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The Human Experience: The Sum Total of All Parts

Updated on August 25, 2012
Lessons learned from family.
Lessons learned from family. | Source
My Uncle Les and my dad.
My Uncle Les and my dad. | Source
My sister Darlys
My sister Darlys | Source
My Aunt Lois
My Aunt Lois | Source

GIVE UP THE FIGHT

Lois Haggarty was my aunt. She died when I was eight years of age. She once told me, “Do not fight life, Bill; become part of it.”

Chuck Mason was my sponsor in Alcoholics Anonymous for seven years. He died several years ago and I can say in all honesty that I have never met a wiser man in my lifetime. Close your eyes and picture calmness. What do you see? I see Chuck and his greatest gift to me was in teaching me to find that quiet place inside myself where I could find peace and serenity during the tumultuous times of life.

It seems to me that most of my life I have been deprived of that quiet place. Despite the words of my aunt I was constantly fighting life, punch and counterpunch, ducking and weaving, always looking for the knockout blow that would leave me the victor but more often than not only left me bruised and bloodied on a battlefield of my own making. I seemed to have an innate ability to make a typhoon out of a glass of water. For my efforts I was rewarded with unhappiness, fear and a restlessness that would not allow my mind, heart and soul to be at rest.

As I write this the sun has just broken through the clouds. The wind is rustling the trees and the leaves are whispering to me a message I was unable, or perhaps unwilling, to hear for many years. It is a message that was presented to me decades ago by my father, as tough a man as you are likely to meet. He told me that you do not gain respect by fighting for it but rather by being a good man.

Again with the “don’t fight” mantra! What gives?

HUMILITY VS EGO

“One does not find happiness when ego rules the roost; it is only through humility that one realizes what it means to be human.”

Heavy words to absorb at the relatively young age of nineteen but absorb them I did. My uncle Les had just watched me pitch a two-hitter in a college baseball game and I was feeling full of myself, invincible and ready to face the next helpless foe as I marched towards my dream of professional baseball.

Two years later, my rotator cuff shredded from thousands of pitches, I remembered my uncle’s words as I contemplated life without baseball. The lesson, however, needed to be learned several more times in the ensuing years as my ego attempted to assert its will. Without humility there is an emptiness that cannot be filled.

“Would you for just one second quit thinking about yourself and try to comprehend what you are doing to this family?” My former wife uttered those words as I staggered in late at night after a long day of drinking with the boys. My love of alcohol had finally become stronger than my love of family and unknown to me she had decided enough was enough. The marriage ended one year after that, my wife and four-year old son headed in one direction and I and my booze in quite another.

Without humility there is an emptiness that cannot be filled.

COMPASSION AND EMPATHY

I was ten years old when our neighbor, Mrs. Conrad, died in her sleep. Every day for a week afterwards my mother would send me to the house-in-mourning with a newly baked dinner. She talked to me during that week about reaching out to those who have suffered, that even the smallest act of kindness can mean so very much to a person who has experienced a devastating loss.

One of my dearest friends in AA has now been sober for forty-five years. I was having coffee with him one day several years ago and a homeless guy stopped by our table and asked for a couple bucks. My friend gave him the money and then went back to drinking his coffee. After a few moments of silence he told me that he had been homeless once and if it hadn’t been for the compassion of others he would have never made it. He went on to tell me that one of the best ways to measure the humanness of a person is to observe their compassion for others.

The love of my life, Bev, feels the pain of others. I have seen her cry while reading a news story of some suffering happening around the world. I have seen her smile disappear when she has seen a child cry or when she has driven by a dead animal in the road. There is nothing phony about Bev’s reactions; she quite literally exhibits empathy towards others in a way I have never seen before.

LOVE, LOVE AND MORE LOVE

There just ain’t no substitute for love, folks!

I was surrounded by it growing up. Hell, the very act of my adoption was an act of love that continued until my parents were dead and still, to this day, their love for me is so woven in the tapestry of who I am that it still appears at times that my parents are alive.

