When we begin to appreciate how remarkable even the most basic things about our children’s lives are, then we as parents can better understand that everything beyond that is nothing short of a miracle! – Joe Dico
The measure of a man’s intelligence is not so much about how he can think, but more by the quality of the decisions he makes along with his actions after he has thought things out and can place his signature on them afterwards with a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. – Joe Dico
“Imagine how boring life would be if we were all the same…embrace your own uniqueness… you make life that much more exciting.” – Barbara Streisand
It’s funny boys to think that we each have the benefit of age to deflect a certain amount of responsibility for our actions. You guys will sometimes get the benefit of “being too young to know any better” for things you say or do. I on the other hand am expected “to have known better” but given my age, I may have the advantage of being so old that I’m entitled to suffer some lapses in memory to remember all the time. Throw in a brain injury, a few seizures, and there’s a considerable amount of latitude that I can exercise when my words or actions are seemingly conveyed or expressed without the benefit of a filter. If they come across unkind or insensitive, I apologize because that’s not my intent. If they just seem silly or misguided attempts at humor, I won’t apologize because I’m just doing my thing, living in a seemingly unconventional universe that keeps me directly on course towards my own fulfillment, and usually having a good time doing it!
One thing I do appreciate though is when you guys express your individuality when it truly reflects the natural and organic essence of YOU! It’s understandable, given the amount of time we’ve spent together, that your mannerisms can’t help but illustrate the influence Mom and I have had on you, just like my parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles, had on me. The same goes for you Cole (my “adopted” son), especially since your Mom has had to pull double-duty without your Dad and if you need present-day illustrations of walking miracles, take a silent moment to evaluate the “world” where you and your brother currently exist in and wonder where you’d be had she not done such an amazing job when doing less would have been understandable given her loss. Oh and have I mentioned before that Dee Dee is one of my heroes and a source of inspiration to the extent that I feel so blessed to see her on such a consistent basis to remind me that people like her exist in MY world!
Now as far as your parents’ lasting impact, there are certain basic commitments to the quintessential values, beliefs, morals, and principles you’ve been taught that we truly hope that you emulate and exercise while disregarding various characteristics that aren’t relevant, useful, or desirable for your own purposes. I mean really, I’m not offended as you increasingly demonstrate a conviction to ideals and standards that are illustrations less of rebellion but more the pursuit of “perfection” that will give you the best likelihood at “perfect” outcomes for you, those around you, and the circumstances and situations you navigate through.
If I leave you with anything (and I think I’ve displayed it consistently), it’s that the happiness and contentment you seek is a product of what you’re willing to obtain on the terms you dictate and should not be dependent on what you are waiting to be given! Yes I’m “nuts” in how I express myself and each emotion that is generated in me but I challenge you to point out who is the master of those expressions and most important, whose complaining and if so, why.
Stubborn? Where would I be if I listened to other’s restrictions rather than discover on my own and work within my own limitations.
Challenging? I hope so because what I demand of myself and you guys is not meant for those who think ordinary and average are acceptable aspirations for the quality of our existence.
Optimistic and positive? Absolutely and if you interpret it otherwise, you’re getting lost in distractions that you are more than capable of managing.
Loving, caring, and kind? Do you even have to ask!
You don’t have to figure out why I am “me” (too complex) or how I personally approach things, only that you are on my mind enough that I want to help make some of those 1,440 minutes of each day easier, a jumble of hours and days ahead of you more approachable, and in the end lead you to understand that all the “crap” I predicted for you coupled with your individual make-up is obtainable with no greater proof than the moment you accomplish it!
So be yourself with confidence because there is no one better at it and do it absent unnecessary vanity, ego, and self-absorption. It is so important that you remember the following because what you’ll uncover is usually something you worried way too much about never happening: “Be brave enough to live creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work, risking, and by not quite knowing what you’re doing. What you’ll discover will be wonderful: yourself.” — Alan Alda
And while you’re on the road to that discovery, keep in mind “it is better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” – Marilyn Monroe. I kind of like leaving people scratching their heads with a smile after most encounters because being who I am doesn’t give them much of an option, you know? As Jason has stated before, “don’t hate me because you ain’t me”, and in my view, you’re on the right path!
Some don’t want to run in their bare feet on a gravel path towards the places they want to get to because they’re afraid of falling, the discomfort, the cuts, the bruises, etc. For me, that’s not remotely a justifiable reason to not take the steps to get there; I honestly carry those bloodstains and scratches like symbols of honor because it means I didn’t give up even when things weren’t as smooth as I hoped for, and consequently it ended up making me more confident about the next journey ahead.
I guess it’s just not within my soul to sit idly by or secrester myself from the uncertainty of the unfamiliar when there’s something that I feel is worth obtaining if it’s within my reach, even if the effort initially seems demanding or the path too daunting. What I find may not always be exactly what I imagined but, what I discover throughout the journey always rewards me with something that vindicates the percerverance accompanying those decisions. And you?
