Chapters and Verse
We have all heard the phrase, “My life passed before my eyes”. How many of us take an inventory on our life before fate forces the action? If life is a series of moments then that series of moments creates chapters of our life and it’s experiences. I am 42 and I can can remember entire chapters of my life that are totally foreign to me today. It starts with childhood and it’s innocence. I can remember going to the Moose Lodge with my dad and getting so excited watching him shoot pool for his lodge. Those pool tournaments were as big as football weekends to an adult football fan. I would cry sometimes when he lost (which was not often) because I was so invested in watching him in competition. I did not care, nor did many others at the time, that we were driven around town without a seatbelt and sometimes my Dad would be drinking behind the wheel. It was important by the fact that we know better now but as a child you did not think of it. I don’t drink and will likely never do so in front of my daughter. Childhood is the part of life where we are carefree and live with very little consequence to our actions. Friends are plenty and time means little. As teenagers we begin to get some responsibility. We are preparing the starship of our minds and hearts for the big blast off into adulthood. We know it all and no one can convince us otherwise. The truth is that our teen selves know only slightly more than shit. For me it was a huge transition. The way my parents treated each other took a huge turn when I was a teenager. My mother left my father (with good reason) when I was a late teen. My father changed somewhat for the better when he realized she would leave. I had my first girlfriend and job and would not go with her. How different would my life had been had I left? My early childhood and teen years seem so far away.
In college I did it all. I drank, I had sex, I went to concerts, I worked three jobs, had an apartment, and went to school all at the same time. I never remember being tired. I was invincible. I was preparing to be a police officer. I took trips at the drop of a hat and was obligated to no one. I was not a very good boyfriend to the girls I dated. I treated them well but I would leave the relationship on a whim. I did not want to hurt anyone but I wanted to be free when I wanted to be free. Some of my greatest loves were then. I broke a couple of hearts but for every heart I broke mine was broken three times as often. I deserved it all too. I never, ever cheated. When I loved I loved all in, too hard. That pushed some people away. Sometimes I loved so hard and fast that I would suddenly realize I did not understand the true meaning of the emotion. They were good years and yet another chapter that seems like a millenia ago.
I became a cop. I had a gun. I had authority. I was the baddest son of a bitch to wear a badge (in my mind). I saw great things, horrible things, and unimaginable things. There is no relationship as strong or amazing as the relationship between officers and their families (other than marriage). You always know your back is covered as a cop. A fellow officers child passed away and it was weeks before he and his family had their house to themself. To this day I would help out my fellow officers from that time. It is instinctual and undeniable that bond. In my work today (like most places) your fellow employees could give a fat babies toe about you when you leave the office. I had my first marriage during this time. It was a nightmare of a time. I would wake up with my gun to my head and in the hands of my 120 pound wife. I left that job and that marriage. Those chapters seem like another life all together. I don’t remember that person. I don’t remember my mindset. It is very alien.
I began a new career and it was supposed to be temporary. 13 years later and I am still there. I hated the job. Tried to leave a handful of times. I hated the job but the job always took care of me. I slowly learned a lot in a short period of time. I held positions some would wait a whole career for and not get. The job I hated became my joy, it took care of me. It delivered me the love of my life, my wife. My wife delivered me the miracle I affectionately call the Monster. Were it not for all the earlier chapters, good and bad, I would not have the amazing life I have. I would change my life for nothing.
Someone asked me today why I always try to find the silver lining in a shit storms clouds and the answer is simple. Life is a gift and no matter how off the rails life can be it will be what you make of it. I get frustrated, I get sad too but I always find myself thinking of the earlier chapters of my life. I remember how low I have been and I remember how incredibly rich I am with my family and friends. I will suffer no fools no matter who you are for long. You can bruise me but you cannot destroy me because I will not allow it.
There are simple truths in life. If you have to tell people how hard you work you probably don’t work too hard. If you dwell on the bad and always dwell on the bad you will not enjoy the wind in your hair and life may pass you by. If your life flashes before your eyes what will you see? You will see good, bad, and ultimately what makes you who you are. You may be surprised at the things you have lived through. You may be surprised to remember how strong you are. You are likely far more amazing than you know. Enjoy the good moments and use your experiences to deal with the bad. It is your life and people can get on the ride or get off the ride but never forget you are doing the driving. You control more than you realize in your life. Live, love, and enjoy. It’s your story so make it a blockbuster. I already love you and I may not even know you.