Amen. Kind of the way I roll anyways for better or worse, ha ha.😉
(Boys Overlooking Malibu)
“Sometimes it seems like the odds are that things won’t work out the way you wish they would. But if the right opportunity presents itself at the right time and you act on it, there’s always a better chance that it well. Just “act on it” or that opportunity will soon pass and be taken away and what you worried about “not working out” absolutely never had the chance anyway! Your choice.” – Joe Dico (Dad)
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
(In looking back, I saw that I wrote and posted these thoughts again on New Years Day last year. Although not everything turned out perfectly which of course is to be expected, there were more than enough blessings throughout the year to believe that the following mindset and approach still applies as the remainder of 2018 awaits to reveal itself.)
“The quality of our lives can simply be broken down and measured through the following: the initial choices we make from what we know, the circumstances which arise that impact those choices, and the choices we make in response thereafter to what we learn from both!” – Joe Dicochea
As we exit the previous year and enter the new one, we should remember not to dwell too much on the past because I’m not sure what good it will do. I encourage all of us to take the good memories from 2017 and cherish them for as long as we can recall them. As far as any mistakes, we should make whatever retribution necessary, learn from them, act accordingly, and just move on. We need to avoid beating ourselves up over them and anyone who wants us to continue to do so is doing it more for their benefit, not ours! I cannot engage in that latter practice because Lord knows, it’s hard enough focusing on my own physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual growth, welfare, happiness, and harmony.
I hear a lot of people say that 2018 is either going to be a “good year” or “better year”, probably since it’s like the beginning of the MLB Season where all teams start with a clean slate with the unrestricted hope of the possibility of a championship season. As for me, I love optimism since as Winston Churchill once said, “I’m an optimist because it doesn’t make sense to be anything else!” However I have figured out that truly great things rarely happen by accident or mere chance. “Good” things happen to good people because they generally do good or correct things, or they have “good” people surrounding them for support and protection when needed.
I suggest we all take a moment today to at least take an overall look back on this year and then imagine where we see ourselves. If we want a better year, I suppose it’s logical to simply start by continuing to do what works but maybe doing it better. For those things that didn’t or haven’t worked, it makes sense to just simply change or approach them differently if we haven’t already learned to do so. Resolve to be consistent as the year progresses and just look back at the end of each month and see how 2018 is unfolding. I’m guessing that if we do so, we’ll get the year we’re looking for and probably a little (or a lot) more!
Along with your other New Year’s resolutions, please incorporate the following into them. “Go for it now. The future is promised to no one.”
I’m optimistic that we’ll all have a Happy New Year because it doesn’t make sense to envision anything else, you know?
(In looking back to when I first wrote this, it still applies! – Joe Dico)
“Joy and hope are never separate.
I have never met a hopeful person who was depressed or a joyful person who had lost hope…It is important to become aware that at every moment of our life we have the opportunity to choose joy. It is in the choice that our true freedom lies, and that freedom is, in the final analysis, the freedom to love.” – Henri Nouwen
I’m not going to elaborate much on this because it’s self-explanatory or should be. I do want to stress something I talked to your mom about. I’m doing everything in my power to keep you as happy or alternatively, not get in the way of how happy you can and want to be! How you use it is all on you guys. I strive to not lose my temper on the inconsequential, or when you’ve pushed every last one of my buttons. I’d rather laugh and try to make you laugh during those times because generally I’m one happy individual and as the adult and oldest one in the family, I guess I should exercise some maturity and proper perspective! Since I’m no longer as self-absorbed in the first place at the expense of your happiness, I’ve discovered it’s easier to find contentment within my soul through the happiness I create for you.
I’m sure I’m most annoying when I’m “insanely” happy about so many big and little things, most importantly you guys and our dog Dico. Wait! I’m annoying you because I’m happy about, and being with, my family? Something is flawed in that equation but then again, I’m the one with the brain injury. I’m sure I’m a bit much at times, given my penchant for extreme expressions, but maybe you’re not appreciating the source of what’s making me that way! Maybe it’s better not to ask questions and just hitch a ride with me because I’m headed in the right direction now and I’ve got room!
I am truly a shining example of my prior advice. When I think I’ve found a reason to be unhappy or in a bad mood, I easily find 10+ better reasons not to be. You may think its easy to feel this way given the routine of my days but try having the medical community label you as “disabled” and “brain injured”. I refuse to accept it but I have to work hard every day to prove I’m not and I willingly have embraced that challenge! I’m just a guy with a lot of joy and hope, especially since I keep myself surrounded by so many of the expected, and even unexpected, people who keep me that way!
One last thing. I saw a movie with Helen Hunt who is thinking about letting her sarcastic, neurotic boyfriend in her apartment. Before she does, she says “you can come in but please don’t try to spoil everything by being yourself!”
Let’s all try to do the same, huh?
