A Letter to my (Future) Sixty-five-year-old Grandson

As I approach my sixty-fifth birthday, my mind (what is left of it) wanders as it often does into the future. When you reach this milestone, I will be one hundred and thirty years old. I will probably either be dead or a regular on TV—if that even exists, it was in its infancy when I arrived on the planet.

What your world will look like we can only imagine.

I thought it might be interesting to compare the differences between the world I was born into, 1956, and the world you were born into sixty-five years later, 2021.

In 1956 the world was in the very midst of the arms race, as the US, Russia, and China sought to build as many nuclear weapons as possible to kill each other 1000 times over.

Elvis Presley had his first hit, Heartbreak Hotel

We elected Dwight David Eisenhower President and Richard Nixon became Vice-President. Nixon would lose a Presidential election to John Kennedy in 1960 then become President in 1968 then resign from office in 1974. He was a lesson in perseverance and arrogance.

Watch out for people like him, they arise periodically and wreak havoc with government and society.

Color TV was technically possible but uncommon.

There were three TV networks, and none operated 24 hours a day

Most telephones, if you were fortunate enough to have one, were hard-wired party lines, so you had to wait to make a call or listen in to others if so inclined.

The movie “The Ten Commandments” was a blockbuster with what were considered amazing special effects. Something you could do on a cell phone today with better results.

Rocky Marciano retired as the only undefeated world champion with 49 victories in boxing.

IBM invented the first computer hard drive. It weighed over a ton, was sixteen square feet in size, and could store 5 megabytes of information. It was astounding technology. The device I am writing this on has 100,000 times that capacity.

The Supreme Court in the case Browder V Gayle ruled racial segregation on public buses was illegal. (Yes this was 1956 not 1856, unbelievable I know.)

Fidel Castro incited the Cuban Revolution.

On the day I was born, July 25, 1956, the Andrea Doria collided with the S.S. Stockholm at sea off Nantucket, killing 52 people.

Not one manmade object had yet made it into space. (It happened in 1957 with the Russians launching Sputnik)

Average cost of a new house $11,700

Minimum wage $1.00

Average annual salary $4,450

Cost of a new car $2,050

Gallon of gas: $0.22

World Population: 2,835,299,673

You came into a much different world.

While we have reduced the number of thermonuclear weapons, there are still enough around to obliterate the entire population which now stands at 7,614,450 (and rising)

We have had our first Black President and First woman Vice President. Hopefully, in your lifetime, this will no longer be considered newsworthy.

Racial discord and discrimination still exist, but at least we are taking notice.

Above the earth there are thousands of active and inactive satellites, a permanently occupied space station, rovers on the surface of Mars, plans to send humans to Mars (which is likely to happen in your lifetime, perhaps with you on the trip), and we have discovered almost 5000 exo-planets in the galaxy.

Average cost of a new house: $408.800

Minimum wage $7.25 ( I know, right?)

Average annual salary $51,168

Cost of a new car $37,851

Gallon of gas: $3.143

But more important for you and your generation, you’ve been born into an existential crisis predicated on a fundamental disregard for truth.

I think it an easy prediction you will study the politics of these times as part of your education. No doubt much future research and analysis of what happened between 2016 and 2020 will offer insight into the troubling phenomenon of why we had a crisis of truth.

Somehow, truth and facts became not only malleable but open to interpretation. We somehow forgot the difference between opinion and fact. Instead of accepting facts that may differ from what some wanted to be true, they simply ignored them, claim they resulted from conspiracies, and just propagated “alternative” facts.

There are no alternative facts. A fact is a fact. A lie is a lie. And any attempt to conceal or alter facts to suit one’s own position is not only wrong but also dangerous.

One can hold opinions on food, music, art, and baseball but not truth, justice, or fairness.

When you are sixty-five, in the year 2086, I hope you are part of a society that recognizes and accepts facts and works toward insuring truth, justice, and fairness always win out over opinion.

I hope you play a part in making such a world better than the one you were born into.

When you look back, as I have done, on sixty-five years of life, I hope you take comfort in the fact you always sought the truth no matter what it may be and did your best to support it.

