Life and Living

I read in the newspaper where there is another athlete in trouble with Uncle Sam. The article caught my eye because this was one of the athletes that played college football around the same time that I did.He was lucky enough to catch the eye of a coach that realized his undeveloped talent or maybe he was just in the right place at the right time to take advantage of his opportunity.Either way, or probably because of both situations, he had made it to the big leagues for several years where he had had a successful career.Success may come once from luck, but continued success is a product of perseverence and goal-oriented preparation.Unfortunately, all of the hard work that this athlete put in on the field did not spill over off the field.Now, the IRS is requesting $150,000 that, I’m sure, had just slipped his mind.Heck, in may even be in the pocket of another pair of his pants.Someone once said that there are two guarentees in life: death and taxes.Seems like more CPAs could be running for the office of county coroner.

If death and taxes are inevitable parts of life, then there’s not much we can do to change these. Thus, they are “inevitable.”The way that you save, invest and spend your money and pay your taxes is as individual as how people live their lives. If you have a job and earn a paycheck, then the IRS is going to want some of it. Your mother brought you into this world, one day you’re going to leave. How you spend your time in between is up to you.If you don’t invest your time wisely, the celestial IRS may come knocking and request more payment than you were prepared to make.

There is a difference, however, in life and living. Life is the time between birth and death. Living is how you spend that time.It’s the ride.The way that you spend the time between your first breath and your last is as individual and enjoyable as you want to make it.It’s like putting on your running shoes or hopping on your bike.You can just take off from the driveway and go whichever way you want to go and for as long as you want to go.Some trips are short, maybe even stopped prematurely by some unforeseen bad luck.Some trips are epically long, full of great views and experiences.Sometimes that time is enjoyable and sometimes it’s a struggle.You can take a map or GPS with you or you can just wing it and hope that you find your way back home.You can go as fast as you want to, ride or run on the edge of danger, or go for a slow and easy stroll.Every once in a while, you’re going to have to stop on the side of the road and rest. Sometimes you’re going to have to refuel.But, the cool thing is that, if you want to, you can enjoy the scenery or you can focus on the road. You can decide to stay in your neighborhood and stay on the same streets that you are used to or you can venture out and enjoy some roads that you’ve never been down. Just be careful to look for traffic, potholes, and dogs.

There’s all kinds of articles and guidelines about how and how much you are supposed to exercise. There’s even more information about how to live life and how much you are supposed to enjoy it. Some of this information, in both regards,is helpful and comes from authors, who have studied the data and talked with other participants about their experiences and what worked or did not work for them.Some of these authors are just idiots.There are all kinds of ways to go about exercise and life. Some of it is smart, but sometimes you just look at how people are going about things and think, “What were they thinking?”Don’t run through the house with scissors. Don’t jog through downtown naked. In either case, something bad is going to happen that is going to make you feel silly later.

To me, the best part about these journeys and tests, is not the activity itself, but the stories that come from them.It’s hard to tell your kids or grandkids great stories about living if your experiences are limited to your cubicle at work and a TV dinner at night. I have old teamates that remember every play of every game. I can only remember a few.The plays weren’t as monumental to me as the entire week of practice and the game experience itself.Anyway, my kids don’t want to hear about me missing a tackle on a fake punt against Virginia Tech that cost us the game as much as they like to hear the stories about the tiny wide receiver from New Jersey that used to wear his girlfriends underwear to practice when all of his were dirty or about how the state troopers used to escort our buses from the hotel to the stadium going 70mph through downtown Columbia, SC with “Kickstart my Heart” blaring through the speakers of the bus.

I only remember snap shots from individual races, but the stories that come from the races and the preparation are what we laugh about over dinner and a beer when we get together with friends and family. Even the tough times are easier to talk about, maybe even laugh about, when we share stories of triumph and struggle.I remember very little from St. Anthony’s Triathlon a few years ago.Very little about the race, that is. I remember seeing one of my medical school class mates at the finish line as he handed me a bottle of ice cold water.Hadn’t seen him in more than 10 years and it seemed like I hadn’t had water in almost that long.I remember seeing Trebor flying towards the finish line in his wheelchair; a true story of desire and perseverance after being hit by a car while riding his bike a few years before. I also, remember my best friend leaving his cycling shoes in the parking lot the night before the race, having to buy new cycling shoes at 5AM at the expo the morning of the race, and then, after sprinting to get to the starting line, realizing that his age group had already started while he was standing on the beach with his wife.The story of him running from the crowd on the beach and into the water, several minutes behind his starting group, and hearing the bewildered murmurs from the crowd (“Who the heck is that guy and where did he come from?”) is one of those stories that always gets a laugh at our get-togethers.

Now my children and I ride our bikes around the neighborhood some evenings after the sun goes down behind the treeline and I’m getting all new stories to tell.Just another road I’ve never been down. My son tells me that one day he and Little Baby Jesus will play Go Fish in heaven. I’ve had to explain to my daughter why little boys and girls don’t have sleep overs together until they are 28 years old and have been married for five years. The best thing is that I don’t remember much about the rides, how hot it was, what my heart rate was, or even how far we had ridden.But, man, I’m getting some great stories to tell grandkids one day and most of them will be about the trip and not the final destination.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.