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
I’ve also learned from experience that it’s not about who strikes first or last; it’s about understanding the distress and anguish that could have been prevented had I never stuck at all and if so required, how it could have been better delivered if tempered by an appreciation of my own intrinsic and fundamental humanity. – 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!
(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!
4/6/15 (I wrote this to my sons over 2 years ago when Jason was a junior in high school and Christian was still a year from starting his high school career. It seems somewhat prophetic now that J has begun his college baseball career at U of Santa Clara and C committed to play baseball at U of Washington after he graduates in 2019. Coincidence – I’m fairly certain there’s more to it than that.)
“Grace is the beauty of form under the influence of freedom.” — Friedrich Schiller
This is when life is so liberating. It’s when the exquisite and magnificent inner-structural components are pieced together so that we are momentarily elevated above the normalcy of our routine existence! Wow, that was quite the combination of “big” words and the reason is that I’m not sure I’m able to precisely describe and articulate the moments where the “grace” and “freedom” converge as mentioned above. I just know when it happens because it just seems and it feels that way!
I sometimes feel guilty because it happens so frequently during the most mundane moments when I slow down, take more in that’s around me, and make those moments not just part of me but able to surround them as opposed to letting them surround and overwhelm me.
When I read this quote, I instinctively went back to younger days and the freedom I felt during the buildup before, and the release of the usual daily boundaries right when I crossed onto the baseball field for any reason. This occurred at almost any age starting from little league through high school and up until those ultra-competitive adult leagues I played in where the quality of the players kept alive my personalized and frenzied addiction to the sport. I guess it was during those times that my life truly belonged to me, free of external obligations and responsibilities. It’s funny but even though other players and coaches surrounded me, sometimes they were just voices in the background while I settled into my own individual state of reality.
I know baseball is considered a team sport but for it to have any particular meaning so that players can perform by and through the inner power that’s possessed, it has to be experienced and measured in accordance by individual models for successful attainment of “baseball nirvana”, devoid of external restrictions or limitations. Is thIs that odd or do you guys ever feel that way because it can’t just be me, can it?
There was no one particular moment that baseball generated such an instinctive and personal state of mind but it was no doubt a combination of: the feeling of a ball settling into my glove; that same ball being released traveling stealthily along different horizontal angles and distances; an unbridled pitch that is captured, corralled, and released under the control of a bat; the acceleration around a base where the body is catapulted by the feet and legs towards the next destination that almost certainly belongs to you; and/or the “punch out” pinch or play to end an inning and jogging calmly off the mound or your position knowing that it’s all you can do to control yourself from exalting in the air and fist-pumping all the way back to the dugout (don’t do that or you’ll invite a retaliatory pitch but then again Jason would welcome getting hit by a pitch and then steal second and maybe third).
I got snippets of those days teaching and coaching you boys but living through you guys just doesn’t come close to replacing those feelings that were left behind. J and C, remember that smile on my face you saw in that old high school video I showed you? There’s no way to recall the precise thoughts in my head or during so many times after when art was inter-spliced with actual, living moments, but I’m guessing you have an idea. But the best part about being a fan of you two in the stands is that I don’t have to restrict myself from expressing the excitement you elicit out of me when you the things that seem to come so natural to you knowing that few others are capable of them.
Oh and don’t ask me to calm it down because I can’t, I won’t, and shouldn’t have to, because it’s my connection with not just you guys but a love of a sport that was created well before and evolved well before you were born! Just deal with it and bust your ass on the field because emotionally, so am I on the other side of it.
“Faith is love taking the form of aspiration.” Think of this quote and apply it to why you are still playing baseball and plan to continue to do so at a high(er) level while others couldn’t or won’t be able to forge the same transference.
Obviously you found love and enjoyment in the sport through discovery and/or influence along while growing up with so many others around you. But who’s left among those who you played against and why? I’m guessing it’s because your sport requires maximum elevation allowing maximum mental, spiritual, and physical evolution leading to maximum execution that has to be harnessed and directed towards specific objectives that form the standards of your own personal goals and aspirations. This my friends is where grace equals freedom and feeling anything different means you’re not thinking the right way, not loving the game so that it loves you back, or letting the wrong things enter in your own individual sphere to disturb what is one of the most magical and rewarding relationships that you’ll experience. Eliminate that from happening and just enjoy where the resulting freedom takes you!
Last thing: Remember the outcome will most times take care of itself if the approach is sound. Not always but once you’re in the right place and where you need to be before you cross the write lines, the only surprises in store should work in your favor and against your opponents but then again, there are really few surprises when you put everything out there that continues to form the masterpieces you create!
So get your mind right because “we seek purpose when we are not in touch with who we really are. When an apple tree discovers who it is, the question ‘what must I do?’ disappears. When you discover who you are (at the deepest part of your being) you will find your purpose.” — Colleen-Joy Page