16 February 2016

My Father-in-Law

My father-in-law just passed on, at the ripe old age of 78, I think.  He was a nice man, a person who was very kind and caring.  He didn't make any big splashes in life--he never was in the public eye, and he never had his fifteen minutes of fame, as far as I know.  But he leaves behind a very loving family who will miss him dearly simply because of the person he was.  He was kind to all, and he really did care about them.

His was the kind of life that I try to remind myself of regularly.  His life was subtle and unspectacular, but it was a life well lived. During his last hours he was still joking with his family and talking about how he was ready to move on--there was no fear of death due to regrets or thoughts of things that he should have done but never did. He was ready. And being that ready is a reflection, I believe, of having lived well, and of having done the best with what he had.

Of course, there were bad times and probably things that he wasn't all that proud of. We all have those. But for the last few years of his life, those most definitely weren't the main focus of his life, for they weren't the norm--they weren't how he lived his life, but just things that happened that he moved on from. By the end, they were completely insignificant, put behind him as they should have been put behind. At the end, his focus was on the people he loved and on gratitude for all that he had had and experienced in life, and thus he was able to move on peacefully.

We can all learn something from this kind of ending. We can see that it's not necessary to have adoring crowds mourning our passing--it's important that the people in our lives feel deeply the loss, but that the mourning be mixed with gratitude that we were actually a loving part of their lives. It's not necessary to have changed the world, but to have contributed in small ways to the lives of the people around us through encouragement, love, and caring is just as important--and even more important for most of us.

He will be missed, of course. But those doing the mourning now are focused more on celebrating the fact that they got to share his life with him than they are on being sad that he's no longer here. When I go, I'd like to think that some people will be reacting the same way about me--and I know that what I do today is going to be the deciding factor if that is to happen, for tomorrow is not guaranteed to me, and I'd better spread love today because tomorrow I may not be around to share the love that is a part of me.

Spread the love now so that you'll be able to end your life well, without fear or regret. Another bonus is that you'll more than likely be able to see the results of the love that you pass on to others--you don't want death to come a-calling before you're able to give the love that's yours to give!

Rest in peace, Conrad.


06 February 2016


One of the classes that I'm teaching is currently involved in a series of discussions about time. We're exploring the nature of time--what it is, how it affects us, what life would be like if time acted differently. The discussions are enjoyable and valuable, as students are thinking about something that most of them have never really sat down and considered before. But although I really enjoy the discussions about the nature of time, I'm much more interested in the question of what we do with our time.

Time is a difficult topic to discuss with many people because most of us don't pay a lot of attention to it other than to look at the clock to find out what time it is so that we're not late to something or so that we know how long we have left to be doing something or simply because we're curious. But one of the quotations of the website points out that chunks of time are literally chunks of our lives, and how we spend them determines how we spend our lives.

Personally, I don't want to waste too much time. It's too valuable. I don't want to be that person who never accomplished the things I hope to accomplish simply because I spent so much time planted in front of some screen or doing nothing valuable that I "never had time" to do the things I wanted to do. That said, though, I'm all in favor of rest and relaxation, because I know it's necessary. If I'm not rested, then the "valuable time" that I spend will be much less productive because my brain won't be functioning as well.

I've written a number of books, I've earned four post-graduate degrees, I've spent four years in the Army, and I've lived six years in Europe. I think I've spent my time fairly well. But I also know that in addition to my rest time, I've completely wasted large chunks of time--and if I've been able to do what I've done while wasting a lot of time, then I can't imagine how much time has been wasted by others who still haven't done the things they want to do.

And I truly don't say that as a judgment--it's simply an observation. I think it's important that we all take stock of our time and figure out where it's going, because we're never going to get it back again. How might you use it differently? How might you make time for the things you hope to accomplish? Perhaps making a schedule would help, one that you actually commit yourself to follow. And if you put on that schedule a half an hour or an hour a day to work on the book you want to write or the hobby you want to pursue, then who knows where you'll be after six months or a year?

Time's not really a commodity, but in many ways it resembles one. How you spend it determines the return you get from it. Spend your time wisely and one day you'll be able to look back and see just how much you've done--and just how much you've rested and relaxed, too.