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A couple of weeks ago, my dad gives me a call and tells me that he plans on renovating his roof and his neighbors, and if possible I should be on standby. Then last week my brother’s and he started working, after having us discussed that it should be okay and me not needing to come. Then the call came last week that they would need another pair of hands.

Prior to my leaving, we talked on the phone that the amount of work that needed to be done could take up a few days. I replied we’ll get it done before Sunday, so I could head back home. That would give us 2 full days (and technically Sunday – so 3 full days), to get the job done. My dad was not convinced, seeing the amount of work they had done the previous days, and told me I should be prepared. I told him I always am. I love a good challenge.

We planned our family calendar accordingly, as it was a busy weekend and my wife would have the kids and dog while I went down to help out. But it all worked out great. I booked my ticket for Thursday afternoon the night before. Thursday I packed a sports bag with essentials and then when the time came the family sent me off. And then the journey began.

I took an electric scooter from our home to the main train station.

After grabbing some drinks and pretzels for the trip, with roughly 20 minutes until the train arrived, I got to the platform.

The one thing I really noticed while standing there was how much I missed traveling. Yes, we do a lot. We are consistently outdoors, discovering, wandering, visiting, and so forth, however primarily by car or as local as possible by bike/walking. But that feeling of traveling, not worrying about the need to drive and be awake overcame me as I was standing there, sun shining, and the train rolling in on the platform.

I needed to make two changes along my route, the first being in Koeln, however, the train arrived late, and hence I missed my connection. I got back on the train I was on previously, which was heading to Munich, and I was told I could either make the change in Stuttgart or go all the way to Munich and head backward. Furthermore, I like the use of my time to be fairly efficient, especially when traveling, so I opted to see if I could make the switch in Stuttgart. However, the catch was that we would arrive at 18:08 and so would the connecting train. But I thought to myself, game on. If we could arrive on time I’ll risk it.

Albeit the need to wear a mask, I got up once or twice from my seat headed to the end sections (closed off by doors) dropped the mask, and ate a pretzel. There was no one around the area and out of respect to the other passengers I figured this practical. Shortly before Stuttgart, I checked our schedule, and we were on time. Packing my notebook and belongings, I stood by the door as we pulled into the station and saw the other train pulling in as well. The funny thing was that I was at one end of my train, while the other connecting train was at the other end of the platform because it was shorter, meaning I would have to run half the length of my train to get to the first door. Knee brace on, challenge on, let’s do this. The train halted, the door opened, and off I went, dodging people and running as close as possible to the edge of the opposite platform to have a straight path towards the next train. Right as I was approaching the train I saw the conductor, made a waving signal, and with roughly 50 meters to go, the last announcement made and hearing the whistle, I gave it one last sprint and I guess in between the conductors’ kindness and my luck I made it to the door and got on.

Having caught the train, the initial thing that frustrated me earlier now faded away as I now would get to my end stop 30min earlier than my original route. Karma I guess.

The train ride was comfortable, and the train was fairly empty, with the route being an odd one off the main train stations. But as long as we stayed on schedule, all was good.

We then arrived, and I had one more regional train to take which was packed like Sardines, but finally, after several hours of traveling, I had arrived.

It was Thursday evening, 21:20.

Friday morning we got up, everyone was out of the house until later that day (work-related). So I had my coffee and at 07:30 got to work. A mix of stones, gravel, large concrete blocks, felt and other stuff needed to come down. It took about an hour to get into the flow as things that should be done, but going up and down and back and forth with the wheelbarrow and shoveling on top of the roof, gave me this instant gratification. At the same time, my mind was focusing on getting this done, exact, clean, but quick. It was this personal challenge to see what my aching body was still capable of.

 

And man was it fun!

After getting into a routine, later that day one by one everyone came home and began pitching in. It was like a well-oiled machine running at high speed. Piece by piece and section by section, seeing the fruits of your labor gave me the motivation to want to work faster.

I was happy. I was doing something physically besides sitting in a chair in front of a screen. I was challenging myself on top of the physical pains I had. And I loved it.

We had a great day’s work and aside from a short breakfast and lunch break did a 12-hour day on Friday getting more done than expected. I must admit, though, that after showering, my body felt like a steam roller had smashed it. My forearms, my shoulders, my back, my knees, everything felt like it was falling apart. But it felt good. So I stretched a bit and then hit the sack.

At roughly 22:00 the lights went out. (That is early for me. I tend to go to bed somewhere after midnight).

The next morning, after a deep night’s sleep, waking at 07:00 I felt amazingly good. The only soreness I had was a bit in my lower back. Everything else seemed to have vanished.

So at 07:30, we got back at it. My brothers joined in shortly after, and our well-oiled machine was back at it. I told them that I want to be done this afternoon and that we were going to smash it. And ultimately, section after section, we did. The sun was hot, it was warm. The sky was blue. Standing on that roof overlooking the horizon looking at what we accomplished by 16:00 on Saturday afternoon, I realized again, that the experiences you create through moments in life have far more value in terms of the definition of success than all the material things we have or strive to achieve.

I share this personal story for a specific reason.

As I mentioned above the two photos in my last sentence, the experience of doing something that challenges you on multiple layers (physical, mental, physiological), will awaken more satisfaction within you than outsourcing a task because you do not want to confront it or think your time is too precious for it, and so forth. Having the time to create moments, as in my case working with a family that I do not see regularly, creates an experience and a snapshot in my memory that money can’t buy. Sometimes you need to challenge your personal status quo, to see what you’re capable of, because we are far more capable of doing things and achieving beyond what we believe our limits are.

Challenge yourself, everyday.

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