This is not a technology posting, so please forgive me while I reflect on life, and what we make important. I am reminded of how we need to do this as I am, at age 46, watching people I know and love in the flight for their life with cancer or other serious illnesses. All of a sudden as the gray hair starts to show up and my beard requires a little “touch up” I find myself looking in the mirror.
I have a friend. We’ll call him John. He’s a retired member of an elite fighting unit of our US military. He’s a wonderful father. He’s a wonderful husband (according to his wife) and he’s a great friend. He’s sacrificed for his country and his family over and over again. When we should be enjoying watching his kids getting ready to graduate he’s being evaluated for an experimental procedure to hopefully save his life. His cancer is inoperable. Grade 4 Glioblastoma brain cancer.
John is not the only one. I have others I know with various diseases and such, and not from smoking, heavy drinking, etc. Not surprisingly, NONE of these people planned on getting sick, and if you knew them you would be blow away that they are fighting these battles. IN three weeks we are having the memorial service for my father who recently passed away at 79 years old. In the past few months I have been reminded that death is an appointment we all have. I was first reminded of that six years ago when I ended up in a Toronto ER with a suspected heart attack (thankfully it was not). So I think it is time to reflect on what is most important.
My dad shared some of his greatest regrets shortly before he passed. Mainly that he didn’t make spending time with family a priority. He shared that he was “cheap with mom” when he had more than enough money but decided something was too expensive. He regretted spending too much time at his computer. I could go on and on. But as I heard his list it brought tears to my eyes, because ALL OF HIS REGRETS WERE AVOIDABLE. But dad, like many, think they are going to live forever. I thought that too until I ended up in the back of a Toronto ambulance with tubes sticking out of me. The text I got from my daughter said it all. “Daddy, are you going to die?” How fucked up is that? Seriously…for a little girl to have to ask her dad who is 1500 miles away is he’s coming home is too much. Then to ask my then 13 year old son to be the man of the house if something happened to me. Another moment I wish I never had to do. But I had to do it. So where does that bring me?
I am not going to go through all of the regrets I have. I have tried to be a good husband and honor my marriage and take care of my family as best as I can. But I will tell you the biggest regret I have is allowing other people to influence me when it comes to doing the things that I love and being who I am. So if you are one of those people who lovingly told me what I was doing, or wanted to do, was a somehow wrong (in your eyes, in the eyes of the church, parents, etc) then please understand…I will allow you to influence me no more.
From now on, if I want to sleep in on a Sunday, I will. If I want to go to the beach and drink until I can’t see straight while flying a rainbow kite, I will. If I want to dance naked in the rain in my back yard or at the local nudist resort, I will. If I want to buy my wife a beautiful sports car, I will. If I want to pay for First Class on a plane (I don’t need to…I always get upgraded) then I will. If I want to vote for a Democrat instead of a Republican, I will. If I want to order extra cheese on my pizza and have Italian sausage, I will. If I want to pay for a good glass of wine over the house stuff, I will. You see the trend here…I’ll do whatever I want to do to make ME happy. BUT…
Much of what makes me happy is spending time with my family. Truth is, I can do everything on my list of “want to dos” with my family. They like doing a lot of the things I like (though the whole thing about the beach might be a stretch…none of us are really big drinkers…but work with me here) because I spend time with them doing the things that THEY like. The point is that we like spending time as a family doing things. What if you are not married and don’t have kids? Then you are able to make other choices…like who your family is. Is your family your co-workers? Is it your poker buddies or a travel companion? Family is who we select. While blood is important, I can tell you that in many families, but doesn’t mean anything.
Here’s the bottom line. Life is too damn short to be unhappy, or to allow those unhappy masses to bring us down. Can you be a person of faith and still be happy? Of course! Can you stay with your spouse for a lifetime and still be happy? Absolutely. I’m at 22+ and still loving the woman I married. Can you believe in things completely opposed to your friends and family and still be happy? Yes…be yourself and let the rest sort itself out. Take care of your family. Spoil them. See the world with them. Give your spouse as much as you can…and then give them more than that. Take your kids on epic vacations. Try not to miss any of their events. Leave work early when you can and stop sweating being there before the boss. You can always earn more money. Dave Ramsey is not always right, and you can live very nicely with a 680 credit score. Travel and see the world with those you love. Learn a new language. Read books without pictures. Stop in the pet store to pet the bunnies with your daughter and take one home sometime as a surprise. Buy your spouse flowers. Ladies, greet your husband at the door in just heels. Men, drop the extra weight and look good for your wife. Parents, realize your kids don’t want anything other than your time. Kids, remember your parents love you to death, but sometimes life gets in the way. Fight for your marriage like your life depends on it. Love those who love you unconditionally. Forgive anyone you need to. Ask forgiveness from anyone you need to. Thank those who need thanking.
On Sunday the 12th my family and I head out on a cruise for Spring Break. When I leave the pier I leave behind all the baggage I have been dragging with me for 46 years. When I come home I will be the man who I have always wanted to be. If I’m not happy with me or my life, what kind of spouse and parent am I? No more. Today I pledge to live my life with no more regrets.