I Hate When Life Interferes With What I'm Doing
A funny thing happened on February 24th. I was drafting the inaugural post for this blog when my father died. Okay, maybe my father’s passing isn’t as funny as it is ironic. After all, here I was attempting to create a blog focusing on people's most important relationships and one of the most important relationships in my life changed forever. At that moment what I had planned to write, suddenly didn’t seem quite as important anymore.
My father’s death was not unexpected. He achieved the age of 100 years and two months before his heart gave out. In what seemed a blink of an eye, he peacefully turned a corner and left behind a legacy passed on to three children, eight grandchildren and ten great grandchildren.
When dad was living his “productive” years, he was a very ambitious executive in the utility industry. During those years, he often chose work over leisure. For example, I recall him waking my brother and me one July 1st morning years ago by wishing us a “happy new fiscal year.”
Even when "relaxing," dad never really relaxed. Golf, as an example, was rarely an enjoyable stroll following the trail of a little white ball. Oh no. It was, for him, a frustrating battle of getting his golf swing to cash the checks his mind would unceasingly write. When his body wouldn’t do what he demanded well, let’s say I learned some very colorful verbal soliloquies dealing with frustration and failure.
My dad lived 36,560 days. When he was born in 1914, a new car cost $460.00, gas was $0.12 a gallon and the median cost of a home was $3,600.00. He was never promised to see the day when gas would be $3.50 a gallon, a home would cost $317,000.00 and a car as advanced as a Tesla Model S would sell for $81,000.00. As the years passed and his life and career took their inevitable twists and turns, my father's intense drive began to give way to an embrace of grand fatherhood. In the end, what mattered to him most of all was hearing about the lives and the achievements, both large and small, of his family.
The wonder of life is that we all know we’ve been given time to live. The irony of life is even though we know we have time, we just don’t know how much time we have. Determining how to use the time we do have is what sometimes poses problems for us.
I don’t know about you but, if I had nickel for every hour I’ve squandered giving my life less than my best, I could crack open my piggy bank and pay cash for a Tesla and still have change. That’s the thing about not knowing how much time we have in this life: We delude ourselves into thinking we have more than enough. We don’t. We only have the moment we are in and the next moment to come. That is it. It is our task, and our task alone, to work out how we are to be in the moments we have.
Too often, it is when a loved one dies that we are confronted with how important a place our relationships occupy in our lives. I know for certain that if my father had died 25 years ago, my feelings would be very different then they are today. Because he lived as long as he did, I was able to come to terms and understand the role he played in shaping me into who I am. He didn’t invite the healing that occurred over those 25 years. He never would. What happened is, I gave myself the time to be with him. During that time, I came to understand him but, more importantly, I came to better understand myself.
How much time do you have? Have you prioritized being the best you can be in your relationships? One thing I’ve learned in my work is this: If our relationships aren’t functioning well, neither are we. So central are the intimate connections we have in our life, that without them, we suffer.
The bad news is, relationships are hard work. The good news is, relationships are hard work and we are the agents who can, if we choose, influence their change. It is always within our grasp to be the person we can become. It is ourselves who play a part in forming our relationships and transforming our life. What are you waiting for? Hurry. You might not have as much time as you think.