That sounds really depressing but it’s so important to remember. And so you don’t think I’m preachy or self-righteous- these are all things I (especially) need to remember. And it’s things I know. As many of you know, 13 years ago on this day, my dad died. For those of you who haven’t had someone that you loved with all your heart and all your mind pass away – it is a grief you never get over. You don’t ever “get through it.” It’s a soul, a parent, a child, a friend, a person who made a lasting impression on you. Daily there are reminders. Some small – like a James Taylor song playing in the background at a restaurant. Some big – like when even after 13 years there are things I think “I can’t wait to tell my dad!” and that feeling when you remember that you can’t. These are things I learned from that experience.
I’ve always felt like I am invincible and going to live forever. But the likelihood of that happening isn’t guaranteed. Things can change in a millisecond. All those stupid quotes that tell you about the past is gone and the future unknown and we only have the present are kind of not stupid. People that live in the past are consumed with fear. Fear of the present and fear of the future. Being consumed with fear is no way to live fully. When your day comes, you will (I promise you) regret the way you lived. Your time is up and you didn’t live to your potential.
My dad had a pain in his stomach and went to the doctor who told him he had 4 months to live. 4 months! Can you imagine being told that? Imagine it right now. What would you do differently? Would you spend it harboring old pain that you can do nothing about or about controlling what you can control right this very minute?
“Give yourself a gift of five minutes of contemplation in awe of everything you see around you. Go outside and turn your attention to the many miracles around you. This five-minute-a-day regimen of appreciation and gratitude will help you to focus your life in awe.”
– Wayne Dyer
2. Act Now on the Hard Stuff
Going back to my dad finding out he had 4 months to live – he righted every wrong instantly. He didn’t think about it, didn’t mess around – he made some BIG decisions very fast. Like sold his house and moved back to Dallas in a couple of days. Moved from a house on a golf course on Hilton Head Island with beautiful stuff to an apartment walking distance to me in Dallas. Might make you think – why’d he ever leave?
What decisions might you make if you found out you had 4 months to live? Here is a checklist of potential decisions you might make. Make a mental note of what you would do:
Call someone you need to talk to no matter who was right or who was wrong
Have you been putting something off like moving home or moving away from home
Go see something you’ve always wanted to see or do something you’ve always wanted to do
DO IT NOW. Don’t wait.
3. Accept Yourself
“Self-acceptance means accepting and coming to terms with ourselves now, just as we are, with all our faults, weaknesses, shortcomings, errors, as well as our assets and strengths. Self-acceptance is easier, however, if we realize that these negatives belong to us – they are not us. Many people shy away from healthy self-acceptance because they insist upon identifying themselves with their mistakes. You may have made a mistake, but this does not mean that you are a mistake.” – from Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz
Time is running out. You is all you have! My dad ended up living 11 months, not 4. It was some of the best 11 months of my life with my dad. Truth be told, my dad before cancer was a little bit of a “look what I have” type of person. Not snotty or showboating but liked nice things. I like nice things. Nothing wrong with that. Sometimes it can get out of control. It sounds awful when I put it like that but you know what I mean, right? But when you have very little time left in your life all that shit really goes out the window. You are yourself, you’re honest and you’re real.
Don’t shake your head at me now and tell me that’s how you always are. Come on. Unless you’ve lived with someone who is dying you don’t know what I’m talking about and I’m probably doing a poor job of explaining it. My most treasured time ever was when my dad in his bald head, cane popping glory would hoof it over to my second story apartment in the morning before work and have coffee with me. He would make me laugh and cry and we were real with each other. All that other bullshit falls completely away. I didn’t care if he came over is the same damn gray sweatsuit he wore the previous day or that we didn’t have dinner plans that night or anything.
So what to learn about accepting yourself? Do what you need to do to be your true uninhibited self. Don’t let past negativity hold you down.