My apologies for this in advance. I say this because the subject below might include some sensitive material. But hey, this is why I come here.
There is one undefined and undiscussed truth about the life and the way that life happens to us. There are three parts of our life, which regardless of our lifespan are absolutely true. There is a beginning. There is a middle and there is an end. In between that start and finish is the substance of our life.
Whether we choose to create new chances and new futures or whether we decide to settle in or reside in simpler times, — or if times are unfair to us or to our family; the same three parts will always apply.
There is always a beginning, a middle and an end to us all.
However, the in-between is the meat of our lives. This is our substance. These are the trees that we carved our initials in or the mark we’ve left on the world. This is us.
There is a memory I have from back in the school days when kids would write obscenities on the bathroom wall. I remember some of them.
There were quick poems like, “They paint these walls to stop my pen, but the shithouse poet strikes again.”
There were other poems that were less than clean and began with lines such as “There once was a man from Nantucket.” There were others that were equally nasty, and yes, I remember them well.
There was a line that I remember with the initials that read, “BK was here and now he’s gone but his name lives here to carry on.” Below this was the date or maybe there was a “4-EVA” etched in as well, as if to mean, “Forever.”
There is a curious thought to me about our life and what our life means. In many cases, most people will never know the impact of their life or the effect they’ve had on others. Most times, we live, we learn and we move along. Either way, the same as life has three parts, so do the lessons we come across. To all is each a beginning, middle and an end. Life is the most eventual and inevitable process we have. All of which will have three parts. A beginning. A middle. And an end.
I have never been sure why some people are born from a lucky gene pool and others are less fortunate. I don’t know why bad things happen to good people. I will never understand why kids die young or have to undergo a process like chemotherapy.
I don’t know what life is like for anyone else. I will never experience touch through the force of someone else’s hand. I will never see through someone else’s eyes or taste something with someone else’s tongue. I know that my gifts that I take for granted or my benefits that I assume are trivial are perhaps a treasure to someone else.
I know there are times when we look at other people and wish we had what “They have” or wish we could exchange lives with someone more fortunate.
I spent a long time and large part of my earthly existence just wishing that I was either someone or something else.
I thought my life would be easier if I made more money. I believed my life would be better if I had more talent. I would be included more and wanted more if I was more appealing or better looking, or cooler because above all things, I have always wanted to be cool.
I always wanted to be the one that walked in a room and people took notice without me feeling uncomfortable or unsure. I spent many years feeling concerned about outside opinions and the acceptance from others (including myself).
Safe to say that mathematically speaking, since there is always a beginning and an end, the meat between the two is the life we live.
Some have longer lifespans than others. Some have control over the content of their lives and some are subjects of circumstance. Yet, there are some that make it a life-choice to fill their in-between with as much substance as humanly possible.
There is a boy named Zach Sobiech.
He wrote a song called Clouds. Maybe you’ve heard of it or maybe you haven’t. Either way Zach lived a short life. He died from cancer. He was only 18.
I’m sure there is a lot that I don’t know. I’m sure he had good times and bad times and times that were never mentioned or discussed. However, at the close of Zach’s life, he wrote a song that he left behind. To me, this translates to Zach was here and now he is gone but he left so much to carry on.
In the span between our beginning and end is this moment, — right here and right now, and if we choose, we can either create or recreate our life in a magnificent way.
Everything we do and everything we say goes down in our personal book of life. Everything we put into this; every risk and everyone we love, everyone we hate, everyone we choose to embrace or ignore; everything we wish for and everything we dream of, and everything we dare to achieve is all that we have and all that we can become.
I swear, I spent lifetimes with me living in past mindsets and old resentments and old mistakes.
Then I asked myself, if I were to carve my initials in this world, what would I want this to mean?
What do I want the substance of my life to be like?
Do I want to love to my fullest and reach my best? Do I want to look to advance regardless of limitations?
Do I want to sing as loud as I can, dance whenever possible, live, love, laugh and learn? Or will I allow myself to forfeit the one chance I have to finish my life without making a mark?
