This is a revisit to a theme that I bring up on occasion in this blog, and during my public speaking events as well. You have to understand that your time on Earth is limited, no matter what your age is. The younger you are, the harder this concept is to grasp, I get it. I was there once too.
In this previous article I wrote, which you can read here , I shared something that my Dad and I have always talked about and tried to be aware of, and that is not just time left, but QUALITY TIME LEFT.
About a week ago I returned home from a fly fishing trip to the San Juan River in New Mexico with my Dad, my buddy Brett, and my cousin Jerry. We put this trip together and wanted to get some more time in on the water, but also add another trip to the memory bank. It was more quality time together, and there is no amount of money or other things that can replace this. In this particular case, this trip was extra special as my Dad had a hip replacement a few months ago, and this was the first trip out of state he and I have done together since. There was a point where I was not sure this would be able to happen again, as the pain in his hip was so bad he could barely walk. Obviously a trip like this includes hiking into a river canyon, stumbling around on the slippery rocks, and standing all day, much of which is quite difficult if not impossible for someone with a new hip.
The surgery was, as desired, uneventful. Things were fairly routine, and the doctor was happy with the results. In a few days, he was walking around without a walker or any assistance, eager to get back to his usual activities. We weren’t sure if this was in the cards yet, but were cautiously optimistic that more hunting and fishing trips would be in his future. But true to form, my Dad was back in action quickly, and has a full calendar of events this Fall. But this may not have been the outcome, and that is the part I am trying to emphasize. You shouldn’t take a situation like this and, with a good outcome, think that you can shrug it off like it was no big deal.
As much as I hate to think about it, I do make myself dwell on the fact that each one of these trips we do could be the last. Tomorrow is promised to no one. Let me say that again…
TOMORROW IS PROMISED TO NO ONE. PERIOD.
It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you have more time, that there will always be another day or another trip. That is just not the case. If you are lucky there will be more, but you cannot count on that. You need to make time for the people you love and the things you want to see and do. If you don’t you, will sit stewing with thoughts of “I wish I had done _______” and it will be too late to fix it. Regret is a terrible thing, trust me. And in most cases, the things you will regret are the things you HAVE NOT done versus the things that you did. This latest trip was a perfect example of this.
My Cousin Jerry flew in from PA to join us, only his second trip to this stretch of water. He spent a few extra days in CO, exploring, sightseeing and doing a some more fishing. He went to the hallowed waters of the Dream Stream and managed to figure out things enough to have some success. It is one of the most technical places to fish in the US (in terms of fishing pressure, matching the food sources, etc.) and he has a great story to tell about a big one that got away. My buddy Brett went with us, and got in a couple of sessions on the water before his back started giving him issue and unfortunately sidelining him for the rest of the trip. He made the right decision to fight another day instead of risking making that issue a lot worse. I hated to leave him behind, but he wouldn’t have let me sit at the house with him anyway and so the rest of us forged on without him.
With the logistics involved in a four day weekend of fishing, it would be easy to put it off to another time, to think that life will “ease up” and there will be a better, more convenient time to take off work or miss other things. I am old enough to know this is not the case. Life always gets in the way; it is a constant test to see if you keep your priorities aligned. I can tell you that all of the following is true:
My soul feels renewed after a trip like this
The memories last forever
I return refreshed and ready to dive back into my regular life
Some of my most creative ideas for work come during or right after a trip
When you look at a list such as this you may wonder why there would be any hesitation, but the reality is that we all do it. We allow things to get in the way of the what we want, need, and should do. We all say that we would do anything for family and friends; this should include committing to spending time together and making memories.
Here is the cold, stark reality: my Dad has a limited number of these trips left in his lifetime. It could be in the single digits at this point. That saddens me immensely, as he and I have spent a lifetime of fishing together. I will fish without him when I have to, but it won’t be easy. It will never be easy, but it will get easier as time passes. And this is the best of scenarios, as he should go first. Parents should never have to bear the burden of burying their children. So when he passes it will be sad for me, but it will not be tragic. Tragic would be him reading my eulogy.
Please, take my advice: Make Time For The People and Things You Love. You never know when your world will be radically altered forever. YOU WILL NEVER GET THAT TIME BACK. You have to operate your life with this in mind, and minimize your regrets at the end. None of us know when the end is coming, so you’d better assume it’ll be sooner rather than later and live accordingly. In the end, if your life was a long and happy one, you will be able to call that a successful ride. If it ends abruptly, you at least want to have some things to show for your time here on Earth. You don’t need to change the world, but you are responsible for living your own life to the fullest and getting the most out of your time. No one can do that but you.
I’ll leave you with this thought…by age 18, you have spent 80% of the time you will spend with your parents….