While striving for the most optimal changes in my life as I get older, it’s valuable to remind myself of simply doing the following each day:
- If I can raise my arms, I can easily reach out to give a hug.
- If I can share a smile, I’m better off doing so given the weight of its impact versus any other expression.
- If I can still get off the ground, I should jump every once in a while just to temporarily feel the brief sensation of flying and soaring.
- If I still have a voice, why not “sing my ass off” while listening to a song that captures my emotion?
- If I can move my legs, why not dance or at least tap my feet to music if moved to do so?
- If I can speak and my brain still works, I’m going to speak my mind (without needlessly hurting someone) if there is some value in what I have to say.
- If I feel like I deserve something good, maybe I should make it happen first instead of waiting for karma to find me.
- If I can bend my legs without too much pain, I should drop to my knees and give thanks to my Lord for giving me another day to add to this great life and that with another, I’ll work to make that life better for me and those around me.
- Finally, if I can raise my hand above my head, I’ll also point to the Heavens and think “sometimes I may not have acted as God wished but I’m glad to know He never left me”!
So in the end, I’ll “let the beauty that I love be what I do”, because you know, I’m just never too old to have it so!
(This is one of my first posts and I feel humbled and proud that my boys have honored the wishes set forth below since the day I first shared it with them)
“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you. ” – Princess Diana
So now I’m going to ask you boys for something which is less a request and more of a challenge and test. In a way it’s something you owe yourselves as part of a discovery of who you are and how others see you and/or may be affected by you. At a minimum after all I’ve written and hopefully assisted you with, this is something that you owe me.
Life has a funny way of working out but many things are not really random. It can be excellent at times and others, well not so much. Our ability to make an average day better from our own efforts is not something we should take for granted when we boil it down to its basics. The best part of our day and overall existence should not be the greatest gifts we receive but the simplest gifts we give and just maybe, create for others.
You boys by virtue of being athletes, relatively easy on the eyes, personable, charming, fairly witty, etc., consequently may fall into the “popular” and “admired” categories, at least in the high and middle school arenas. All of this changes in the college settings where you can get overlooked in a larger population and the grading scale of success is different.
So take this time to use this aspect of your status to reach out to those who would never imagine that you would even acknowledge them. They are no less important than those you regularly interact with and importantly, can add a new dimension to your emerging interpersonal skills by exploring their own unique and distinctive attributes. You just might be surprised that by performing this simple act of altruism, you may expand your understanding of your infinite coexistence with a few of the 7 billion people on this planet.
This is a perfect time to attempt to figuratively “touch someone” in an unexpected and meaningful fashion because of the daily paths you cross in your school communities. When you get older and in your professional world, you will meet a lot of people who you are essentially required to interact with, and consequently it’s financially beneficial to excel in that capacity. But how authentic are those interactions when the objectives are more self-serving than a genuine extension of the best of who you are. It’s no excuse, just the frequent trap that engulfs us. It’s unfortunate to find that we ignore the opportunities, either due to the hectic pace or schedule of our days, to slow down and capitalize on the random lives that we can affect or be affected by.
So my challenge is to make a simple attempt this next week (or longer) to acknowledge the unlikeliest of suspects whether it be another student, teacher, staff member, janitor, acquaintance, etc., who may fall outside your normal social sphere and would least expect it – I’m sure you can think of a few people who fall in that category. Take an extra few seconds to just say “hi” or “how are you” to that person and pay attention to the response, if any, and do it at least one more time in the upcoming days. If done only once, it can be construed as a fluke or aberration. Importantly, initiate the encounter and use the person’s name, look at them, smile, and again at a minimum, wait for some sort of response and then take it however you wish from there. Don’t think about it too much – just try it because there’s no reason not to and you might find a surprising return on the investment.
I’m not asking you to adopt my routine because frankly, you probably think I’m nuts! I have the time, desire, and my own personal objectives which essentially involve gratitude for where I’m at and where I want my soul to remain. Some might think I reach out to so many random individuals outside of my comfort zone for attention but that’s where they’d be mistaken. My intention has never been to draw attention to myself (although that’s often the outcome), but to give my attention to those around me who deserve or maybe could just use it. In the end though, I know that I benefit from it in too many ways to count and describe in detail.
All of our lives offer so many unnoticed and undiscovered things which really take little awareness to uncover. Sometimes we get so locked inside our routines to appreciate what’s in front of us because we think external demands and distractions insist upon it. Let’s be clear – they shouldn’t, they’re really not as significant as you think, and you can control your approach to them, all for the better!
So please be thoughtful in everything you do, and let that also include those who just happen to be part of your surroundings because the opportunities are abundant and shouldn’t be ignored.
And you want to know why it should come easy? Because it’s the way you were raised, it’s who you are, and it honors your parents and those who influenced you to be that way!