Friday, February 01, 2008

Remember What Is Important, Really

This blog is mostly for me, because I am mostly guilty . . .

A few minutes ago I received a call from Katy, my oldest daughter, and an e-mail from my second daughter, Kandi, just a few moments later. One of their close college friends, all of 26 years old, passed away yesterday from cancer. It began as a small tumor on his tongue, metastasized and he suffered greatly before he died.

He worked for a magazine and had a bright future, a serious girlfriend, everything to live for and so much life left based on the odds.

But, I am reminded that the odds, or probabilities, of living 76.8 years are just that, what is probable. When you flip a coin the odds are 50% you'll get heads everytime you flip it. But even if you flip the coin 10 times and get heads all ten times the odds are still 50% you'll flip tails on the next toss. That is a metaphor for my life, for everyone's life, but I often forget it, acting as if someone has given me a guarantee of 76.8 years because those are the odds, spread over an entire population.

But I am not an entire population. I am one man who has arrived at 56 years old. And while the odds say I have 20 more Summers in which to enjoy the sunshine, 20 more Autumns to watch the leaves change, 20 more years to get up each morning and be productive if I choose to be, 20 more years to love my wife and children, and 20 more years to be thankful that each day is mine to enjoy if I choose to do so, those odds provide no guarantee that today or tomorrow won't turn up tails.

The tragedy of this young man reminds me that most of what I fret about is just part of the game - and that like all games, this game is meant to be enjoyed if only because the game is more about keeping the game going and enjoying every move than it is about winning, which I am reminded this morning is not possible.

So, with that observation I am going to get up from this desk right now, grab up some leashes and take two or three dogs to the park and I am going to try and be present enjoying every moment, and when I catch myself (as I surely will) fretting about some event that happened that didn't work out exactly as I had planned, or some future event that may happen, I am going to stop and say out loud, "You should be so lucky as to be here for that event or any other. The challenge is to figure how how to appreciate it."