Don’t talk to me about the “love ya” kind of love that is tossed about on Facebook like someone giving a weather report. “Love ya” is a bastardization of what should be a declaration of unconditional love, the kind of love that is not dependant on what you are doing for me but rather on what I can do for you with no expectations.

Mom and Dad understood. Bev understands. My sister understood. I had the honor once, many years ago, of meeting Deborah T. in Seattle. Deborah ran a home for unwed mothers and each morning she was up at five a.m. cooking breakfast for her “daughters,” as she called them. Every morning she was helping change diapers, making phone calls for contributions, driving young girls to job interviews and babysitting. Her day would end late at night when the last child was sleeping and the last conversation with one of her daughters had ended and then the scene would repeat itself the next day and the day after that.

She had been doing that for fifteen years when I met her and I asked her why….why did she devote her entire life to this cause? What was in it for her?

She just smiled and said it was all about love, that we are each connected and it is our responsibility to reach out to others with love being our only motivation. She explained that love is the greatest gift we can give another person but that there could never be a price tag on that love, that it had to be given without restrictions or conditions; otherwise it wasn’t really love but rather a contract.

I did not know this woman; I was there as an assignment for my Sociology class my sophomore year in college. Still, with no prior history between us, she put her hands on each side of my face, looked into my eyes, and told me that I had an unlimited capacity to love and that I could change lives if I ever allowed myself to love unconditionally.

She was oh so right!

ADD THEM ALL TOGETHER

Random experiences….seemingly disconnected moments in my life….and yet they all add up to the person I am today. They are branded on my brain, imprinted in my heart and serve as a beacon of light to guide me through my life.

To deny the importance of those moments would be a great disservice to the people who served as my teachers in life. Each one of them became my mentors, shared their wisdom and implanted in me the qualities necessary to become the person I am today. I am the sum total of their teachings and it is now my responsibility to carry the torch they handed me.

I can make no excuses. I have been given the key to happiness and I now feel a sense of duty to pass it forward. To do less would be to devalue all that was given freely to me in the past and I refuse to do that.

My name is William Dale Holland and I carry with me, each and every day, this legacy. I plan on honoring it until my days are done.

2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

For more Human Experience articles please see:

http://billybuc.hubpages.com/hub/The-Human-Experience-The-Arthur-Boorman-Story

http://billybuc.hubpages.com/hub/The-Human-Experience-The-Ryan-Hreljac-Story

http://billybuc.hubpages.com/hub/The-Human-Experience-An-Appreciation-of-Women

To purchase my Lifestyle Choice book on Kindle go to:

http://www.amazon.com/Lifestyle-Choices-ebook/dp/B007ZV9G2U/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1336064586&sr=1-3

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    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rebecca, most of us take detours from the path we were meant to follow. My detour lasted quite awhile but I found the path and now I know what happiness truly is. Thank you for your kind words and for the visit. I appreciate your honesty and your well-wishes. I wish for you peace and happiness.

    • Rebecca2904 profile image

      Rebecca 5 years ago

      Thank you for writing this hub, Billybuc. I've read a few of your Hubs about what people can accomplish when they put their mind to it, but I believe that this is the one that's touched and inspired me the most. I've read quite a lot of your Hubs and in each one I got the sense that they'd been written by someone with enormous compassion and inner peace. I was quite shocked to read what you've shared with us about your younger self - so shocked I had to go up to the top of the page to make sure I hadn't clicked on someone else's Hub by mistake! I'm very glad that you've managed to get sober, have fallen in love again and have found an inner peace and happiness. I wish you all the best.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Theresa, I think you know that I respect you greatly, so your words humble me and make me feel very good inside. Thank you! If I sound like your favorite wise uncle then I am honored.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Hi Bill. On my goodness. What can I possibly say that hasn't been said so eloquently already. I am sitting here crying just like you and Sparklea and who knows how many others. Such important truths and such a tremendous and needed message for so many people.

