Life WILL Be Tough. But We Can Choose Our Responses.
Those of you who follow my musings would presume that I’ve got a pretty good life. And you’d be right. But, like most of you, I’ve had many low points, and will again. That’s life. I’m writing this on our 10th anniversary. And, today we’ll celebrate many high points. But we’ll be mindful of our many struggles, and how our partnership has better enabled our ability to respond. We’ve had choices.
I’m blessed in so many ways. However, as per Lennon, life has happened while I was busy making plans. I held my 12-yr old’s hand as he(we) lost his battle with cancer. That event set in motion the ultimate demise of a 28-yr marriage. I managed the care of my declining parents in West Texas, ultimately performing eulogies and singing for both of their funerals…just five months apart. A bad fall totally shattered (not just broke, shattered) my shoulder. Texas Congressman and Homeland Security Rep Michael McCaul witnessed my fall and immediately came to my rescue. As he was leaning down over my pathetic prone figure, I still had my Dan Bullock BS presence of mind to say, “Thank you sir, but I don’t think this requires Homeland Security.” Life WILL be tough.
The Itzhak Perlman Story
On this evening, world-class violinist Itzhak Perlman was guest artist with the Houston Symphony. Well into the most important section of his long-awaited solo, a string broke. As he paused, the audience was aghast, presuming that the disabled artist would have to leave the stage, change strings or instruments, and return. Certainly the beautiful spell of the music would be broken. But Perlman remained in place, retuned the violin to accommodate the missing string, and motioned the conductor to continue. Perlman finished the piece with flair and perfection, and sparked a standing ovation with many of the audience in tears. When asked about his thought process, Perlman responded, “Always do the best you can with what you have. And, when you haven’t got that, do the best you can with what you have left.”
Choosing To Live Out Loud…By Design
I recently quoted the old man Amarante from “The Milagro Beanfield War.” His morning waking ritual included splashing his face with cold water and thanking God for giving him another day. I’m well into my seventh decade, and am feeling the aches and pains of aging, though I’m proudly striving to maintain my immaturity. Per writer humorist Dave Barry’s suggestion, I’m striving to embarrass both my son and my grandchildren. My partner of ten years today works overtime as a buffer between me and polite society. But, we’re both choosing to live out loud, to not go quietly into that good night.
Some Suggestions For Your Consideration
Stay Healthy…In Mind, Body and Spirit
—Exercise regularly (“just keep moving”)…at least 4-5 times/week…walking is great…
—Your diet is important. Watch the sugar and bad carbs. Lay off the junk in general, so you can indulge occasionally…
—Read books and vary your information sources…keep your mind stimulated…
—Have fun, be silly, develop your sense of humor and self-deprecation…
—Develop spiritual practices…whatever works for you…include some quiet, reflective time. Honor the importance of crying, grieving, meditation and listening. To the still small voices, and the louder taps on heart, mind and spirit.
—Relationships are critical…Family ties and friendships are especially important as we age. “If you expect friends, you must first show yourself friendly.”
—Pursue creative outlets. Take art/music/creative writing lessons. If not that, at least incorporate art and music and poetry into your life. Take “art treks” to galleries, museums, concerts and theater.
—Give of your time and resources to serve others.
—Choose non-profit associations that complement your interests. Seek to provide significant assistance to their mission.
—Your neighborhood schools can always use assistance.
—We always get back much more that we give through civic engagement.
— We can always help others, regardless of our health or financial circumstances.
CLOSING WITH GRATITUDE
My heart is full of gratitude on this, my tenth wedding anniversary. I’m grateful for my wonderful partner Annette. I’m grateful for my son and his family. I’m grateful for friends and extended family who love me in spite of myself. I’m grateful to live in Austin, to be a West Texas native and to be able to be silly, be of service and live out loud in this Great Country. Where we’re free to be our best and worst selves and have the opportunities to be better. Like you, I ride the roller coaster of life, but I’ve learned to be grateful. Many of you are among those who enrich my life. I choose to live out loud by design. With Gratitude.