What I Learned This Year 2012 #1: Jim Elkin
What I Learned This Year in 2012 or How I Learned to Appreciate Zombies.
"Reality is wrong. Dreams are for real." - Tupac Shakur
I'm having a baby. Not me personally, but my wife. I tried changing this, but evidently the doctors frown on that kind of thing and science hasn't quite caught up to some of my wants and desires. This is one of the reasons this year I learned more than anything about being grateful.
In a time when some of us have gotten bitter, spiteful and even mustered up a golden warmth of betrayal towards our fellow man and woman...I feel all of life's little challenges for better or worse have made me more appreciative. Before you start looking at me as the guy who is whistling through a field of napalm....Give me a chance. Things have changed. Not just for me personally, but professionally, spiritually and emotionally.
I should rewind. My father, who has suffered through Alzheimer's is still alive. He is unable to communicate in a normal way. It's mostly through smiles now when I bring him Amish Dutch Apple Pie from the heart of Philly, frowns when the heat is turned up too high in his room or just speaks through garbled words that are mostly made up within his own imagination. But, he is here. Still here. And that is amazing. Many of us who love him didn't think he would make it this long. But, he still fights to be here...to continue to live. When I fly 2000 miles to hold his hand, not knowing if he'll recognize me or not...and that smile happens from the corner of his mouth...that's when I know...he's still here and so am I. My father's son.
Something springs eternal in all of this for me. Not just hope, but appreciation for life itself. Having the chance to wake up and see the sunrise. To be with the people we love the most. Even at its most fleeting and passing...it means the world to me. In a world of texting, emergency meetings, late night panics and our all too forgotten "to do" lists that are never ending...there are much more important things. Seeing my father fade away slowly, but still fight on to be here for another day no matter how hard it is for him to breathe, walk, talk...he keeps fighting to live.
I'm not sugar coating anything. There is a lot of hurt and pain out there. Work has changed. There are less opportunities. Things have gotten more grim if you look at it from a certain point of view. People are more bitter and have gotten more survival-istic. I see it every day. I talk with many of you. I share your pains and your heartbreaks. Some days it does seem like a reality episode of The Walking Dead out there.
"This is mine..."
"I used to have this..."
"I'm fighting to keep this..."
I made that last one up, but you get the idea. There are an amazing amount of negative feelings and emotions that we all share. I don't blame you. Not one of you. I'm with you. But, something has to change or we will all start eating each other. Maybe not literally...like I won't eat your brains...but it might feel like someone is trying to eat your soul.
There is good news. You have the power to change. Treat each other with respect. Give yourself and others the love they need when life is at it's hardest. Give people the power to change things for the better and they will surprise you. I promise.
I can't promise that things will get better the way you want them to. But, you do have the power to look at challenges as new opportunities. Just look at things in a slightly different way and be grateful for what you have. As an example, zombies are really dangerous...but they can't run that fast and they probably have some good qualities. You can always make a weapon out of one of their bones...like that one guy from Walking Dead and use it to almost escape. That was pretty awesome.
In the end, you are going to be OK. There are people in our community who left us way too early this year, but they won't be forgotten. You can keep living for the people who are gone and the ones that are still here. But, that means picking your head up and carrying on. Keep fighting. Make each day count. Appreciate everything and everyone that you have. These are the things I'm going to teach my daughter. I'll teach her all of the things my father taught me. Be grateful for what you have.
On a side note, do not — under any circumstances — call your wife a beautiful looking penguin during her pregnancy. This will lead to you being in the dog house for a majority of the day.
"It ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward." - Rocky
To read the entire 2012 'What I Learned' series, click this.