Santa Fe, New Mexico
by Bob Root
Both Wendy and I are future based people. We think about what could be although things in our lives sometimes drag us to the past where we have made mistakes or bad decisions. Sometimes, the trip to the past is a good one with lots of fond memories.
This year will mark our 20th anniversary of meeting for the first time near Santa Fe New Mexico. This meeting was by no uncertain terms the most defining moment in both of our lives. Our plan is to return to celebrate the event and to take some time to reflect on where we have come from and where we are going.
Our meeting was at a time when I would have to classify both of our lives as being warriors. Wendy was a big dog with Coke and me as a high tech CEO from Silicon Valley. These lives still haunt us, but far less then they used to. Said, we still can girth up with the best of corporate titans when we are threatened or attacked. The warriors still come out easily. So, when we reminisce about the past we have to separate the experiences of our old lives and the new life we began 20 years ago.
Picture two corporate executives, with teams in tow, heading from our respective corners of the country headed for a remote village and conference center near Santa Fe. The ropes course and three days of team based events were all the rage in the mid 90’s and were actually very effective in teaching teams of people how to play nicely and efficiently in the corporate sandbox. Now this is looked at as too fru-fru, but it served us well.
Both of us were living empty lives that were full of adventure, travel and change. Larry Wilson called the Pecos River Learning experience, “Play To Win.” His book of the same title depicted not only our story while at his ranch near Santa Fe, but our lives in corporate America as well. It is a bit strange to read a book where you are central characters. It is especially interesting to read about it 20 years later. The true defining moment is when we spied each other across the breakfast table when both of our lives went from empty to instantly full.
For me, the present is even better then when we met…a unbelievable as that may sound. Reflecting back now and writing this, my energy is renewed and both Wendy and I will tackle the future more positive and more like who we really are. Because in reality, as a few will soon find out, we are still warriors. Dream Warriors.
Our book, Defining Moments; A Brand New Day was published in 2000 and the reprint, (2012) Defining Moments; Living life Our Way at See Level chronicles the events of 20 years ago much better then I can do here. So, here is the opening preface to set the stage.
Happy Anniversary Sweetie!
Twelve Years Later…From Defining Moments by Bob Root and Wendy Steele
When we met in the mid-90’s, neither of us were looking for a relationship. It is safe to say that it was the last thing in our minds. We were both married to our careers and happy on the surface. Below the surface was our secret world where we both had given up on finding the right person. The reality was that our pace was so fast that for anyone to enter into our lives as individuals would have meant that they would first have to keep pace and fly in formation long enough for the other to notice. In a way that happened when we met. Contrary to the belief of many of our friends we did not slow down. Our pace increased as we sought out ways to be together.
For those that heard the story of our lives after meeting each other, they strained to understand how two people separated by the US continent about as far apart as two people could be to retain, maintain and expand a relationship. This is when we discovered what defining moments meant to us. Each was a proverbial “wormhole” compressing time and distance. We learned to find time to be together and compressed the time we were not into what felt like fractions of a second. Imagine, being together for a long weekend feeling like every moment was hours and then two or three weeks apart being compressed into feeling like a day or two. Long hours on the phone three time zones apart, we got to know each other, so when we were together, we began to seek out defining moments and plans to get together again and again until we could stand being apart no longer. What is important to understand is that this phenomena of time compression was what actually sparked the book concept originally. We could not seem to explain to our friends what it was like to realize that the more defining moments we embraced together the closer we became. These events and experiences actually began to make us one person made up of two extremely independent headstrong individuals. In the words of this book, we hoped that the readers would somehow gain from our experiences.
A car racing instructor friend of our taught us three very interesting philosophies:
- Look where you want to go!
- You first have to go slow to go fast
- and smoother is faster
Of course, David was talking about cars, but we learned it was true of relationships…at least for us. So, planning was important, practicing was imperative and being in the moment, or being smooth was the secret. Our plans were always down to the second and we visualized being together before actually being in the same proximity. When we got together, everything was smooth wasting no time. Truly being in the moment was so important because our time together was so fleeting. Yes, appreciation was everything that extended the feeling of our time together by a factor of three or four times. Turning a three-day weekend into what felt like ten or twelve days together became easy. Then when we were apart, using the skill of racing later articulated compressed being apart turning weeks into a few days.
Not many can understand this ability to decompress and compress time. That is why we struggled to communicate it in the original publication of Defining Moments. We hope that this explanation somehow further helps to frame our story as you read it.
Our reality is that it has been 18 or so years since we met and most people could not fathom the things we have done, places we have gone and projects we have accomplished all in our singular quest to experience the next defining moments in our lives together.
We are republishing Defining Moments twelve years later for two very special reasons. The most important is that the messages we described and our experiences in the mid-90’s are perhaps more important for our society than they were then. Secondly, a funny series of events inspired us to add back in the first chapter that was cut from the original book.
Please try and understand that Defining Moments was not written for a specific demographic or generation. It was and is a message for those willing to listen, stop, challenge and choose their life’s path. Because defining moments are individualized and only impactful for the person(s) that is experiencing it, there are no rules and no 12-step program to find the correct path. The journey is the reward and experiencing the moments one by one is the only thing that resembles a plan, program or a checklist. It is like setting out on a trip with no map and no destination. The only thing you have is a lightly packed backpack and each other.
If there is a true lesson in this book, it is that to discover defining moments in your life, you have to shed those things, people and beliefs that slow or stop you from your discoveries and dreams. Whether it is a parent wishing you to be a lawyer when you want to be a car mechanic or a friend that tells you that being an actor is frivolous, our message is you and only your intuition can be the inspiration for your direction. The book, “The 4 Hour Work Week,” contains the message to us of pick and choose only those things that propel you in the direction you are headed. Jettison all else! Hard is it may seem, it is a formula for freedom.