      There is a way in which some of your hubs (this one) are like letters from a favorite wise uncle who was once a down home preacher. Don't know if that makes sense, but most of my family is from the south and it makes sense to us. :)

      Such a wonderful Hub. Sharing. Blessings. Theresa

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Raci! It is always nice to see you stop by for a visit.

    • raciniwa profile image

      raciniwa 5 years ago from Naga City, Cebu

      thank you for sharing this wonderful piece Bill...yes, every person we meet is an opportunity for us to grow...that's why i am always thankful for all who have been a part of my life, whether good or bad...they are all my teachers...

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Richie! I really do appreciate your comments and I'll be following you back. I'll visit you shortly to see what's going on with your site.

    • RichieGils profile image

      RichieGils 5 years ago

      Hi Bill, I must say you've written a truly beautiful Hub! Your personal and touching anecdotes really demonstrate the true meaning of love and friendship. I love the way you write and am voting up and following. Thank you for sharing!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Voronwe, your comment brought a smile to my face. Reading your profile and your hub just now has given me a better appreciation for the person you are. I look forward to following you and your words humble me. Thank you!

    • Voronwe profile image

      Voronwe 5 years ago

      An amazing hub, Mr.Holland...your presentation is one of a kind. The video was inspiring...and the part about showing the door out to the complainers - yes! There's nothing more exhausting than negative energy.

      I'm looking forward to read the rest of 'The Human Experience' series! It's so engaging to read how random moments and people had a positive influence in your life. Thanks for sharing them with us and the lovely pictures as well.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My pleasure Christy!

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Awe, thanks Bill for your wonderful comment for me!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Leslie, you humble me...thank you for the kind words and I am very grateful that you are healthy and back among us.

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 5 years ago

      The honor within you shines from each and every word, Bill! You are a lucky man, an intelligent man, and a grateful man - i LIKE that in a man!..lol..I cry too when i read or see a sad or unjust story - i know more could be done if more people cared deeply! Keep writing - what you have to say has impact and heart! Loved it!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are very welcome Christy! HubPages has been a great place for me because it has given me the chance to meet some wonderful people...like you! :)

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Compassion and empathy are so important. Thank-you for sharing your thoughts, family, and photos with us on a regular basis Bill. I enjoy getting to know you and your thoughts on our world.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pickles, that is the hope that I have...if I can just help one other person....thank you my friend. You are a kind and good person.

    • picklesandrufus profile image

      picklesandrufus 5 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      You summed it up so well. Love and acceptance is the answer for all pain. But everyone of us gets there from a different perspective, if we get there at all. The sum of all of your life experiences got you to a better place. Now your writings will help others. Vote up!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Marlene, truer words have never been written...I am blessed forever! I am smiling at your comment and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Blessings and peace to you my friend.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 5 years ago from Northern California, USA

      We really are the sum total of all the people we have interacted with in our lives - the good and the bad. They all teach us something. You deserve all the love you have been given throughout your life, because look at how much of it you have to give today. You are blessed forever.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LMAO...I feel much better now and I'm putting my hat on as I write this. Thanks buddy!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      ok....YOU ASKED FOR IT, YA DAMNED INSTIGATIN OLYMPIAN!!

      I am not sick....I feel perfectly lovely!! Thank you. The next time the sun is rising and the birds are chirping.....one of those birds will be me, flying over your head!! warning: Wear a hat!!

      There, do you feel better now?

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Paula, you are scaring me! What the hell? Only five sentences in a reply by you must mean you are sick. Are you okay? There are certain things in life we just expect, like the sun rising in the east and birds chirping and Paula leaving a detailed, lengthy and witty reply.

      I'm not sure I want to live in a world where your replies are.....normal!

      Oh well, thank you once again and please, if you are ill, go to the doctor immediately.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      bill....without the falls and bruises....mistakes and poor choices....we (ALL of us) would have learned not a damned thing really worth knowing, about life, love and purpose.