And I hope you live to at least one hundred and thirty so you can have this conversation in person with your sixty-five-year-old grandchild.

Tell them I said hi.

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JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Rethinking Intelligent Design

Intelligent design, a version of religious creationism camouflaged as science, has many adherents but little actual science to support it. It is a hypothesis essentially premised on ignorance—we cannot explain something, say the origin of life on the planet, so it must have some intelligent design (aka an omnipotent being) behind it.

Up until recently, the success of trying to teach such babble in public schools has failed and been unmasked for what it is, religion with a fake college degree.

However, I think the time has come to revisit the idea of Intelligent Design because of a recent scientific discovery about the makings of a comet named 46P/Wirtanen. (Link to story)

So why would the appearance of a rather common phenomenon such as a comet support the concept of Intelligent Design? The answer is as simple as it is startling.

You see, Comet 46P/Wirtanen contains a high level of Alcohol in its tail. The comet is a cosmic happy hour streaking across the solar system. Such a phenomenon can only have one explanation, Intelligent Design.

As is with many things in life, there is a misquote attributed to Ben Franklin about God and beer. The actual quote, while a bit long to fit on a t-shirt, still invokes the divine nature of alcohol.

Franklin wrote—the original was in French as he was Ambassador there—to his friend, the theologian, economist, philosopher, and writer André Morellet (1727–1819):

“We hear of the conversion of water into wine at the marriage in Cana, as of a miracle. But this conversion is, through the goodness of God, made every day before our eyes. Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, and which incorporates itself with the grapes to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy!”

Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Benjamin Franklin, by his grandson, William Temple Franklin, 1819

While Franklin may have seen a comet in his lifetime he couldn’t have known such a celestial phenomenon would be trailing across the solar system the very essence of what he saw as proof of a superior being.

While we may never be sure if this is the proof many seek, it is certainly an encouraging sign.

I wonder if I will live long enough to raise a class of comet-infused alcohol to the infinite mysteries of the universe.

It would seem to be the intelligent thing to do.

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JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Spending a Day

Yesterday, my wife and I took a day off from our usual activities to travel to New Shoreham, RI, aka Block Island. When we planned the trip, I am sorry to confess, it occurred to me, a native Rhode Islander, that I had never been to Block Island. At least, not that I could recall.

I’d been on fishing charters near the island but have no recollection of actually setting foot on the island. For those of you who only know Rhode Island as the smallest state in the union, considering that over the (almost) 65 years of life, traveling all over the world, I never ventured the 13 miles off the coast to visit Block Island, might seem odd.

It is not. It is a Rhode Island thing.

For those of us born here, we consider any trip of more than 10 miles an expedition that may involve suitcases, maps, and bag lunches,

But that’s not the point of this piece.

If one really thinks about it, you cannot kill time, time is killing us.

Author

On the way back on the ferry I said, “That was a nice way to spend the day.”

And it was, but the expression, “spend the day,” caught my imagination. Every day we are alive we are “spending the day.” In most cases it is more expending the day; caught up as we are in the daily habits and responsibilities of life, but we are nevertheless deducting one more day from our very finite total.

This led me to the expression, killing time. If one really thinks about it, you cannot kill time, time is killing us. Each passing moment brings one nearer and nearer to the last second.

Despite the pleasant music and lyrics of the Rolling Stones song Time is On Our Side, it is not. Time may be, as Einstein said, “a stubbornly persistent illusion,” but we cannot kill it, or save it, or stop it.

We can’t even slow it down.

We can, however, take time to notice it. To pay attention to it. And to “spend” it wisely. Anything else would be a waste of time.

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JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Metamorphosis

All the stages of raising a child from birth to adulthood have a distinctive experience about them.

From the first time a newborn’s face smiles in obvious recognition to seeing you, to their first words, their first steps, their first insistence on independence, each brings a sense of both immense joy and a bit of sorrow with each passing moment.

There is no greater achievement in life than to play a part in its continuity.

Author

It is a bittersweet experience raising a child, overwhelming at first until they become less dependent, when you realize how much you loved each moment of their total reliance on you. This change is subtle but relentless, until the day comes when you realize, while they will always be your child, they are no longer a child.

