When we were planning this journey across America, one thing I was looking forward to was the time I would have to reflect. I realized there would be countless hours with just me and my thoughts, as scary as that may sound, and it would bring the opportunity to put things in perspective. Finally, with all of life’s stressors in the background, I would truly have a chance to figure out what’s important in life. Heck, I might even find answers to the questions that have plagued mankind for centuries. You know, why are we here, and what is it all about?
While I am still working on those age-old questions, I have been able to navigate through the cobwebs leading to my brain, as well as wade through the dead brain cells that are the residue of decades of a continuous stream of beer. I think I made it all the way to my brain matter, as if that matters, and had a chance to really reflect on my life. It is still a work in progress, however, it is amazing how clearly you can think when all the distractions are out of the way. Well most of them anyways, there are the cars and trucks whizzing by, and the threat of coyotes and rattle snakes with every step after all, but you can’t have everything, can you?
At the age of 56, I have more mileage behind me than in front of me. Well, maybe not from a walking standpoint, but most likely from a time point of view. At least I doubt I will make it to 112. With that in mind, I realized that I lived a life similar to most others. Part of that reality is what I want to change.
In my 20’s 30’s and 40’s, the primary goal was to provide for my family. That meant going to work each day, fighting traffic, and putting up with the demands of customers and bosses. Much of it was truly BS, but we do what we have to do to put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads. It’s considered normal and hum drum, and most people complain about it. That is, they truly aren’t completely happy with their lives, or for that matter, fulfilled. I was no different.
I was lucky in some ways in that I had a level of freedom with my jobs that many desk type jobs don’t have. I never had to punch a clock, nor was tied to a desk. My jobs allowed me, for the most part, to attend the kids, and now grand kids functions, whether it be sporting events or school concerts. That is truly something that cannot be replaced in my mind. What I have realized, is that it’s the memories, and the time I’ve spent with loved ones that truly stands out on this journey through Chuck’s surviving brain cells.
Life changed for me in a heartbeat however. At age 54, health issues that I never expected slammed into me like a ton of bricks. These are the types of health issues that prevent people from fulfilling many of their dreams that are so easy to put off. Heart attacks take the lives of folks in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and beyond, before people ever really start living. What I mean by that, is so many people with all sorts of dreams about life after work and after most of life’s responsibilities have ended, are struck down before they can live out their dreams.
I was lucky, diagnosed and treated in time and given a second chance. For me the choice was clear. I would now plan to live, as Frank Sinatra once said, my way. Sure, I’m only 56 now, and in order to live in today’s world, I will have to find a way to make a living. Living today isn’t cheap, and there is the reality of paying for healthcare, food, shelter, etc., but for now, at least for the next 6 months as we trudge across this great nation, I am going to do it my way. I am going to enjoy the journey, stop the worrying, and enjoy all that this country and its people has to offer.
That can be hard for me in some ways, as the old habits of dwelling on problems and letting the small stuff bring me down still pop up from time to time. Still, I am working everyday to find the joys that life has to offer. Hey, maybe that is what it is all about. It most likely is different for each and every one of us, but maybe getting joy out of life should be our primary goal. Maybe it is fulling a dream, or helping others (finding your purpose), or simply having fun. It really doesn’t matter as long as you have identified that for yourself and you are experiencing it each and everyday.
We have a long way to go until we get to Myrtle beach, and a lot more time to ponder life, but I can tell you this, I am going to enjoy each and every step, even the ones that aren’t very comfortable. There is a big world out there, and I want to see it up close.
When my story is finally written, I want there to be few regrets. I want the people who meant so much to me over the years to know exactly that. I want to have accomplished something significant in this world, something that has meaning. We have targeted that “something” that has meaning in my life right now. It is what nearly took me out, heart disease, and with the help of the world’s best wife, no offense to the other wives out there, we are making progress one town at a time, one step at a time, and one interaction at a time. After this journey is said and done, who knows what is next, but I can tell you this, we are going to figure it out and go for it.
You see, what I have found out so far, and it is early in the process, is that there is a life to live. Not how someone else wants you to live, or what anyone else, including society thinks you should do, but what you want and think you should do, what fulfills you.
More to come as I continue to find these answers, but I hope each and everyone that reads this finds their own happiness and fulfillment. Maybe all it will take is some dedicated time to think about it all. I would highly recommend finding a distraction free way to reflect. It will be well worth it, because the way I see it, none of us are beyond hope!