      And I do believe this may be the shortest comment, I've ever left for one of your hubs.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ginger, I appreciate that very much. HubPages is one of the best things that could have happened for me as a writer. The support has been remarkable. Thank you so much!

    • profile image

      Ginger Ruffles 5 years ago

      LOL, I do believe that's the first time I checked off just about everything available for checking. Beautiful & inspiring. We are lucky to have you here billybuc!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It is always a very real pleasure to have you stop by, Dianna! Thank you so much for your friendship.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      It is the people in our lives, past and future, that help us to learn important values. You have been blessed, and still are, by the many positive role models in your life. Your story is one that hits close to home for me. Thanks for sharing.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Cat! I'm so happy that I'm a pack rat who keeps old keepsakes like those photos. I appreciate your kind words; you have warmed the heart of this writer.

    • theclevercat profile image

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Bill -- as if your words were not descriptive enough, your personal photos just reach out and grab the reader. Terrific!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dexter, it is I who is touched by your words. I have a passion for writing because it gives me a venue by which I can reach out to people and possibly move them with my words...to make an impact. To know that people believe I have done that validates my decision to pursue this as a career.

      Thank you for the gift you have given me.

    • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

      Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States

      Billybuc! You aren't aware of this but, just as others, you have touched my life tremendously with your words and experiences. You have definitely been an inspiration and I am so glad we have "met." This hub is a true blessing, just as you are.

      I wrote yesterday in response to a hub you penned that you are a truly fascinating man. I thank you for being such for me, others and yourself.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Cool Cyndi, now we have that new con o' worms to discuss. That's what brothers are for, right? Excuse me....did you say a nursing home? Is there a hub on that experience because I want to read it?

      Thanks lil' Sis....see ya later!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Isn't it amazing what we remember? Those tiny tidbits of memories that really do grow and turn us into the people we are to become. I grew up in a nursing home and as the youngest of six. Life was always chaos. Now, I live in the country that is SO VERY QUIET - and I found my quiet place. I'm reluctant to give that up - I think that's one big reason I haven't had kiddos, either. The quiet just calls to me. But, that's a whole 'nother can o' worms. Have a wonderful evening. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Spy, you are a dear to say such nice things. Thank you so much.

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      A true person with a great heart who inspired people around him. You are an amazing person Bill. Thank you for sharing these experiences. I always love how you write from your heart and be true.

      Voted up and all.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Docmo, your comments humble me and I thank you! I'm just a traveler trying to do some good with the time I have remaining.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michele, that is always my hope. If my writing helps others then all of my experiences have been well worth it. Thank you for being so kind.

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 5 years ago from UK

      Bill, this is raw, meaningful, deep and to be treasured. It takes a man of rare courage and wisdom to be able to share these collective experiences in a positive, life affirming way. You, Sir, are a true Gent and an inspiration to us all. Bravo!

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 5 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      This is a wonderful hub. It is a blessing because even if it is just a hub, someone might read it. It might be someone who has not even told anyone he or she needs help.

      Voted up.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      American, thank you. I can live with political disagreements but I can't tolerate people not caring about each other. I appreciate your comment and your honesty.

    • American Romance profile image

      American Romance 5 years ago from America

      Billy, I suffered as you but with gambling, I went through much of the same. And I recently helped a homeless vet at whataburger that I see every Sunday when I get my breakfast. Your story and mine fit somehow into many Americans lives. Besides politics (that I wont budge on LOL) I need to do more, I guess we all do. Not through government but real help as you mentioned. voted up!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lea...LOL...pets should be spoiled. We have three dogs and a cat and every one of them is spoiled rotten. :) Bev and I send you our love and sincere thanks for being the beautiful human being you are.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Debbie, I don't know what to do with the brand of kindness that you give to me and others. It is humbling for me and I am grateful beyond words. I'm just a man who wants to give back in any way that I can and I know you understand that.