There is much satisfaction in seeing what was once such a tiny, fragile life go on out into the world and you know, as best as anyone can in this uncertain life, that they are now more than capable to thrive without you.

While we all knew this was the goal from the moment of birth, it doesn’t make the transition any easier.

Nothing brings this home more than the first time you see your child caring for their own little child. All those moments come rushing back in torrents of memories, tugging at your heart as you recall those times.

And yet this metamorphosis also brings with it a great sense of happiness, while your baby is no longer the child that depended on you for everything, she has become the most consequential of humans, a mother to a child,

There is no greater achievement in life than to play a part in its continuity.

A Place in the Sun

Like a long lonely stream
I keep runnin’ towards a dream
Movin’ on, movin’ on
Like a branch on a tree
I keep reachin’ to be free
Movin’ on, movin’ on
‘Cause there’s a place in the sun
Where there’s hope for ev’ryone
Where my poor restless heart’s gotta run
There’s a place in the sun
And before my life is done
Got to find me a place in the sun

Stevie Wonder, A Place in the Sun
beach during sunset
Photo by Bella White on Pexels.com

Finally, after what seems like a year that lasted a decade, we have enjoyed the first hints of warmer weather.  Our normal winter isolation, compounded by the draconian—but necessary—restrictions of the pandemic, seemed never ending.

But hope springs eternal and I have enjoyed those first glorious moments when one can sit back in a chair, close your eyes, and just feel the warmth of the sun massage away those winter blues.

At these moments—eyes closed, the orange-red-yellow patterns of light through my eyelids dancing before me, the warmth soaking in—I am brought back to the many similar past moments in the sun.

Days when the end of the school year came in sight with its promise of long, care-free summer days at our leisure. Or, as we migrated through the different stages of life, times spent at the beach—courtesy of the freedoms of a car and part time job—where we would gather whenever time allowed.

Long walks along Scarborough Beach in Rhode Island or Horseneck Beach in Massachusetts where sunscreen was for sissies and we wore our sunburnt skin like a badge of honor.

Or solitary moments, fishing pole in hand, standing on the shores of a lake or in a trout stream where, as long as the sun was on you, catching fish was a bonus not the goal.

It is these fleeting moments that often make the most lasting memories and illuminate a host of others.

It is also something we need to embrace with every opportunity for like the relentless continuity of time, clouds will come and cover the sun, robbing us of its comfort.  As long as we understand these dark moments are temporary, that they too will pass, we will be fine.

But we also must remember those warm moments in the sun are equally fleeting.

Next time you find yourself standing in a bright sun, take a moment, close your eyes, and absorb that warmth…find your place in the sun.

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The Lost Art of Irony

In Melba, Idaho, a group of parents have organized a prom for the local high school because the “official” prom was cancelled due to the pandemic. While I empathize with the loss of such events like the prom and graduation exercises, the public health concerns behind the cancellations still exist. (Link to story)

While there is a light at the end of the tunnel, we aren’t there yet.

Here’s the flyer for the event.

The apparently lost irony of this private event is in the name selected to compliment the “Great Gatsby” theme.

“A Little Party Never Killed Nobody”

The theme is a line from a song by Fergie used in the movie version of the Great Gatsby but not from the book by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The irony of the double negative is apparently lost on the parents. They might heed an actual quote from Fitzgerald that reflects on the past, loss, and regret.

Fitzgerald wrote,

“Suddenly, she realized that what she was regretting was not the lost past but the lost future, not what had not been but what would never be.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, “A Nice Quiet Place,” The Saturday Evening Post (31 May, 1930)

Parents have a responsibility to temper youthful wants with reality. They need to instill a sense of perspective that measures the risk against the loss. These are difficult times. More Americans have died during the pandemic than in the wars of the 20th century when America bore its burden proudly and with determination. That burden lasted years, we’ve barely made it one.

A whole bunch of them never got proms either.

If the parents want to give their children a lasting memory, make it one that has lasting meaning. A prom for most is something that will fade into the past, the memories overwritten by life. It is hardly a higher purpose worth risking lives.

