For those of you that read this blog regularly, I’m sure you’ll be surprised and shocked to learn that I’ve only written 99 of these things (and that you’re reading the 100th). I’m sure you feel as though it seems like many, many more than merely 99. Certainly feels like I’ve posted more than 99 entries. But here we are at number 100.
While reading another Dad-Blog site yesterday, I came across a post from a dad that said he was afraid of dying. His only wish, and mind you this dad had just turned 40 and he has young kids, is to be a grandfather. He said that, in some ways, he’s always wanted to be a grandfather more than a father. While people commented how cute and admirable it was that he wanted to experience three generations of his life – I couldn’t help but think that post was incredibly sad. I should send this guy a card and flowers, as he helped me realize how silly fear can be. And, how debilitating “future tripping” can be. Why focus so far in the future? Why spend so much time afraid of “what might happen” instead of focusing on “what IS happening?”
For the longest time, I thought my 100th post was going to be about my 39th birthday. I started, stopped and started that specific post a number of times. Thirty-nine. Wow – the countdown to 40. The big 4-0. But then I had this epiphany (which has been crystallized by my fellow fathers posting on the other blog):
While 39 is certainly an ugly age (I’d almost just rather be 40 than 39), it’s just a silly number. Initially, I struggled mightily with 39, but I realized that’s just stupid. Why should I care? I can’t change that I’m 39. There are always going to be people older than I am. And, there will always be people younger than me. This is the slot that I’ve been assigned in the universe (as defined by that night my dad got that funny gleam in his eye and my mom not being fast enough to run away!). So, I take my slot and do with it the very best I can.
If we go through life afraid of numbers, afraid of birthdays, afraid of dying…and just afraid in general – we’re going to miss actually being alive. I once posed a question in an essay: If you knew for absolute certainty that you would die doing the one thing that brought you the most pleasure…the one thing you were most passionate about – would you stop doing it? In short, if nothing brought you more satisfaction than writing, or playing the guitar…if nothing pumped your veins full of hope and joy more than riding a motorcycle, or taking pictures – would you stop doing those things? You wouldn’t know WHEN you would die. It could be the next time you picked up the camera…or not until you’re 105. Would you stop?
Funny thing is – if you died taking pictures when you were 105, the eulogy would be about the wonderful life you lived. People would worship your drive as you died pursuing your dreams and your passion. However, if you died at 40 doing those things – it’s tragic. Maybe even defined as irresponsible. “He knew he could die taking pictures, but he still did it.” The point is…if we run in fear and let our fears dictate who we are and what we do – we don’t live at all. I don’t think there’s any difference between the 105-year old or the 40-year old. They both set the most admirable example of all. The best well-lived life is the one that includes chasing your dreams, living your dreams and dying while experiencing your dreams.
Fact is, I’d MUCH rather die while reaching for my dreams…than let my dreams die.
We have a choice to be a young 39, 59 or 109. Or, we can be an old 16, 26, 66 or 106. We can focus on what we have…or what we don’t have. What brings joy. Or what ails. These are all the things we control. It’s my choice. It’s your choice. It belongs to all of us.
My favorite movie “Shawshank Redemption.” And, my favorite line in that movie is “Get busy livin’. Or get busy dyin.” Every minute that we focus on death, our age, or every minute we spend bitching about (insert conflict du jour) and creating drama out of thin air – is another minute spent dying.
Every time I see the K-Man playing with his toys, running through the house, giving his Elmo book a kiss, I’m reminded about how simple life really is. Every time I get Kolby out of his crib in the morning and his eyes light up with a desire to take on the day (and watch Elmo, of course), I’m reminded that life is good. And, every time I see that kid give his mom a kiss or call out for Harley, I’m reminded that I choose life. Fact is, if we truly worry about the here and now…what’s to fear?