Life's Lessons Are There for Us All

This week's visit with you is going to be quite a bit more philosophical than normal. Perhaps it is because of the miles that I have traveled on my FIRE Act Road Trip. More likely it is the approach of my 59th birthday. In any event, it is probably a...


This week's visit with you is going to be quite a bit more philosophical than normal. Perhaps it is because of the miles that I have traveled on my FIRE Act Road Trip. More likely it is the approach of my 59th birthday. In any event, it is probably a good time to stop and take stock of what I have experienced during my life.

As you read my words I would ask you to pause periodically and reflect upon your own life. Far too many people fail to take a periodic reckoning on the bearings of their lives. They drift aimlessly over the rivers and through the woods of life. Let me tell you one thing. The road to Grandmother’s house gets longer as we get older. The road of life takes some sharp turns and if you are not paying attention you might have a bad wreck.

Let us now speak about some of the lessons that I have learned on my way through life on this Big Blue Marble we call home. Perhaps the first lesson I want to share is that we don't have to change friends. What we must do is come to grips with the fact that friends change. Times change, and friends change; that is just the way it is. No matter how good a friend is, they will occasionally hurt you. Such is the way of the world. You just have to learn to them when necessary.

Friendship is one of the foundations of life. I am not talking about networking, I have lots of fine professional associates, but friendship, well that is really something else. I've learned that true friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance. Same goes for true love. My best friend lives many hours from me, but he is still my best friend.

A critical element which is often forgotten involves our own actions. Far too many people operate as though they were the only people on the face of the earth. One of life's hardest lessons involves the cold, hard truth that each of us is capable of doing something on an impulse which can give you heartache for life. Screw up in haste and repent in leisure might be the true explanation for this.

Over time I have decided that it is taking me a long time to become the person I want to be. When we are young, we want everything to happen right away. Heck, there is even a name for this now. It is called instant gratification. My friends, the best things in life take a long time to accomplish. Recognize this, set your goals, and work patiently toward them. You may never accomplish everything you wish, but you will do more than if you never tried.

Always leave the people you love with loving words. It may be the last time you see them. There have been times when I left a friend or a loved one wishing I had said more kind things to them. I can recall reading a number of New York Times stories about adult children who regretted that they never told their parents how much they loved them.

I remember a particular Sunday not long before my father died in 1988. I was headed home from the fire station in Newark and as I approached the traffic circle in Freehold, I felt something move me to take the road to my parent's home. When I got there, I went in, said hello, and plunked myself down into the chair next to dad. We spent the next hour or so watching one of his favorite World War II documentaries.

Shortly after 8:00 PM I got up and said that I had best get home to see Jackie and the kids. I then went over, kissed my dad on the head and told him that I loved him. I shall never regret doing that. For you see, it wasn't too many months later that he went home to be with the Lord. Be kind and loving my friends, for tomorrow is never guaranteed.

Another of life's lessons is that each of us can keep going long after we have initially decided that we cannot. I first learned this from my football coach in high school. That type of thinking usually allowed us to guts it out in the fourth quarter. It must have meant something, because we won the league championship that year. Then all the years of making long, dark, flaming hallways in Newark riveted it in my mind. You can do a hell of a lot more than you think you can. Do not let your mind be your limiting factor.

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