One day I found out a friend of mine had passed away. He was gone for a month and I didn’t know about it until a mutual friend, an old friend, found my right email. She reached out to me and told me the sad news that our friend and former colleague, a robust, healthy guy formerly of East Germany, had a heart attack.
I had only just wondered how he was a few days before. He married a lovely lady, a violinist, and they adopted a daughter. He loved banana juice, which I never heard of, and he always bought new beds whenever he moved to a new place. He was a straightshooter, looked like Dolph Lundren’s cousin, upright, neat, precise, and had a good sense of humor when it came to working with his American co-workers.
The last few days have included the following thoughts:
If you’re lucky, you have a “tomorrow” to wake up to: you wake up and shower/bathe, take the kids to school, go to class, eat, go on dates or nurture/please your mate/spouse, pay your bills, mortgage and/or rent. If you’re lucky you get to string together a long line of tomorrows populated with such details. Glamorous huh?
If you take a step back, most people on Earth have to step up their “tomorrow game” JUST to keep breathing and eating. Their lives may be marked by 18 year periods of rough patches, and not 18 months, 18 weeks, 18 days or even 18 hours, of what we enjoy. If you think about that being a reality for most, then my modest suggestion of considering consistency in habit and outlook might be a luxury you can easily afford.
Don’t like that metaphor? Want it more fun?
Okay, then life is a daily parade of party invitations. The only thing is you don’t know which parties will be lively, and one for the books, and which ones will either send you to the emergency room or stretch tolerable minutes into tortuous hours.
Keep going to each and every party of all your tomorrows. Occasionally you may win some prizes at the door. You just don’t know when. If even a festive metaphor still doesn’t feel right then let me state it bluntly: Keep striving and surviving. There is no certainty about which day brings the win and which day is your last.
The only certainty is nothing will be won if nothing is done. You accept both the invitation to and the mystery of each tomorrow.
The randomness and dumb luck of the world is beyond us.
Nobody knows what each year brings us. We command the minutes, however, and we can craft routines and processes about how we spend our time in both markets and life. This borders on the pursuit of concepts like “chopping wood and carrying water”. We don’t determine outcomes and output, but we have a lot of say about the input and investment of our time and resources.
One of my “pre-resolutions” which I made with myself by the end of the year includes things like writing more and being less worried about what others thought and reaching out to anyone and everyone about anything of interest, any opportunity to do the new and reinvent and cultivate my stack of systems, that sandwich of talents, experiences and interests that only I can share. A crucial pre-resolution includes continuous genuine connection and friendship.
There are friends I have I haven’t seen in ages but we pick up the conversation as if there was no gap in time and space. There are friends I have made and sometimes yet to meet but it’s as if we were always in the room together and know each other’s jokes. There are friends I have lost and it seemed all I did was turn my head aside, distracted for a moment, and when I look back then they are gone.
Goodbye, old friend.
Originally published at www.rooster360.com on January 18, 2017.