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...

Each of us is capable of doing far more than we ever imagine we can. We just have to remember that we have to keep pushing on toward the goals we set for ourselves. This lesson, more than any other, helped Jack and me to push on during our Fire Act Road Trip. Just when you think you have seen and done enough, you have to suck it up and keep rolling.

There is a reason for this you know. Each of us is responsible for what we do in this life, no matter how we feel. I am sick and tied of listening to the whiners and losers who keep blaming other people for their bad lot in life. Suck it up and keep going. Look to the Lord for faith, but remember that each of us is responsible for learning, doing, and trying in this life.

However, you can only do this if you understand that it is up to you to learn how to control your attitude. I have a bad temper, but over the years I have learned that it could get me into a great deal of trouble if I didn’t learn to control it. I have gotten better at this, but there are still periodic lapses. My friend, either you control your attitude or it will come to control you. I assure that the outcomes will be better if you are in charge.

I've come to learn that heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences. No one who is really a hero ever starts out a day saying, "well, I guess I am going to be a hero today." No, these folks just move through life, living decently and helping others in normal ways.

Then suddenly a situation presents itself when courage is called for, and these folks step forward and simply do the right thing, like they always do. They are merely acting like they always would, but on occasions like this they go above and beyond the call of merely showing up at roll call. They do not weigh the cost to them, they merely do what it right and proper. False heroes are a pox upon the soul of humanity.

You need to follow your heart and you need to do what is really right. One of life's great lessons is that you really can’t do things for the purpose of racking up dollars for their own reward. Dollars are not a good indicator of success in life. If I have learned anything in this life it is that money is a lousy way of keeping score. It is your friends and family that really count. Be loyal and supportive to them at all times.

One of life's other great lessons is that your best friend and you I can do anything or nothing and still have the best of times. Jack Peltier and I have been on the road together many times during the past 30 years. I want to credit him with helping me make my way around the country on our road trip in 2006. He has been thoughtful, supportive and encouraging at every turn. You can truly do wonderful things with your best friend.

There are many surprises in life. There have been those people who I thought would be the first ones to kick me when I was down. I have been greatly surprised by their willingness to help me get back up. Life is full of surprises, life is truly full of surprises my friends. Never leave a relationship on a bad note, because even when you are angry, you may have the right to be angry, but you never have the right to be cruel.

Life's lessons come at you fast and furiously. Perhaps lessons like this come from the fact that maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had and what you've learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you've celebrated. I like to think that what I am today is a combination of all that I have done in life and all of the people I have met: the good, the bad, and the ugly. I've learned that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.

Perhaps the greatest lesson I have learned is that it isn't always enough to be forgiven by others. Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself. I've learned that just because two people argue, it doesn't mean they don't love each other. And just because they don't argue, it doesn't mean they do. Love and forgiveness go hand in hand.

Maybe we would have a better fire service if people would just cut the bull and say what they truly believe and act kindly towards other people. I believe that it is the Golden Rule which best states the intent of my visit with you this day. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you live your life in that way, all of the other lessons will fall right into line.