Onsen in a blizzard

Onsen in a blizzard
This image was created with the assistance of DALL·E 3

My youngest son leaps from the bed to a futon below. My wife and I scold all three kids in unison, urging them to calm down and keep quiet. We envisioned this spontaneous weekend trip as a fun escape, but the usual chaos brought by three little ones is turning it more stressful than relaxing. I anticipate the hotel neighbors knocking on the wall any moment now.

As the New Year holiday concludes in Japan, my thoughts meander through the past year. The relentless energy and noise from our three kids often mirror the tumultuous days at my startup.

There were highs and lows, sometimes within the same week, day, or even hour.

We secured a new client.

One of our client’s insurance enrollments was rejected again.

We introduced a new product.

Our server crashed.

A lively holiday Zoom party revealed amusing quirks about each teammate.

Tensions escalated, making me fear a potential team burnout or mass resignation by week’s end.

My contemplation is interrupted by my middle son, who starts pressing buttons on the hotel phone…

"Put that down!"

We convinced investors to inject more funds,
Yet we’re still setting up our billing system.

We earned high praise and gained new customers through word-of-mouth,
But one negative comment in the same thread lingers in my mind.

"If I have to warn you again about jumping on the bed, we’re heading home tonight."

One day, a team meeting leaves everyone feeling aligned and collaborative,
The next day, an inexplicable tension arises, akin to a mutiny.

"Okay, boys, time to head to the hot spring. Get your shoes on."

This should be interesting. It’s snowing heavily outside. The hotel’s hot spring is on the second floor, outdoors.

We shower and step outside. The pressure difference makes the door hard to open, but the chill of the cold air is bracing on our bare skin.

Finally, in the hot spring, I feel a sense of anticipation. I’ve often had my best ideas during the peace and quiet of a good soak.

But experiencing it in a snowstorm is a first for me.

The two extremes feel oddly familiar. Immersed in 41-degree water, buffeted by a harsh, snowy wind at -2 degrees.

It’s like life at a startup. In a single day, you might revel in positive feedback, new customer sign-ups, and innovative product ideas. Simultaneously, you grapple with stress, burnout, internal conflicts, teammates in tears, disgruntled customers, urgent fixes, embarrassing bugs, and server outages.

Some thrive at these two extremes simultaneously.

In that moment, peace came. It was clear and sharp. The cold and the heat, different, yet one needed the other. Life was like that – harsh, then comforting. I accepted it all, the hard with the easy. Balance wasn’t about avoiding, it was about enduring and finding meaning.