I’ve never been carried off of a field on the shoulders of my teammates after winning a championship game. I’ve never broken any records (at least none that I know of) or found myself in a place of mention that will merit me a place in the history books. Then again, I have without hesitation made a daily choice to leave myself here in ways that should my time become untimely, at least I lived. At least I took chances. At least I gave it all I had and made some waves while doing it.
Perhaps I’ve told you my biggest fear is that I will never have the chance to unveil and pull off my trick. I don’t have the same fears about this anymore. I chose to see this differently.
In fairness, this whole damned scene is crazy. Each day is crazier than the one before.
We live in uncertain times. Life is uncertain and the economy is uncertain. Whether we find ourselves free of the pandemic or if more will perish is also uncertain. Either way, when I chose to create my life but plans had to change because of Covid-19 or because other concerns caused me to re-plan and reconfigure my game; either way, I had to come to the understanding that I am my creation. Same as I change and life changes, I have to learn to adjust to these changes by any means necessary because it is true. This is not a dress rehearsal.
Right now, there is a young boy that I’m praying for.
I pray for him because he beat stage four cancer and now he’s faced with a new challenge.
I think of him and I ask myself, “Who am I?”
What right do I have to complain or explain the reasons I chose to give in instead of fight or push forward? What right do I have to quit or complain? My job is to leave a mark behind me that says, “I was here!”
And no, life will not come easy. My dreams will take work and the mountains I climb and the hills I choose to overtake will take everything I have. This means that I must not be afraid to reset myself. I must not be afraid to let go of my perceptions so that I can grow and move with the changes that come with life.
I learned that I cannot be afraid of changes anymore. More importantly, I had to learn to let go of my expectations. I’m in the effort business. Not the result business. And I use me and my life because this is me; this is my change and my process. You have yours and I have mine and while we all relate to some degree, there is no need for me or you to give off the idea that either of us really know what’s to come.
I came across an old goodbye letter of mine which I think fits my thoughts today.
I know where you are and I know you are there. I know why you follow me and I know where you have been because of course, I was there too. In fact, I was there before you (remember?).
There is nothing left behind me but old whispers, old thoughts and old ideas that tell me nothing new, except of course, to be careful. Otherwise the past will be my present again, which I listen to, gratefully, because I believe in the values of the lessons we learn.
I know that you are behind me now. It is better that you are there, than say, in front of me, and determining my future.
I am not resentful or remorseful or even rethinking the past. I am not redeemed nor redefined because of you or my prior life. But more so, I am the same as you or anyone else in this world. I am here, alive, living and moving on this huge conveyor belt we call Project Earth.
I am not asking for leniency or for a pardon anymore. I’m just leaving you where you are, in the past, which is behind me now.
I admit to my mistakes. They are plenty. They are also the reason I chose to improve because although I’ve done wrong, at least I can say I’ve done something to correct myself.
I’m not looking for an award or a reward of any kind.
I’m just looking to live my life.
I can point fingers and I could blame. I could think about my regrets and I could give up. Or, even easier, I could quit right now. I could go back to living a commonplace life and do commonplace things like say, live or die and pay my taxes.
Either way, I have a direction to follow, which is ahead of me, and you my “old self,” you are behind me for as long as I choose to leave you there.
I understand there will be others that look to reintroduce you to me. They’ll look and they’ll point, and they’ll say, “Remember when you did this?” or they’ll let me know how a leopard can’t change its spots.
And maybe leopards can’t change their spots. Maybe they’re right about that. Either way, the good thing is I’m not a leopard. I’m not trying to change my spots. I’m just trying to create my life.
But don’t worry. I know where you are. I know you are there, behind me, where you are supposed to be. And I think I’ll leave you there, behind me, because this way I’ll have more things to look forward to. Otherwise, all I’ll ever do is look back and see what happened and miss out on what could have been.
There is a beginning, a middle and there is an end to everything. And therefore, if the substance between the start and finish is up to us, then it is up to us to fulfill our lives the best we can, regardless of pain, regardless of disappointment and regardless of sunshine or rainy days.
Above all things, we have to live as best as we can because in fairness, there really are no excuses.