This is, after all, a personal web log – a blog. Yes, it is travel focused but it is also about me and my life. What happens to me necessarily impacts every other aspect of my life, so it’s with that in mind that I hope you’ll excuse yet another short meandering away from hotels and ancient temples to some recent events in my life. Ones that I feel are important to share and absolutely reverberate through my life and the decisions I have and will make.
Last week I lost the man I have long considered to be my father. He wasn’t my biological father, we didn’t grow up together, he never showed me how to ride a bike or throw a baseball, but he was a parent in every sense of the word. My partner’s father passed away suddenly and without warning on Labor Day while playing golf; an activity he enjoyed more than anything else in life.
He meant a great deal to me and of course my partner and it is a reminder not only how much I hate death and its consequences, but at how fragile life truly is. I’m not the first to make this weighty observation nor will I be the last, but the truth of this statement hit home in a way that it may not for many people.
My partner’s father was not old and infirmed, he was active and in the prime of his life. And yet, as he walked along the golf course, he died. There was no warning and nothing could have been done. It was tragic in every way, but especially for the violent rapidity of it all. But a week before he had made the now fateful wish to a friend, he wished that if he were to ever die, then he wanted to do it while enjoying his passion in life – golf.
To have and recognize one’s true passion in life is a relatively rare thing, but found it he did. All his life golf was an all-consuming passion, something he passed along to at least one of his children and a character trait everyone identified with him. It’s rare for an individual to accept their passion in life because so rarely is it easy to follow. Unless your passion is neurosurgery, it’s hard to make it our job. It is hard to incorporate that which we are most passionate about into our lives in any way that is meaningful – but it is so important that we try.
My own story dovetails this acceptance of passion. For more than a decade I trudged, as do so many others, at a job I hated just for a paycheck and some security. I ignored what was important in my life, I ignored my passion and all else suffered. I gained wait, I drank too much and I was spiritually bankrupt. It’s amazing the effect happiness, or the lack thereof, can have on one’s life, but it is always dramatic.
Through the loss of another family member several years ago I woke up and realized just how fleeting life is. Just how transient it is, a lesson far too many learn too late in life or not at all. It’s an oft quoted and pretty corny phrase, but life is not a dress rehearsal, and that’s true. We have one shot at life and we have to make sure we get it right.
It’s important to be there for our families and friends, but at some point we have to realize that it is equally important to be there for ourselves. I realized that when I accepted the passions in my life and took the first steps towards making them my new life. It wasn’t easy, it never is when honest emotions are involved, but it’s all so important. In my case, I’ve made it work. I’ve never been happier and I’ve never had a better sense of direction than I do now. Not by coincidence every other aspect of my life has improved. My relationship with my partner is better, I’ve lost weight, I’m more energetic and in general a much happier person. That’s what it means to pursue one’s true love in life and that’s the lesson I will take away from this horrible loss.
I’m not writing this post today as a eulogy or for people to feel sorry for my family and me. No, I’m writing this to help inspire people. To inspire them to start the process, if they haven’t already, of finding their true passions in life and to begin the process of making those passions part of their lives. Life is far too short, far too fragile to waste living a shadowy life, a life that is without importance or happiness. No matter what it takes, no matter the sacrifices, you have to, you just have to, live life for today and try to be the happiest and most passionate person you can be.