The Long Game

It’s the day after Christmas. I was going through my old photos of Europe. I found this old unretouched one. It not only brought back a fond memory; it reminded me of why I took the photo in the first place. I wanted to preserve the moment to inform my future self.

This photo was taken on the lawn in back of the Eiffel Tower. You can see my teenage son napping on the lawn in a fetal position in the background.

It was the spring of 2012. I was living in Austin at the time with my son who was a Sophomore in high school. My daughter was studying in Paris enrolled in NYU’s prestigious semester abroad program. Every spring, the second week of March turned the city of Austin into a carnival. One of the country’s best festivals took place downtown: SXSW. Pre-pandemic, SXSW brought hundreds of thousands of festival goers to the Texas Capital. But, if you were an Austin resident, it was chaos and the traffic was more-than-usual insufferable.

I knew someone, okay a rich guy, who had a flat in Paris that he allowed his friends to use when he was not in town. I figured I had nothing to lose by asking if he would allow me to stay there, so I could have a nice Paris holiday with my kids, and avoid the SXSW madness. To my surprise, he did.

I remember exactly when I took this photo. My son was predictably acting like a moody teenager and expressing his indifference to our Parisian excursion. My daughter was happy to see us, and loved staying in the million dollar flat off of the Champs-Élysées. For about a week, we could pretend we lived a different life.

But the fact that we were all together in Paris, my son was well on his way to his own college journey, and my daughter was going to graduate with honors from NYU was a remarkable achievement.

I took this selfie to remind me… IT GETS BETTER.

I had come so far in my life, and I wanted to remind myself that even in times where it looks like there is no hope and no way out, you never know what the future holds. In nearly every circumstance when I’ve hit a low, the successive highs have been demonstrably better.

Life is a long game. Hold out for the upside. Even if you only see it sometimes in the rear-view mirror.

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