Today is my father’s 74th birthday. I recognize how blessed I am to be able to share it with him, and I don’t want to wait until he’s gone to reflect on what I’ve learned from him. In no particular order:
- Give help without being asked.
- Hard work really does pay off.
- It is possible to create a new life in foreign land.
- You don’t have to hold a college degree to be intelligent and educated.
- Love is expressed by what you do, not what you say.
- Having someone you can count on is one of the greatest gifts in life.
- What’s inside is more important than what it looks like on the outside.
- A strong commitment will keep you going when the road gets rough.
- Don’t ever assume you know how a person will respond.
- Don’t take your blessings for granted. Life can change in an instant.
I turned 49 seventeen days ago and its impact has been settling in. I expected it to be a mellow landing, with a stronger thrust to hit with the big “50”. I guess I was wrong.
On the exterior, I feel great. Some of the workouts are harder than others, but nothing noticeable to even mention. It’s my interior that feels this one. I’m not going to live forever; in fact, I now see the precious value of the decades ahead. Part of me wishes that I could grab the past back just to gain more time. Yet the other part senses that the greatest jewels in life lie ahead.
I went to my 30-year high school reunion on Saturday night. Actually, I did much more than just go to the reunion. I was a part of the four-person committee that made it happen. So I had the privilege of greeting every person as they walked through the door. That in itself was an amazing experience. It set the tone for what I took away from this monumental event.
During the evening I talked with a number of people who had been classmates since kindergarten. I spent some longer chunks of time with women I’d been close with during our junior and senior high years. I chatted with some classmates that I don’t recall ever talking with in my youth. There were a couple of people with whom I exchanged a warm hug and that was all. We had a DJ, dancing, and karaoke, and it was a lot of fun. But to me, it was very sweet.
You see, I feel like I picked up some precious pieces of my life that I had somehow dropped along the journey through my adult life. I feel like I have rekindled the spark that remembers where I came from. I don’t know why that means so much to me at this point in my life, but I guess it does. Somehow I now feel like I can move forward again with a new fervor. I don’t understand intellectually, but I’ve surrendered to an instinct that I’ve just taken care of a need of my soul’s. And now in a funny way, I feel more complete.
It was one of those rare San Francisco squelching hot days where sanity suggested I wait until evening to head out for my run. In less than five minutes my feet had taken me past the neighborhood high school where graduation exercises were being held on the stadium grass. I could hear music playing. Looking closer I could see students in red robes in the periphery of the crowd. As I watched the scene I wanted to be a part of it, if only for a moment in time from the top of the hill.
I remember so vaguely wearing that robe on the night of high school graduation. I remember feeling sentimental about the chapter of my life that I was closing, the classmates and the memories that were being left behind. I remember the joy I felt in knowing that I would no longer HAVE to do anything, that my choices on how I would spend my time would now be my own. I remember feeling full of hope and anticipation for the life that was now fully in front of me.
As I looked down on that grassy field I wondered what those students in red were feeling. For a moment I felt envious, wishing I could feel that sense of hopeful anticipation and excitement about the unknown adventures that would lie ahead. But then I reminded myself that I could have that feeling every day if I choose to. The only thing that has really changed in the thirty years since I wore that robe is my understanding of life. And for that I am much better equipped to meet each day with a sense of hope. For now I know that the only thing standing in the way of my dreams is me.
I thank God for this awareness whenever I count my blessings. For when we acknowledge the unlimited love, abundance and opportunities that are available to us, we experience how brilliantly beautiful is the gift of life.
Thank you for visiting. I wish you an amazing journey.