By Vernon A. Williams
I did not need deaths in the family to reinforce how important it is to love on friends and relatives while you still have a chance. You don’t need any lectures on the necessity either. It’s not that we don’t realize. We mean well. It’s just that life gets in the way.
We have gone from a nation working for a living to a nation living to work. The hours we spend on the job have skyrocketed. We take more work home than ever. Many people that I know talk about frequently having work-related dreams. Sadly, some are so stressed out about job worries that they don’t sleep well or can’t get to sleep at all.
Americans take far fewer days off and vacations than others in the western world. Don’t get me wrong. Gainful employment is fulfilling and healthy for the mind and body; not to mention the fact that it enables many to enjoy the finer things in life.
But there has to be balance. There has to be a point when you cut off the computer, shut down the ‘smart’ phone, power off the tablet and draw in a deep breath of fresh air…then exhale with arms outstretched.
Slow down enough to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Savor life and loved ones.
Now in truth, we can’t blame everything on work. Some folks don’t visit or call friends or relatives because they are too busy doing nothing. They might be retired, between career situations or self-employed and still don’t take time out for vital human connections.
And even when hard working people have the time needed, they allow two things to circumvent the path to staying in better touch with loved ones.
The first is PROCRASTINATION, which inspires the adage, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” For many, there is no better thought than getting started on something … tomorrow. The second issue is DISTRACTIONS – filling free time with meaningless, uneventful activity; such as mindless television and the internet.
A “busy” friend intimated over the past week that he wishes he had 34 hours in a day. My response was, if such an extension was provided, he would still ask for another two or three hours in time. We need to better prioritize. We need to act more than think.
That’s why when my brother, Bruce, lost his beloved wife Josie, I felt compelled to share with him how important of a contribution he made in my life.
Bruce was the one of my six brothers charged with the responsibility of picking me up from kindergarten at Froebel School on 15th Avenue in Gary and walking me home. He was the brother who taught me how to tie a tie. He took the time to teach me how to drive. He schooled me on the etiquette and essentials of air travel.
Bruce was the brother who never missed one of my plays when I was writing and producing with the Gary Creative Theater Ensemble along with Stephan Turner and the William Marshall Players with Al Boswell.
When I was shot shortly after returning to Gary after from graduating Indiana University, Bruce was the first sibling to visit me in Methodist Hospital where it took a week for me to recover. He brought me the book, “Jonathon Living Seagull” – an inspirational book with a message rejecting materialism, conformity and limitations in pursuit of life’s dreams.
Yes, Bruce is deep. He is the family historian and an intellectual. At the age of 79, he is a former president of a ship builders union down on the Gulf of Mexico and still lives near my Pascagoula, Mississippi birthplace. He is still employed as an educator and trainer for crafts persons in that industry.
When he came to Gary for the graveside ceremony of his wife, he stayed with me the night before and we drove to Northwest Indiana together. It gave me a chance to share these and other reflections with him while he could still hear them all – rather than as some memorial tribute after he is gone.
I thank God for having that opportunity.
So, as I travel to St. Louis only two weeks after that home-going to attend memorial services for my sister, Joyce, I felt compelled to share these feelings and remind you (because you really already know) to take time from your hectic schedules to let relatives and friends know how much they mean to you.
This is real life – not a rehearsal. There is no do over. We can’t rewind the tape. Forget whatever it is that you haven’t done enough of in the past and just make up for lost time while you still have the opportunity.
CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].