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Finding the Joy In Simple Living
Are you living large and loving life?
I remember it like it was yesterday. I walked to the mound; the umpire handed me the baseball and strolled back to home plate. I dug a toe hold where my planting foot would be, then rubbed up the baseball so it wouldn’t be so slick in my sweating palm. The sky was a gorgeous blue, not a sign of wind, and in the background I could hear the fifty or so parents chatting and birds singing.
I took one last look around the infield and outfield to make sure everyone was ready, then turned and faced the first batter of the day. I saw my dad in the stands….always in the stands….smiled and nodded at him, and then it hit me….this is what life is all about!
It was one of those defining moments that we all have during our lifetime. I was only twelve years old, pitching in the Little Leagues in Tacoma, Washington, in love with life and my entire history still to be lived. I was almost overcome at that moment by the sensation that it just doesn’t get any better than that. I was doing what I loved to do. I was young and pulsating with the excitement of the moment, and for a brief second or two life stood still and provided the perfect lesson for the day….this is what life is all about!
ONE OF MANY SUCH MOMENTS
My son was three days old when we picked him up from the hospital. I was thirty-six at the time, had never been a father, and I was filled with apprehension as we drove to the hospital to pick up our adopted son. What if I dropped him? What if I was a horrible parent? I could be ruining a child’s life if I did the wrong things and made the wrong decisions.
My legs were quite weak as we walked into the hospital. I know I was sweating profusely and all I could think about was trying to look like I was worthy of this monumental responsibility. I know I shook hands with some people; I know I signed some papers. I know we walked down a corridor but I can’t really see it in my mind at this time. All I clearly remember is the nurse handing the baby to me. Tears instantly formed in my eyes and I looked down at Tyler….my son….my responsibility….and I thought….this is what life is all about.
WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE YOU DOING TEACHING?
There are so many moments in life that are frightening. The apprehension grows as the moment approaches, and quite often it is the apprehension that is much worse than the actual moment. So it was for me when I was finally hired for my first teaching gig. Twenty-eight years old and I was going to be the Business Education teacher at Blanchet High School in Seattle, Washington.
I can tell you this for a fact: nothing properly prepares you for your first teaching job. You can take all of the teaching methods courses in the world, but until you stand in front of your own class for the first time, there simply is no preparation.
I was the antithesis of a teaching candidate. Painfully shy by nature, tongue-tied in a group setting, I was the loner in every crowd I inhabited. What in the world was I doing? Why was I setting myself up for guaranteed failure?
There is always apprehension the first day of school. For me, apprehension mutated into terror as the opening bell rang on that September morning in 1978. The class filed in; a few murmured good morning, and the moment had arrived as forty-five expectant faces stared at me.
I have no way to properly relate what happened next. I just know that as I stood in front of my first class of students, I realized that I was meant to be there, that….I belonged. I remembered those words from sixteen years earlier….this is what life is all about!
My mother died in 2003. The woman who had cleaned up my messes, dried my eyes, given me constant support and loved me as no other, slowly faded away after a three-month decline.
I was lucky enough to be with her when she died. I held her hand, told her I loved her, and felt her strength leave this world. There really were no words necessary at that time. We had said it all over the past fifty-four years. We had seen the best in us and the worst. We had laughed until we hurt and we had cried common sorrows. The time had come for our shared chapter to end.
I cried….yes, I did….but I also had a sense of peace as she slipped away. I had the realization that I had been given a gift by being there during her last moment on Earth. The woman who had been the pillar of support for my entire life now had me to support her as she left.
That is what life is all about!
YOU ARE SIXTY-TWO AND YOU ARE GOING TO DO WHAT?
It was one of those “Kodak Moments.” The principal had just called me un-professional in a staff meeting. I am a lot of things, but as a teacher I was always professional. I could not envision working under those conditions any longer, so I reached into my pocket, found my classroom keys, tossed them on the table in front of the principal, and bid adieu to my teaching career.
I was smiling as I walked to my truck five minutes later; I was smiling and my hands were shaking. What in the world had I just done? No job, no benefits, no prospects, and sixty-two years old.
The answer to that question came to me as I was driving home. I decided I was going to be a writer. I had loved writing for decades; in fact, I had an unfinished novel sitting on my desk at home. I just had never had the time to take writing seriously. Well, the time had abruptly arrived.
And I have been writing ever since! Almost two years later I have never been happier. I write for a site called HubPages and I’m having the time of my life. I finished that novel and self-published it, and now have eight ebooks on Kindle as well. Daily I am given the gift of human connection. My words reach people and the comments I receive warm my heart every bit as much as teaching once did.
I was reading one such comment a few weeks ago. The reader had been moved by my words and she was telling me how much my article meant to her. I read the comment with tears in my eyes and thought….this is what life is all about!
THE TRAIN IS LEAVING THE STATION!
There is no time to waste and yet that is exactly what we do each and every day. What percentage of your life has already been lived? 25%....50%....99%....how do we know? Each day is an opportunity to get it right. Each day is an opportunity to live life to the max, to blow out the doors and shout hallelujah! Each day is a precious gift that can’t be wasted any longer.
We are surrounded by events and people that scream to us….”ENJOY THE MOMENT”….but all too often they go unnoticed. We have to do this; we have to do that! Running willy-nilly, chasing our tails and letting the preciousness of life slip by.
The laughter of our children…..the kindness of a stranger….the soft breeze as it caresses our face….the appreciation for life itself….that is what life is all about!
I have written often about the need to recognize the priorities in life. Most of what dominates our daily living is just fluff, just window dressing in the grand scheme of things. If we can toss out the fluff, what will we see? The look of love from our spouse….the indescribable feeling of our child falling asleep in our arms…..the appreciation we feel from others when we do a good deed….the satisfaction we get from a job well-done….the joy when our puppy licks our face. So many to choose from, but we have to be receptive to them or they slip by, and then another, and then another, until we get no more chances.
These things, and so many others, are what life is all about. The laughter, the victories, the joy and the hope, all waiting for us to fully experience….and none more important than love.
This is what life is all about…..love of ourselves….love of others….love of life.
2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc) livin’ large and lovin’ life in Olympia, Washington!