I am here to live. Until I die.

dearolddad

I want my children to not live my life.

But, I want them to never forget that is what they are doing during their time on this planet:  Living.

It is what we do, we humans.  We are here to live.

Until we die.

 

Today, I turn 53 years old.

Given that life expectancy for men in 1915 was roughly 53 years of age I consider myself remarkably fortunate for having made it this far!

Many of you who know me understand that I’m intending to live to be 100 years old.

This leaves me with about 47 years remaining on this planet – give or take a few years – and assuming God agrees with my life endurance plan.

I have come to a lot of conclusions at this stage of my life.  Some of those conclusions will likely stay with me through the rest of my life – others I suspect will become less black and white closer to the end of my life.

One conclusion I have reached – one I hope I never find myself doubting – is that I believe there are far more kind and good people on this planet than there are rough and evil people.

But, even as a few clouds can temporarily block the warmth and beauty of the sun, the actions of the rough and evil people can temporarily shield the kind and good people from our lives.

It’s easy in this world of the internet to convince ourselves that the world is fast coming to an end.

I don’t think it is.  I hope it isn’t.

Beyond the fact that it screws up my plan to live to 100 years old it, more importantly, deprives my children of the opportunity to clean up the mess that generations before them have created as obstacles to their own future.

I am reminded of the power of the future of this country every time my children talk to me.  Every time they raise a question, or an issue or express an opinion about the world around them.

It may be on a morning drive to take The Daughter to camp where she deliberately raises the question of gun control.  Seeking my opinion is her respectful approach to the conversation.  But, I am more eager and impressed to listen to her perspective and views on the matter.

Or, it may be on a bike ride around Mackinac Island with The Dude who has clear, well-thought out opinions about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  Perhaps more importantly, he has a remarkable sense of his own beliefs that are molded by his own research and conversations with others.

My wife and I have deliberately encouraged our children to be aware of the world around them and to engage in it.

She and I both have opinions about the world around us.  We don’t always agree and our own life experiences are different which have resulted in differing takes on how to solve the challenges and face the opportunities we confront.

Yet, we both share a vision for a better world for everyone.

Including our own children.

I don’t find living to be 53 years old to be the biggest and best accomplishment of my life so far.

No election I’ve ever won, race I’ve ever run, bill I’ve ever passed, place I’ve ever visited or victory I have  achieved in any walk of life compares to the most critical accomplishment I have achieved so far:  Raising two children who see the world as a place filled with more good people than bad.

I say “so far” because my job is not yet done.  I hope it is never done when it comes to raising children who I pray every day for their safety in the world around them.

We do live in dangerous times.  Whether it is real or perceived, I believe the world to be a more treacherous place for our children today than it was when I was a child.

Treacherous doesn’t mean there are more bad people.  It just means there are more ways for bad people to do bad things to good people.

My instinct is to protect my kids from the world and the treachery I see that can all too often threaten them.  I work hard every day – sometimes successfully, sometimes unsuccessfully – to loosen the leash and give them the freedom to choose their own path.

I want my children to be leaders in the world around them.

I want them to collaborate.  I want them to find and build coalitions.  I want them to be welcoming to listen to all people, ideas, opinions and beliefs.

I want them to argue.  Disagree.  Be kind.  Speak firmly.  Talk gently. Walk away.  Be angry.  Find common ground.  Reject hatred.

I want them to take risks.  To challenge themselves.  To fail.  To work hard.  Play hard.  Love hard.  To have a broken heart.

Be afraid.  Be bold.  Be joyous.  Find sadness and feel shame.  Rise above adversity.  Discover happiness.

Embrace solitude and be peaceful.  Believe in God.  Have faith.  Lose it.  And, find it again.

Surround themselves with people they agree with – and disagree with – like a lot – and not like so much.

I want my children to not live my life.

But, I want them to never forget that is what they are doing during their time on this planet:  Living.

It is what we do, we humans.  We are here to live.

Until we die.

Some of us, for reasons known only to God, live longer or less long.  It doesn’t matter whether it is fair or not fair.  It has been like this since the beginning of time.  I suspect it will remain so until God decides otherwise.

I look back on my 53 years of life and, like a computer, have restore points that I go to when I feel as though I have to get my life working as well as it was designed to do.

Unlike my computer, though, I find the older I get the more restore points I have that sustain me through each year of my life.

It can seem as though 53 years has gone by in the blink of an eye.

Gretchen Rubin has said, “The days are long but the years are short.”

I am mindful of her words.  I choose more and more each day of my life to embrace their length – good, bad or indifferent – knowing that next 47 years will be shorter than the first 53 years.

It’s what I have chosen to do.  As a human.

I am here to live.

Until I die.

 

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