      Peace and happiness to you always,

      bill

    • Sparklea profile image

      Sparklea 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      Billybuc: Thank you for your feedback, so very emotional, but please know I meant every word. I personally believe crying is a STRENGTH. There are people I know who are very cold, they are the ones who believe in "having a thick skin" and a "stiff upper lip." I do not agree with that at all. To me the heart and tears go hand in hand. I actually love your story about sharing your hub with Bev and how you both shed tears. Truly I would not have been able to read it out loud without crying either. God bless both you and Bev real good. I can't remember if you have pets, but if you do, give them a hug too.(not to mention your wonderful family when you see them) Now I'm going to go hug my husband and our four cats: Frodo, Galadriel, Sylvester and Martha. :) PS: they are spoiled. In God's Love Sparklea :)

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      Billy you know I love your hubs.. You write from your heart. Deborah was right you have so much love to give. and you are right it is because you had wonderful parents. and I would love to meet this Deborah., I would love to grow up and be just like her. You are an awesome writer and an awesome person and you are like us all that go through bad situations and some of them our own faults but you over come and find the love that life has to offer. God bless you my friend I have shared this hub with a friend that her husband is an alcoholic and she doesn't know what to do.. .. sharing

      Debbie

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Okay, Lea, you had me crying! I'll tell you a little story...I had just finished writing this hub and I called Bev out to hear it before I posted it...and I could not make it through the whole thing because I was crying so much...and then she was crying. It just hit me while I was reading this what amazing gifts I had been given and how much love had surrounded me all those years and I was so happy I was overcome with emotions.

      And now you have me crying again! I have work to do and all I'm doing is crying. :)

      Thank you dear, sweet, precious friend. You have given me gifts that have value far beyond monetary.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Marcy, I can't imagine life if we did not learn from the lessons presented to us. It took me a long time but I finally pulled the blinders off and an incredible life was revealed to me. I am truly a lucky man and your words touch me more than you will ever know.

      Thank you and blessings to you always.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jools, I have been blessed beyond measure and it's now my job to give back. Thank you so much for your kindess.

    • Sparklea profile image

      Sparklea 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      Billy buc: First, I agree 100 percent, there just ain't no substitute for love! In fact, after reading your hub on the purpose of life being love, I have written "Love -purpose in life - per billy buc hub" on a piece of paper and placed it on my bed stand. Every night I read that paper and I read it again every morning.

      Keep pushing love on us! Please! Voted up and awesome!

      Your hubs indicate to me that your life has been God ordained. What wonderful stories you present to your readers, and how truly overwhelming it is ...the people God has brought into your life. I know you are blessed by them, but, remember, you are surely a great blessing to them also.

      By the way, I would LOVE Bev! I cannot believe how alike we are from what you shared. I thought I was the only one on the planet who mourned a dead animal on the road. Every time I see one, I get SO SAD, and I SO pray for the soul of that innocent creature. It totally breaks my heart into pieces.

      I weep every time an infant is born when I'm watching a movie or show. I saw my first grandchild being born, and I just wept with joy.

      I pray every time I hear a siren...for wherever and whoever that fire truck or ambulance is headed.

      My husband and I both sniffle watching an emotional story.

      We bought a car last week. The salesman told us he lost his mother the week before. Her house had burned down, and he said she had a walker and could not make it to the door in time. I burst into tears right in front of him and could hardly get out the words, "I am SO sorry." I bet Bev would have done the same thing. My heart SO ached for him.

      You are a testimony to those who have walked in your shoes. You have become better, not bitter, stronger, not weaker, and this hubber is so proud of all you have accomplished through your pains and your losses.

      You are a role model for many, many people.

      God bless you, billy buc ! :) Sparklea :)

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      Such touching thoughts - but then, what else would I expect from you, Dear Friend. It's inspiring to see one who has turned pain into wisdom and hard lessons into spiritual depth.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

      Bill, you have met some good people during your life so far and they have influenced you in a lasting way which is always a good thing. Being compassionate and kind can sometimes take seconds but its effects are immeasurable.

      Voted up and shared.