My birthday is yet again quickly approaching. I have always loved my birthday. It is always nice to feel special even if I do get a little older each time. I will turn 43 in June, and I have to wonder if my best physical years are behind me?
My body is not what it used to be, and most of that is due to the fact that I love food. I always like to joke that I am on a seafood diet — you know, I see it and I eat it. But this past January as the new year rolled around it was time for my yearly visit to my doctor for lab work. The news wasn’t good. My lack of control with food had finally caught up with me, and it caused me to really look at my past, present and future in a different light.
My doctor asked me an astonishing question, or at least to me it was. Do you want to see your kids grow up? Ouch. How dare him ask me such a question? Sometimes when things sting, it is typically since the content or the meaning of the sting is true and shouldn’t be ignored, but yet we tend to make excuses as to why it is not our reality.
If you know me at all, then I hope that you know a few things about me. If you don’t know me, then let me explain some of the things I value in life. First and foremost, I love my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I love my family – even the ornery ones, and I love my wife and children deeply. I love life in general, and nature, even when it grumbles at us. Is there anything better than sitting on the porch swing watching a thunderstorm rolling in across the valley, or a pristine field of snow that hasn’t been scarred by footprints? Nature holds such magic to me. Every sunrise or sunset is different, every color holding its own unique texture. I love cars, tractors, sports and I love my job. (I also love Terry’s hoagies and Frisch’s hot fudge cakes).
There are many other things that make me who I am, but these are a few examples of why I love life. So, as you can see, the doctor’s question stung on that January morning. I had a statement that popped into my mind as I sat there, and it took me back to a movie that I’m sure many of you have seen. The movie was “Shawshank Redemption,” and one of my favorite scenes in the movie is a conversation between Andy Dufresne and his prison friend Red Redding. Andy turns to Red and says, “I guess it comes down to a simple choice really, get busy living or get busy dying.” What a question for us to ponder in life.
That day with the doctor I chose to get busy living. You see, I have far too many things in life that I love even more than food. It also helped me realize that I have spent far too much time in my life sweating the small stuff.
I continually see people argue over the most ludicrous things. Most of the time it is due to the person simply wanting to be right. I have been found guilty of this same disease. Once upon a time a middle school teacher said something to my class that has stuck with me through the years. He said, “There are three kinds of people in this world: People who make things happen, people who watch things happen, and people who wonder what happened.” That stuck with me because at the time I was a person who typically watched what happened.
All too often in life I see people complain about their lot in life. They grumble at small things that in the grand scheme of things are not that important, but what I usually don’t see is action. I don’t usually see these same people come with a problem and yet offer a solution, or better yet actually offer to volunteer to make things happen.
A minister once said in a sermon that he would like to have this put on his tombstone when his life was at its end: “Construction complete.” I loved this so much that I added this statement to my twitter bio the next day: Under construction, God isn’t finished with me yet.
You see, I am like the clay the potter molds and adds water to and tirelessly shapes until it is ready to be dried and hardened. On that day at the doctor’s I made the same choice that Andy made. I needed to get busy living. How about you? I am sure as you are reading this article something is going on in your life that you are stressing about, arguing with someone about, or just a simple vice that you need to quit. There is no better day than today.
This article took a little bit of a turn that I wasn’t expecting. As I began, my direction was where has the time gone? I promise, I think it will all tie together when I am finished.
As my birthday nears, and my wife and I will witness our second child graduating high school and heading off to college, I am reminded that time doesn’t stand still for anyone. Just a few short years ago my wife and I were in a hospital room at Clinton Memorial Hospital. We were anxiously awaiting our first child. I now sit here almost 21 years later wondering where in the world did that time go? How many mistakes have been made in that span of time? I sit here and wonder if the potter is growing tired of molding me. Am I missing the work of his hands; the direction that I should trod?
I am reminded of a time I was riding in the truck with my father as we drove from our home to some destination that I truly can’t remember, but we were traveling at a very slow pace. My father never seemed to get in a hurry when he did much of anything. Everything was always meticulous and methodical. As a young kid, I had places to be. You know, things to do. I was growing very impatient and I blurted out, “Dad! Why are you driving so slow?” His answer still lingers in the back of my mind as I drive from time to time today. He said, “I am enjoying the journey. Where we are going will still be there when we get there.”
Today, I hope as my Dad did on that day, that you are enjoying the journey. Stop and smell the roses as you leave the house each day and treasure each and every moment as the potter continues to mold your clay.
Get busy living.
Chad McConnaughey is the Highland County recorder.