Years ago, before children and when life felt looser and more frivilous than it does now, I had an addiction to attending antique auctions. Each week I would check the newspapers to find the upcoming auctions in the area, snip out the ads, hang them on the refrigerator and plan my schedule to take in as many as I could. There were the more “polished” events with higher end merchandise and a more “professional” atmosphere and the “bargain basement” auctions, where I once purchased an antique, mahogany dresser with attached mirror for a whopping $10. I loved these ones especially – but it was all good. In those days, the auctions were attended primarily by dealers with some other collectors occasionally showing up in the crowd. I never liked when they were there – as they generally drove up the prices on things and changed the feeling of the experience. In fact, in order to justify my addiction, I became a dealer myself, so that I had an excuse to keep going and maybe re-coop some of the money I was spending. But that’s a whole other story and not where I am trying to go today. The one thing they all had in common, was the thrill of the hunt, the excitement of the deal, and thrill of a bid-won. Over the years, there were more and more final-end-users at these events which dampened the experience. In addition, I became a mom, and though I tried to bring my son, nestled in his baby-carrier on my back – it just wasn’t the same and I just couldn’t participate the way I had before, so my days as an antique auction attendee and dealer faded away.
But when I was there, each “auction house” had its standard staff at most events and the callers were the guys who really created the atmosphere that I so enjoyed. It was a game of waiting, waiting for the item you were interested in to come up to the block, waiting for the caller to set the opening bid and then waiting for the buyers to start bidding. The sound of the auctioneer’s rapid-fire speech, the skill of the bidder’s ability to reduce the increment of financial acceleration and the adrenaline that a coveted item could generate was all a part of the thrill. Until you heard the caller’s final utterance “All in and done… sold to number 17 for $75 dollars” (or whatever the closing bid was) it was a rush. It was the “last call” – quite literally. “All in and done” – sometimes I loved the sound of that phrase, particularly if I was the person who had won the bid and if it was a good price. But there were times, when it felt like torture. You had your chance, do you really want stop there? Can you afford to go just a little but higher ? Are you sticking to your plan, or are you going over what you budgeted for that item? ‘Cause once it’s all in and done, you don’t get another shot…
This phrase has popped into my head on and off throughout the years. “All in and Done” – is that as far as I am willing to go, willing to pay, willing to push? Sometimes the answer is “yes”, I am done, I have worked as hard as I can, spent enough of my resources on an activity and feel ready and satisfied that I have completed a job to my satisfaction. Sometimes however, the answer is “no”, I could go farther, work longer, do more and then I have a choice to make to see if I would like to stay in the game a little longer or gracefully “bow out”. It’s important to know your limits as you move forward. It helps to have a plan and stick to it. You don’t want to push yourself to the point of exhaustion and deplete your resources, but simultaneously, it does provide a certain sense of satisfaction to know you have given your all to a project, a task, a life. ‘Cause at the end of the day, when you hear that last call, how are you gonna feel about the effort you have put forth?
So I ask you today – are you all in and done?