Lessons Learned the Hard Way

As I look ahead to 2014, I realize that I have spent too much of 2013 focusing on what I have lost, and not enough on what I have learned.  While I may be tempted to add “and good riddance to 2013” after shouting “Happy New Year” tonight, the past year has taught me some powerful lessons.  While they were hard lessons to learn, I am grateful for them.  Here are a few:

There is never enough time with those we love.  My Dad died in January.  He had inoperable cancer, and we knew what the end result would be.  We tried to savor the time that we had together before he passed.  It wasn’t enough.  I realize, though, that no quantity of additional days, weeks, months, or years would have been.

Time passes quickly.  In my mind, I often feel that I am about the age of my eldest daughter.  When I do, I’m ignoring three intervening decades.  I’m not sure where they went, but I know that I can’t get them back.  In another 30 years, I’ll be 80.  I have a lot of living to do between now and then.

Nothing should be taken for granted.  A few months ago, I walked into my boss’s office for my mid-year review, armed with the confidence that came from knowing that I had already surpassed my year-end revenue goals.  I walked out with a letter from HR explaining that my position had been eliminated.  Things don’t have to make sense for them to be real.

We are more than our work.  The extent to which the layoff knocked the wind out of me has made it clear that what we do for a living should only be a part of who we are.  Defining oneself in terms of something that can so easily be taken away is not a recipe for happiness.

Things may not be what they appear.  Imagine the most “together”, confident, successful, popular person you can.  Then imagine him deciding that his family would be better off without him, and ending his life.  I received word of that happening to a friend a few days before Christmas.  Regardless of appearances, we are all fighting a battle of some sort.

Hard lessons, but important lessons.

Be good to each other, and to yourself.

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