I sent another email to my friend a little while ago, and as I think about it, this part sums up my feelings at the moment very well:
The weird part about owning a biz is that you can't just leave. Well, you can, but you'd have to forfeit a lot of money, which I don't want to do. So the next step is working out an agreeable exit for me, either with the current partners, or an outside entity who would either want to (a) buy the entire company, (b) buy just my shares, or (c) buy a portion of my shares while the current partners buy the other shares.
It's hard to know if this is exactly the right thing to do, but for a while I have definitely felt like an athlete who knows they should retire, but they stay around a little too long.
I read some Carlos Castaneda books in college, and I remember him writing about having death as a friend that is always looking over your shoulder. I don't think it was meant to be a morbid thing, but as a thoughtful thing, something to make sure your actions are honorable, something like that. I have a Samurai book (Hagakure) and they mention the same thing. It's supposed to be a good thing that Death is always there w/ you, asking things like "If you die tomorrow will you be happy?"
So yesterday I turned and asked Death if I should stay, but he only said "What do you think?" Not much help there. :)
There's also a concept of a "tombstone test", meaning "When you die what do you want to have written on your tombstone?"
I also have this feeling that as a consultant, I'm always solving other people's problems, and I'm burned out on that. I'd love to be able to create something of my own, not for the money, but to create something really great, like a piece of art that stands the test of time. It doesn't have to be the most awesome thing in the world, but just a little something that has a positive impact on a few lives, or who knows, many lives.
Finally, I also don't want to be the guy that "Hung around just to get a good paycheck"; I _really_ don't like people like that, people that retire long before they leave.
He wrote back several things of interest, which he's allowed me to share here:
You've written, "If you die tomorrow will you be happy?" and "... try to do one thing that's truly great, by myself, something like art. .....and I'd like to be able to say that I did something like that."
Certainly a good question and a terrific goal. I feel that if you have a vision of this goal and the bug has got you...... go ahead and start taking the steps. Having a vision of this goal and living towards it...becomes like serendipity. You fulfill yourself and the goal at the same time.
Really how awesome is that? I believe you can do it, no matter the final design is unknown at this point. Doing this also answers that first question for you.
I do believe however you can die happy w/o something like this happening in life. That would be quite a discussion however, lol.
It sure is helpful to have someone to share these thoughts with, no matter how "ridiculous" my thoughts may be free time to time.