Truth statement. I rarely get sick so when I do two things happen. First, I get really, really, sick. The kind that knocks me off my feet, takes the wind out of my sales, and decommissions me for several days. Second, I’m a terrible patient which means from the initial onslaught of the illness, I’m already scheming a way to get back my normal routines. Now it doesn’t take a blind person to realize that those two events feed off one another and tend to make the sickness even sicker and the healing much slower.
The last two weeks are testament to those statements. I valiantly ignored to get a flu shot this year, much as I’ve ignored doing the past three years. A simple cold became strep throat which eventually became the flu. My flu condition was further compounded by bronchitis, something I am still feeling the remnants of this week. And, for the first time in nearly 10 years of teaching group fitness classes, I had to take a full week off from teaching anything as my body was simply too weak to exercise and my bronchial cough would not allow me to complete any full sentences. My mental faculties were in tact and my frustration fueled many a day of headaches.
Why do I do this to myself year over year over year? Granted this time was probably the worst case but I still manage to work myself to exhaustion. Well, the answer is very simple. It’s all Tim Russert’s fault!
Let me explain.
In June, 2008, longtime journalist, Timothy John “Tim” Russert, passed away at the very young age of 58. The cause of his death was concluded to be the result of a pre-diagnosed coronary artery disease which led to blockage of one of his major arteries, thus resulting in cardiac arrest. Admittedly, I was not a huge follower of Russert’s “Meet the Press” show on Sunday mornings. However, I knew enough about him to say I liked his work, I liked his character, and I liked everything Tim stood for.
His death shook me a little more than other celebrity passings. I tuned into the biographies about him the ensued the days after his untimely death. But it wasn’t Tim’s death that relates back to my exhaustive ways. Tim’s eulogy was delivered by his son, Luke, just 22 years old and had recently graduated college. In his remarks, the younger Russert talked about his dad in words that many outside of the family’s inner circle may not of known. Luke described his father as one who avidly followed the philosophies of the great, Yogi Bera, jokingly sharing a quote that Tim would often say: “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t go to yours”, which lightened the mood of those in the audience that day. On a more serious tone, Luke said his father’s principles answered the following: “Would our actions today yield respect for our families, been a credit to our faith, and a benefit to our fellow man.” In a world where many men lead with their egos, Luke described his father as a man who led with his heart, his compassion, and most importantly, his honor.
The eulogy is a beautiful tribute to a beautiful man. Still, the most memorable part of the Luke’s speech for me is a quote he shared from George Bernard Shaw that has served as my rallying point since 2008. The quote is the following:
“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.
I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”
George Bernard Shaw
That’s my life in a nutshell and right or wrong, I believe we’re all here on this earth for a very short amount of time. Why not make the most of it?
Another friend of mine from Atlanta used to share a quote as well. She was a recovering volunteer-aholic much like myself! Her quote was, “You’re either busy living or busy dying. Which would you rather be?”
For me the answer was back then and remains the same today….I’d rather be busy living.
My message to everyone today is not one to pat myself on the back. Many of you may never know the areas around the city where I’m doing volunteer efforts, and I prefer that anonymity more often than not. You see, it’s never about what’s in it for me. I truly believe that it’s in the no-one knowing part of all this that brings me the most joy.
I told you yesterday that today’s workout was going to relate back to Superman. I found out recently that the reeving of my engines at a very high RPM for the past several months was not a good thing. Even the best engines in NASCAR eventually have their breaking points. Every “superman” has his or her kryptonite. I’ve shared a little insight as to what’s mine.
At the end of the day, I think God wouldn’t want things any other way. The activities that forced me to be side-lined for the past two weeks have given me time to rest and relax while my wife and I prepare to journey back to El Salvador next week. Truth be told, I probably would not have slowed down had it not been for my body being “thoroughly used up”. And for that reason, I am truly thankful. I am now ready for what will be a challenging week ahead building homes, health and hearts in a small village in the western countryside in Central America. Oh the irony!
We all have a splendid torch that we carry through life. My prayer today is that you decide what your flame is burning for, what are you championing in your own life, and who will you hand off that torch to in the future.
Now….let’s get busy living!