Adding, there is a very interesting property of quickly following your inspiration and defining moments. It is that making small steps quickly and early let you change direction or back up. Thinking about it, planning it and waiting too long make your reaction to defining moments less spontaneous and slows you down. Defining moments have a time window and expiration date. Hanging on to things, people and events you cannot control are too much added weight to carry along with you. The antithesis of embracing defining moments is being stuck.
Defining moments are all about left turns in the metaphoric sense. Think of your life as patterns that you create. Let’s say you normally turn right or act a certain way when you are confronted with change or a defining moment. All of your senses say turn right, but what if you turned left, backed up or went straight ahead instead? Does something in your head tell you that it is a mistake to respond differently? If you answer yes, then you are on your way. If you answer no, then whom is it telling you that you can’t? Who is it in your head telling you that it is wrong to act differently than the norm? What is normal any way? Is it your mother’s voice in your head, society’s voice in your head or your voice? Think about it, if your head is full of other peoples’ voices, how can you hear your own voice? How can you see a new direction? How can you feel your way through to the other side?
So try it out! Next time you are driving and come to an intersection where you always turn right, make a left. Notice the differences and when you feel like it, make another left and then another. Strangely enough, you are now heading in the direction you would have if you had made that right turn initially, but you are now on a different path. Not that it is a revelation, but three left turns do make a right turn!
The analogy for us is that we have been CNN free for ten years. That’s right, we do not watch the news because 99.9% of it is out of our control and negative. We are on our own path. Think about it. Ignorance is bliss. Think about when a person asks you what do you think about this politician or a situation, you can answer that you do not know because you do not watch the news! Now think about the space in your consciousness that this stuff takes up. Let’s say it is 50%. What if you had that extra 50% to focus on things that propel you farther in your life? Be it, work, hobbies, art, music, religion or anything, that extra space that is filled with other peoples’ junk is now free to use for you to fill with things that make you happy.
We have a phrase that we say under our breath when people come up to us and try to inflict their demons on us. We think to ourselves and have been known to blurt out a phrase. We say, “Don’t give us your screaming monkeys!” It simply means that do not give us your junk to carry around in life.
Think of life as a camping trip into the mountains. You have a backpack that can only carry so much. Do you fill it with other peoples’ gear or your own? Do you weigh it down with stuff you do not need?
The idea that you cannot control or need to control everything might disturb you. You might think it is some revolutionary idea that these two ex-corporate types dreamed up. This is not a new concept. Throughout the literature of history, philosophers have tried to share our natural need to focus only on what we can control. It may be best portrayed in what was a prayer written down by Reinhold Niebuhr in a sermon in 1943. The prayer had been orally handed down for many years prior and has become the designated prayer of Alcoholics Anonymous. To us it is merely a poem that represents what defining moments are and how to recognize them in our life together. It goes like this word for word.
God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
….and here is our version in the form of the Defining Moments mantra:
Give us the focus to accept with bliss the things that we cannot change, the insight to seek the things which we should change and the vision to not be distracted by people, things or words.
Living one defining moment at a time and enjoying the adventures, they bring.
Accepting our difference from most people as an enlightened pathway to the next defining moment.
With our own spirit to guide us, we follow defining moments trusting that another defining moment will create yet a new adventure and direction.
To vow to never let anyone give you their screaming monkeys! ;-]
Okay, it s a paraphrase at best and it sort of sums up our feelings and direction.
Wendy’s dad, Gordon, had bugged us to write an updated version to encompass all of our defining moments. Honestly, things have changed so fast for us that we are unable to start or finish the next sequel. For us, life has been a convergence of the movies, “What the Bleep” and “The Secret”. That has been the planned sequel to Defining Moments. The problem is for us that defining moments that seemed to come monthly are now daily. Who has time to write about it when you are in the midst of the fun and it never stops.
Funny, our original chapter 1 that was cut was our lives and was mimicked by the movie, “Up in the Air.” Is a writer following us?
Twelve years later, we have simplified our lives beyond what we wrote in 2000. We now have a personal care natural skin products company, published an industry book with another soon to be published, Bob is writing a novel or two and we have had many many defining moments that we have responded to as they have happened. We now live most of our time on the road living in a custom motor coach traveling for our business and punctuated by seeing North America at SeeLevel. “SeeLevel” is our term for experiencing the many wonders that one can experience by driving instead of flying. Our SeeLevel philosophy allows us to regularly stop what we are doing, challenge what we believe and choose a different path. We refer to ourselves as Chill Travelers because it exemplifies our lifestyle chasing our next defining moments.
As you read, remember that this is our story of how we met and how both of us could have easily not recognized this very special defining moment. It would have been easy in our fast-paced lives to have just blown off the encounter. Damn are we glad we did not because we found our soul mate, life’s partner, lover or whatever you want to call that very special time traveler that walks with you through life’s journey.
The second reason to republish this book is that we had an interesting experience while in New Mexico toward the end of 2009. Just a few days before Christmas, the movie “Up In The Air” was released with George Clooney. Our emails and phones buzzed with friends contacting us about the movie. It is a fun experience we had together based on this new movie that was all too familiar to us. The movie inspired us to add back in the first chapter of Defining Moments. Originally titled simply Chapter 1, we have added it back in using the title we gave it while sharing it with friends as a Microsoft Word document over the last twelve years. Chapter 0 was and now is a significant title with great meaning to us.
Read the rest of Defining Moments on Kindle. Click Here