An older couple discusses with a younger couple what has kept them together – and passes along some great advice.
This week marks exactly one year since our dog, Jack, abruptly left us.
Appearing fine with the rising of the sun, by nightfall he was no more. That’s a grim progression to experience any time, but to complicate this horribly unpleasant and unexpected bump in our highway of life, Jack’s passing occurred the exact morning I was slated to leave town for three months of contracted work. My wife and I, heartbroken, left the veterinarian and, upon arriving home, tearfully hugged each other as I slid into my rental car, and left her forlorn and isolated in our grievously hollow home.
Intertwined throughout the choking weight of sadness I carried was woven a heavy rope of guilt. But what are you going to do? It was three months worth of employment, planned well in advance. If your occupation takes you away — even when it’s more than inconvenient — you’re bound to go.
Life goes on — so to speak.
When my travel concluded, my wife requested,
“I know you love what you do – and I want you to be happy. But, I really need you not to travel so often. Would you please try and earn more of your income here?”
I agreed, not only because of her request, but also because I had been growing weary of the travel hassles. Her vocalizing my thoughts cemented the decision. So, for the last several months, I have been “reinventing myself at 60,” not something I intended – nor something I recommend, but as they say, “Life is what happens while we’re making other plans.” Mostly, short of scurrying hither and yon sussing out new modes of income, I’m doing okay. To that end, I do more coaching, both in person and on-line. I’m producing my own local seminars. I’ve snagged more hours assisting clients with marketing and consulting. And, I’m pleased as heck that even after 20 years together, I really do still enjoy spending so many hours with my lovely bride (and how cool is it that she says she enjoys having me around).
Today however brought forth an unexpected revelation: The most difficult component of my reinvention is that I no longer know who I am.
I have to swallow hard when I refer to the song, “100 Years” by Vladimir John Ondrasik III, known by his stage name, “Five for Fighting,” as an “oldie.”
I mean, after all, a song released in 2003 should not fall in that category; it’s a description meant for The Everly Brothers or The Beach Boys. Nonetheless, if the Earth Shoe fits…
Sorry, I got distracted… back to the issue at hand…
If you don’t have it cued up on your iTunes playlist right now, let me sum it up. Each of us gets 100 years to live, and during that period we go through various stages. The poignant lingering lyrics guide us through those times, beginning at 15 (“There’s still time for you…”) and progressing all the way to 99 (“Time for just another moment…”). So poignant are the words that there’s a webpage to discuss the interpretation. (I don’t make any commission on its purchase nor am I affiliated with Mr. Ondrasik, but it’s worth your time to check out the song.)
My interpretation is that each of us given the gift of one century, which passes in the “blink of an eye.”
So, imagine you live exactly, to the day, 100 years. (In my case, that would mean I exit on September 28, 2054.) Take it to your last day and then back it off to one day before you’re gone; see yourself at 99 years, 364 days old. By sunset tomorrow, you will be no more; you have gathered all the knowledge and wisdom possible in this lifetime. You are completed.
Now suppose that 99-year-old-You could send a message back to the Current-You, right here, right now, reading these words.
At the dawn of my sales career, a co-worker gave me a cassette: Zig Ziglar’s “Secrets of Closing the Sale.”
Reluctantly plugging it into the tape machine, I expected to eject it (and the ideas) immediately after the slack on the tape was absorbed. Instead, I became a fan of the old-time motivator from Yazoo City who postulated that health, wealth, and happiness are the natural results of treating others well and that attitude is essential in doing so.
Years have passed, and unfortunately so has Mr. Ziglar, but I still remember vividly a scenario he used to illustrate how fluid is our perception. (I’ve altered the concept, but felt it important to give credit to its origin.)
Picture rising on your “average” day, nothing exhilarating or dreadful is on the agenda. As you rub the sleep from your eyes and swing your bare feet from the softness of the bed to the hardness of the floor, using a one-to-ten scale, think about how you’d rate your attitude. Sure, some days barely merit a “one;” others are heavenly, generating a “ten.” But — on the run-of-the-mill everyday — what ranking would you choose? (FYI, based on a long-term survey I conduct, the majority of respondents end up at 7.9.)
Attitude locked in place; you interact in usual fashion with friends, families, and vendors. As the day fades into history, you retire, expecting to rise again tomorrow and repeat the process. Not meaning to cast our existence as mundane; but, it is most of what life is in present-day America.
So, let’s shake it up.
Again, imagine the ordinary morning. However, this dawn you are jolted into consciousness by a ringing telephone. Glancing at the clock and noting the early hour, your first thoughts are concern, “Who is calling this early? What’s wrong?”
A reminder about what really matters. Even if you’ve seen this video before, it won’t hurt to see it again. It will definitely put a lump in your throat. Enjoy.