I’ve been under a lot of pressure lately—who hasn’t?—and, in these types of situations, I find it helpful to put my priorities down on paper as a reminder of where I need to be focussing my energies, even in difficult times. So here goes:
My first most important priority is my mental well-being. That’s where everything begins and ends. Mental health is essential, full stop.
My second most important priority? That’s easy. It’s the corollary of my mental well-being: my physical well-being. The fact is, if my body feels good, my mind feels good. And I can make that happen by eating right, exercising regularly, and—here’s the big one—getting a full eight hours of sleep every night, no matter how tough that might be in moments of duress.
My third most important priority is the recent kidnapping of my son, and the ongoing efforts undertaken by myself, my wife, and regional and federal law enforcement to safely recover him. This is one of those things I try not to stress out about, but I really can’t overstate the importance of meeting the kidnappers’ demands and bringing Aaron home safe and sound—assuming, of course, that I’ve already tended to my mental and physical well-being.
My fourth most important priority might seem a little silly, but it’s crucial that I have the chance to wake up every morning and drink a strong cup of coffee and read the newspaper, no matter what other stuff is going on. Little rituals like this are more nourishing than you would think, and it’s important to make time for them, even when my wife is pacing in the background, going on about “Why haven’t we heard anything,” “I hope Aaron is alive,” and so on. And, yes, that includes the crossword!
My fifth most important priority is my spiritual well-being. There are so many ways to nurture it. Do some yoga! Listen to a meditation app while you’re “awaiting further instructions”! Or, heck, maybe blow off the whole “further instructions” rigmarole entirely and treat yourself to a spa day! We spend too much time in this life fretting and fussing about the little things.
So just relax—the bills will get paid, the sun will rise again, and that’s probably not even Aaron’s thumb.
My sixth most important priority, I would say, is either saving up enough money to buy a second Sea-Doo (might spring for the Rotax three-hundred-horsepower engine this time) or my family. Actually, no, it’s definitely my family—they’re the best! My wife, Aaron, even Special Agent Harris, who, at this point, spends enough time in my kitchen silently mouthing instructions to me as I negotiate with my son’s abductors that he’s practically family. Congratulations, Special Agent Harris—you’re an honorary member of the Benson tribe!
So then the second Sea-Doo (with the Rotax engine) is my seventh most important priority, which makes my eighth most important priority just kicking back and having a good time! Lately, I’ve been really into this Penguin Party blackjack game I’ve got on my iPad. It’s just like the regular blackjack they’ve got on the riverboats, but with a fun, penguin-y twist! How it works is that you earn special multipliers that boost your payout when you hit it big—the multipliers are all named after various penguin species (emperor, rockhopper, gentoo, etc.). I don’t play with real money, but it’s still super fun when you get on a hot streak, picking up multipliers left and right, until you’ve maxed out on Penguin Perks and the screen is totally crowded with penguins! Then it’s the Iceberg Bonus Round, baby.
Anyway, I could go on, but this is a good start when it comes to my priorities. Hopefully this list helps a lot of people. Also, if anyone reading this has seen Aaron, please let us know. He’s got brown hair, between one and two thumbs, and he’s really just a great guy all around.