Recently I have felt a little overwhelmed by the myriad things that come across my plate every day. All of it manageable – but in all honestly – I don’t think I am making the best use of my time. Somehow, my end of the sofa seems to have contracted – and I want to address it.
More than anything – I want to clear out the expectations I have of myself so that I can look around with clarity.
I’ve been thinking about all this for a while. But not quite got my ass into gear. Until the other night when I was watching Billions, a vicious TV series that pits a ruthless U.S. Attorney, Chuck Rhodes, against a ‘can’t-touch-me’ hedge-fund king Bobby Axelrod.
Rhodes has never lost an insider trading case, so when evidence of criminal activity turns up against Axelrod, he decides to proceed cautiously. Rhodes is an ambitious man; and he knows a win here could put him in the White House. But it’s no plain sailing – Axelrod has brains, ability and more money than god, but even more than that, he loves the game.
Axelrod employs Rhodes’ wife Wendy, as a psychologist/performance coach for his company. Wendy, who has been in her position longer than Chuck has been in his, refuses to give up her career for her husband’s legal crusade against Axelrod. She is literally in the middle. By choice.
So far, so Shakespeare.
Bobby Axelrod has a right hand man (“you’re my rapacious scumbag”) – Mike ‘Wags’ Wagner. Sweet puppyish name for a misogynist psychopath. The kind of man who sets up one of the firm’s top brokers because she is female and because she demanded more compensation. Maria has received an offer from another company – and is using this to leverage Axe Capital. Furious that anyone would do this to Axe, and by extension him, ‘Wags’ decides to meet the offer – showing Maria an unexpected degree of warmth, luring her in. Meanwhile, as he tells Wendy happily in their session: he intends to spend the next two years crushing Maria. Freezing her out. Destroying her career. Rendering her unemployable.
Wendy thinks Maria is ‘badass’. That in this group of unprincipled men, she has held her own with ability and dignity. She wants her to succeed. So, in their next performance review during Maria’s recounting of the situation, she tells her:
“Close your eyes, picture yourself… at 80 years old.
You’re at your Sag Harbor place, on the front porch in a rocking chair.
See the view. Hear the sound of the water, the seagulls. Feel the summer breeze. And feel the arm of the chair as you slowly rock.
Now reflect on your life having decided to stay here at Axe Capital.
Your relationships here, your chances… to advance, to be fulfilled.
What are your days like?
Now… picture yourself having spent that time with Zenobia.
Who are you with?
What are your days like?
Were you able to rise?
Did you become a better version of yourself?”
Later in the show, we see Maria skipping to the door, her boxful of belongings in her arms. On her way to Zenobia.
Those questions stuck with me for days afterwards. Am I still able to rise? What do I want to have done by the time I am 80? What would a better version of me look like? So I have decided to take some time on the porch to figure them out.
Which means that (among a few other things) I won’t be writing for a while. It’s not the end of campari&sofa, Claudia will take both reins in her hands. And I will drop by from time to time. Hopefully the fog will clear and, by the time my chair has stopped rocking, I will know what I want.
Until then – so long and thanks for all the fish.*
(*Apologies to Douglas Adams.)