Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Last Chances and Long Flights….

Orange squares are just about all you can see from this high in between Sacramento and St. Augustine – you come over the Greyhound Bus like ride on a pothole filled road as you fly over the mountain – and there you are, over the great plains – endless miles of flat land – and from 34,000 feet, it appears as if you were watching the world on a television set posted to your right. Generally the movie is about as edited and entertaining as the food is good, but today, it was reasonable –the apples were crisp, the pineapple was pineapply, and the grapes, well, they had not fermented all of the way yet. The turbulence was limited (at least it has been thus far, that is surely an omen for there to be some magnificent roller coaster riders into Atlanta) – but all in all – after 11 days of business and pleasure and back to back meetings – the flight is the last part of the journey taking me to my navy blue sheets and my paintings and my quiet bed. My bed. What a novel concept these days.

I did not start life this way, addicted to the road and the pressure, and too selfish to sacrifice this life for my ex-wife or for my children – and now, it is something that is a part of who I am – but if there was ever some piece of real advice – pure refined simple advice – I would guess it would have to do with how you build your life – and what you condition your mind to do – of course, that is much easier said than done – but that is where I am today on this flight from Sacramento to San Diego (actually, I am right now positioned over Kansas City – and that makes this life more difficult – that was where my son was born – and I am sensitive today about those things – 11 days makes everything more sensitive.)

So Last Chances – there are always last chances – and then there are always first times – I like both of them – they are new and old and the decisions that we as travelers have to make just about every week - we have to decide to make it the first time or the last time – here are a couple of last chances that I think all of us should stand back and look at – just once – maybe twice, but we all need to make sure that any assessment we are making or any decision to turn around or start over is founded in a few simple last chances – remember after all – last chances are just what they say….

Don’t turn away from your spouse. Turn into her or him and be honest. You never know what the last chance you will have – bad things happen – and we travelers cannot stay distant and let that piece of our lives disappear. Sure, it gets easy to ignore, easy to accept the things you don’t like, accept the nagging, the quirks, but my point is, how many times until the last time when things break. Take the opportunity to be honest, spend real time, and never forget why you married them in the first place.

Don’t forget to call your children. Eleven years my son was born – I still have photographs in my briefcase of him in my old steel toed boats – just last week, we talked about his upcoming puberty discussion – it was just that fast – I got on a plane and one day, he was eleven and talking about puberty. My daughter, she knows me only by every other weekend, and I have regrets about that – take the time you do have away from airports and fancy dinners, and invest in them. They love us – and they deserve that time.

Challenge your life. I have just as many hang-ups as the next guy – but I question when my last chance will be to fix something – whether be the amount of debt that I carry, the apology to my former in-laws, me relationship with my mother, dropping the extra sixteen pounds or so – that might have been right before I stepped on this plane today – and I have to say, it is difficult to answer in the affirmative knowing that you looked a last chance in the eye, and ignored it.

Love and Celebrate life and death – that is an interesting concept! How can we embrace living the last chance if we cannot embrace the fact that we are fragile, and that our life is short – we need to appreciate the end so that we can desire to live today and design the life that we want without ignoring that Last Chance.

Keep Friendships – Being a navy brat, and moving endlessly throughout the years – I developed some friendships, and let those friendships disappear – sort of interesting when you talk to those folks who have kept their friendships since high school, grade school, hell since they were diaper clad children running around the backyard. Sometimes that phone call you ignore because you are too busy, or the hurt feelings about a comment, or the ignored invitation – how many last chances do you have to keep that relationship intact?

Going on endlessly about those important things – maybe this is just as much as a reminder to me – not to forget that it could be my last chance – to make those things right and good – to make those things feel complete, to give closure, and joy, and to remember that there are last chances that we should all look at everyday.

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