it’s setting a new record for sacking groceries. Wouldn’t you like to have your parade? Or, if like my father you pooh-pooh ceremonies, wouldn’t you at least like to take the winter (or the summer) off?

But we don’t do this. Our lives are not constructed this way, in connection with natural rhythms, even though we ourselves are, I believe. I think this is bad. By “bad”, I mean destructive of relationships, physical and emotional health, and spiritual peace. There is some evidence to support this conclusion, which if I were more industrious, or a researcher instead of a mortgage guy that happens to blog, I would look it up. But frankly, I don’t need to. I feel it. I bet you feel it, too. We feel the euphoria of winning that last game before the long offseason, and we feel the lack of any such thing in our lives. Witness the impossible popularity of sports, of video games, of fantasy sports, for crying out loud. People need this stuff.

So what do we do? Ah, here’s my problem. I don’t know. I’ve been thinking about it for years, and have no better solutions now than I did when I started. Do you know what to do about it? Am I just crazy?


Anonymous Tod Hansmann said...

Well, personally speaking, my plan is to start a few simple startups, grow the ones that survive, expand on them quickly, and sell them to a bigger company. Take my 6.7 Million dollars and retire, taking the rest of my life to do amazing things one normally wouldn't get paid for (like teaching high school kids why they're bored all day).

There are other routes to the same, but they usually involve resources I don't have. I think in the end, though, you just need to arrange priorities. Everybody needs to do SOMEthing, and to be honest, I would prefer to be productive rather than what most sports players do in their off season lives. In that regard, I think you and I may have a slight advantage. Now if only our salaries compared.

2:12 AM  

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