Make Every Moment Count

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

It’s funny how we can reach Friday and say, “This has been a really long week!” Long, compared to what? A shorter week? I’m not talking about working hours, or those weeks when we get a holiday. Even then, they have a way of leveling the score. I’ve often said that when you get to skip a Monday at work, you get four more to make up for it. Can I get an amen?

Yet, at the end of these “long” weeks, we always say the same thing. “I just didn’t have enough time to get it all done!” Well, which is it? If the week was noticeably longer, that excuse pretty much goes out the window. And in all honesty, there are only two ways to make a week longer – flying west or waiting for the change to Standard Time. And that only happens once a year.

Still, it’s been an exceptionally long week for me. Let’s face it, time doesn’t always fly. The more challenging the situation, the slower that clock seems to turn. There were times this week when I was pretty sure mine was broken.

One of the nice things about working from home is that “home” doesn’t always have to be in the same place. I’ve been fortunate to work for a company that really doesn’t care where I’m located, as long as I’m online during working hours. That was an unintended consequence of the pandemic, but still a blessing. And this week, I’ve been in Florida to spend time with my dad.

Yesterday that time was spent in a hospital emergency room, literally all day. I won’t go into detail, except to say there were a few hours where I wasn’t sure the day would have a happy ending. One of the most heartbreaking things we’ll ever experience is watching that example of strength we’ve known all our lives slip further into a debilitating condition with only one eventual escape.

Thankfully, things started going our way late in the afternoon and he finished the day better stabilized and gaining strength. He’s got a long recovery ahead, and I know some days will be better than others. The best I can do is be here, and make sure he knows how much I appreciate the person he is and the person he’s helped me to become.

I’ve had several conversations with my daughters and oldest grandson this week, and the thing I keep telling them is never take anything for granted. For each person in our life, there will be a last visit and a last conversation. What we’ll never know is if it’s in the future or has already happened. And that’s why it’s so important that we take advantage of those opportunities to make the time count.

I worked with a guy years ago that I didn’t particularly like, and he felt the same about me. I really can’t say why. That’s just the way it was. Our conversations were typically laced with snide remarks and disdain. I still remember the day he made an especially rude comment to me and I suggested he should kiss my behind. I wasn’t always this nice.

A few weeks later, we had to team up on a manufacturing issue, and we worked really well together. He came to respect my abilities, and I came to respect his. We never went to lunch together, but it was a pleasant experience. A month later, he had an aneurism and died. I can’t remember my final words to him, but I will always know what they might have been. Thank God we were able to work past that.

Throughout our lives, we will come to know a lot of people. Some will mean the world to us, some will be mere acquaintances, and the rest will fall somewhere in between. And whether we mean to or not, we will each leave an imprint on one another in ways we may never know. That’s why it’s so important that we think before we speak, and atone for any transgressions as quickly as possible.

To that person at work whose smile we barely notice, a smile or a warm greeting from us could mean the world. The neighbor whose lifestyle offends us may be yearning for acceptance. Even the person in handcuffs in the back seat of a police cruiser deserves our compassion. And the best part is, it’s free. It costs nothing to offer a smile or a kind word. Will it make a difference? You may never know.

I’m confident I’ll have more opportunities to spend time with Dad and let him know how much he means to me. How many more is the great unknown. Pick up the phone. Write a letter. Go visit. You’ll never know when that last conversation about nothing in particular may truly be your last. Make it count.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Being Right Doesn’t Mean Everyone Else is Wrong

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

It occurred to me a few days ago that, while my posts have gotten more personal over the past couple of weeks, they’ve also gotten a little more somber. I enjoy sharing that personal side, and I think most of you enjoy the connection as well. But the whole purpose of these posts is to illustrate that, no matter what’s going on in life, there’s always something to give us hope of a brighter future.

That said, there are times when our best efforts to remain positive seem to be under constant assault from people we may not even know. All you have to do is turn on the news, and it’s an endless barrage of negativity. Whether it’s crime in the streets or political transgressions, the worst in human behavior is right there on full display.

Of course, when it comes to politics, we all have our own opinions and those opinions sometimes drive us to show a side of ourselves that we would normally keep in check. It’s hard to listen to opinions against a strongly held belief without responding in kind. Turn on social media and you’ll see everything from civil discussion to outright hostility. All from people who claim to love their country.

Well, let’s just get this out in the open. A country isn’t one political party or one side of an issue. It’s not one race or one religion. It’s not one occupation, one state, one county, or one neighborhood. And it’s not one set of values trampling everything else in its way. It’s millions of people, each with their own heritage and values, living and working together toward a common good. Period.

One of our most sacred rights in this nation is the right of free speech. But what we’re allowed to say in a strictly legal sense isn’t always what we should say in a more human sense. We learned that as children, the first time we shared a particularly objectionable opinion with our parents. That’s when we learned the meaning of respect. It’s not always what we say, but how we say it.

An opinion that doesn’t make any sense to us personally may make perfect sense to somebody else. If it’s a point of well-known fact, like the sun rises in the east and sets in the west (or that the world is indeed round), there’s little to dispute. Opinions, on the other hand, may be based on facts, but they are nothing more than our assessment of how those facts fit within our own set of values.

That’s why two people can read the same transcript or watch the same news report and come away with a completely different perspective on what was said. It’s not that we saw or heard anything inherently different – it’s what we went into that situation hoping to hear. We all have our beliefs, and nobody likes to be wrong. So, we focus on any shred of evidence that supports those beliefs.

Years ago, a first-grade teacher took a class full of energetic, loving children, and turned them into two warring factions in a single day by suggesting one “fact” – that blue-eyed people are better and smarter than brown-eyed people. Within minutes, best friends were at odds with one another simply because of the color of their eyes. Smiles turned to tears, and before long the shoving began.

Thankfully, she monitored the situation and corrected her erroneous “fact” in time to prevent bloody noses. But it taught those kids a lesson I hope they never forgot. It made me wish we’d all had somebody like that teacher. Because maybe we’d have grown up realizing that differences make us stronger, and just because somebody doesn’t think like us, that doesn’t make them inherently stupid.

I avoid political discussions in my writing for obvious reasons. I have my values, and you have yours. Some of us will agree wholeheartedly, and some will just as strongly disagree. And that’s okay. There are nations where the people are only exposed to one side of a religious or political doctrine. And we describe those nations with words like “iron curtain”, “dictatorship”, and “brain-washed.”

We strengthen our mind, not by closing it to contrary opinions, but by opening it to other points of view. When we consider facts and opinions that challenge our beliefs instead of blindly supporting them, we begin to evolve. We may still come out on the other end fully believing whatever we did at the start, but at least we’ll be able to better explain why we feel the way we do.

And that explanation of our beliefs is much more valuable in the form of silent reflection rather than open debate. You may draw somebody else to your point of view, but odds are you’ll only drive the wedge in deeper. Cooperation turns to animosity, and the battle begins. All because somebody else dared to have eyes of a different color.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved