I have had the opportunity to look back over my life these past several days and take some measure of solace in what I have accomplished...as well as spend time thinking about those expectations I have been unable or failed to meet. For me, the remainder of my time is less about personal enlightenment and more about addressing the things that I should have done better.
My phone rang yesterday and it was an old friend. We had not seen or spoken to each other in several years yet we were able to fall right back into the banter that defined our friendship so long ago. She had no idea of my present situation and when I told her I could tell it was blow...and caused some uneasiness. We took a few moments to discuss the "how" and the "why" of it all and then laughed at all the folks and the situations we had experienced along the way...our likes and dislikes...kids..marriage...the usual stuff.
It was sort of like replaying the high points in your life and capturing all the good that had been done...and how...as one matures...he/she grows both emotionally and spiritually. It was refreshing in a way as it takes you from a place (reality) and provides for you a moment free of the pain and the suffering where you can sit and think. Too often whether in my position or not we (collectively) fail to do this for ourselves. The pace of life itself...personal responsibilities... work...etc all define when we can take a moment and reflect...it really should not be that way.
I remember fondly when folks at work would say..."man this day is so tough...I cant take this" My retort was always along the lines of being a soldier...serving overseas..."nobody is shooting at you...no IED's went off on the ride to work and nobody is firing rockets at you...its not that bad" Some got it...and others simply continue to complain.
The folks that worked for me always knew that it is about perspective...no matter how bad you have it or think you have it...there are always others who are in worse shape...just take a look around. To me it was always comical to listen to somebody in the office with a danish and a latte complaining about "work conditions" here in the DC area. I chuckle silently sometimes and at other times I am much more vocal. In the end...your perspective is driven by your experiences...and many of these folks have had few experiences outside the confines of work.
I have been fortunate to have had many experiences...some good and some bad...but experiences none the less.
I firmly believe that it is those experiences that I will hold onto as I get closer to my time.
At Jake's ceremony the other day I gave him a small framed photo from 2002 as gift...it was picture he had never seen before and one that was taken by my Grandmother when she visited. It showed the two of us at the Fredericksburg Ice Park. Jake was dressed in his hockey uniform and I was in typical street attire. I saw Jake's eyes light up when he saw it...he saw in that picture time with his Dad but also another experience in his life. We smiled...then he blew me off and went and hung out with his friends...but I think we can all see the point here...it our experiences that define us and make us who we are.
I was glad I took a lot of pictures of my experiences...Afghanistan, Iraq, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia and many other countries have all given me perspective...and experience...but the driving factor in all of it was the people...for that is the time spent with the people I met...and that is the comfort I derive today...and in moving forward.
The call yesterday was enlightening and more importantly...needed.