Finding balance in a chaotic world

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December 2017
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An Old Joke

GravesA wealthy person passed away one day and while those around were sad, the thought of how his estate would be divided up became the talk of everyone who knew him. The time came for the reading of the will and the attorney contacted all who were listed in it. They all sat inside a room, anxious to see what would be bequeathed to them. The attorney began to read the will and slowly worked his way down the list. One person, Dave, was excited when he heard what others were receiving. It seemed like everyone’s gift was very valuable. Soon only Dave was left. “And to Dave, my friend, who I promised to mention in my will: hi Dave.”


A friend of mine recently lost his mother. She had been in the hospital for a few weeks and then passed away so it was not completely unexpected, but still losing a loved one is always difficult. Apparently his mother had written letters to everyone before she died; telling them exactly what she thought of them and it was not very flattering. Needless to say, everyone was shocked at this turn of events. Can you imagine the impact that had on her family? I imagine that the thoughts about her are completely different than they were a day before she died. Talk about a legacy.


I have often toyed with the idea of writing a letter that would be opened upon my death. I’d never use it as a sounding board to air my grievances with someone. Instead, I would want people to know how important they were to me and what impact they had in my life. I’d imagine that it would become an important heirloom to them and on occasion they would take it out and read it. Of course, ideally I’d never die and thinking about leaving behind my friends and family is a little depressing. Still imagine the impact you could have on people’s life if they knew how much they had affected you over the years.


Then I think, why should I have to wait until I die before I reveal this to people? What is it that makes me uncomfortable sharing these feelings with my friends and family? Part of it is our male culture where showing emotion to other men is generally frowned upon, but I can get over that. Another part is what do you say? I’d want to be sure to include specific examples of their impact on me but I don’t want to end up with a sappy letter. Finally, this is the kind of thing that needs to be done on a periodic basis, but I’m not sure what this period is. Ultimately though, these are just excuses.


I have a good friend of mine that lives close to me. We do a reasonable amount of things together and typically we run for exercise two or three times a week. In a nutshell, I see him quite a lot. We are good friends and during our runs, I often share things with him that I don’t with anyone else. One day I get a card in the mail from him. Realize that he is within easy walking distance to my house so mailing something definitely takes extra effort. It is a simple thank you card, hand written, that essentially tells me how much he values my friendship. I was very touched at this. In a simple action, he pointed out to me how valuable I was to him. The next time I saw him, I thanked him for the card and explained how much I valued our friendship as well. Being men, that was all we needed to say but the impact still stays with us.


So how about you? Do those around you know how you truly feel about them (hopefully positive)? If not, what steps should you take so that they find out? By opening yourself up to those around you, you gain the ability to impact their lives while you are still around to enjoy it. It makes you feel very vulnerable but the effect it can have on your friends and family can be life changing.