The reality may be they could hold this prom and nothing would happen. It is the most probable outcome. Or, they could steal the opportunity for a long life from a young person for the sake of one memory. The words “a little party never killed nobody” may have melded well in the song, and may have fit the theme of the movie, but it is a poor justification for risking someone’s future.

The parents might be better served to take a quote from Oscar Wilde to heart before they go through with their plans.

“Experience is merely the name men give to their mistakes.”

Oscar Wilde, The Portrait of Dorian Gray

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JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

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A Life Well-Lived, in Perspective

Recently, we faced the reality of the tenuous and temporary nature of life. Ralph, our daughter’s fifteen-year-old Yorkie, began acting strange. Shaking and lethargic, we faced the real possibility that his time was drawing to an end and a decision would need be made.

As we all gathered around, each taking turns holding him and trying to hold back tears, the memories of his life with us came pouring out. He’s been part of our life since my daughter was in high school, soon she is to be a mother. Ralph is part of the very texture of our life. No one wanted to let him go, but we also knew no one wanted him to live his last moments in agony. Strange how we see the kindness and necessity of this with dogs but not people.

While he didn’t seem to be in pain, it was obvious he couldn’t walk well and began to shiver despite the blankets wrapped around him. We decided to see how the night went and reassess things in the morning.

It was not a restful night as more and more memories swirled up out of the past and played in my mind.

I am an early riser, as is my daughter. By 6:30 or so I could no longer wait so I sent a message. What I heard back was what I had dreaded all night, Ralphie was no better and they were taking him to the hospital. This was the same hospital where my daughter and son-in-law had taken Max when he suffered an unexpected medical emergency.

Max never came home.

When Max, Ralph’s companion Yorkie with whom he shared a love/hate relationship depending on the mood of the day, died,  I wrote how his death impacted us. https://joebroadmeadowblog.com/2018/01/07/just-a-dog/

When I read my daughter’s message, I asked them to stop by before they went to the hospital for one last goodbye. But they had already left and she didn’t see the message.  So I woke my wife and we waited in silence for them to let us know what was happening.

Then, we got the call, and the emotions engulfed me.

Turned out it was a muscle bruise that was the cause of his problem and with the help of some IV meds and a prescription for anti-inflammatories, he’d be fine. HIs days of two mile walks were over, but his days were not.

Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

Mark Twain, in a letter to the editor after a newspaper inadvertently published his obituary

Now I know someday the result of that call will be different, but that is not today. Yet it also occurred to me that now is the time to write about what dogs like Ralph mean to us. How they become family members in full standing and with all the rights and privileges thereof. Talk of these things now while they are still among us.

In Max’s case, we were away and never got to say goodbye but I now know it doesn’t matter because of all the times I got to say hello to him and Ralph as they romped through our lives. Those are the moments that matter and those are the moments we need embrace.

Hellos always outshine goodbyes.

Statistically speaking, Ralph may not have 10 years left but then again neither may I.  When it appeared his time had come, the feeling of sadness was overwhelming.  It occurred to me I liked him better than most people.

A lot better.

Now I have a different perspective on the course of life with dogs.

When the time comes, there will be no reason to say goodbye because I will have embraced every one of these remaining moments of hello. That’s the thing about dogs, every day they are with you are good days except the last one.

You can’t say that about people.

When a dog like Ralph or Max pass on, it is always sad. When some people do the same, it is a relief. It’s why dogs are so endearing to us and why I will make sure I enjoy each of those remaining moments with Ralph and all the others I hold dear.

This could never happen with a cat.

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JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

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Leaves That Are Green

This time of the year, when even on a warm sunny day the first hint of winter chill swirls in the air, the leaves draw our attention with their kaleidoscope of colors.

I find it amusing how we notice leaves at just two moments in their life cycle; when they first emerge as a harbinger of Spring and when they twirl in the windy eddies of the Fall. Their yellows and reds and multi-colored spectrum are a message from nature, if we’ve a mind to listen.

We are all like leaves, with our own shapes, sizes, and colors. An oak tree in New England may differ slightly from an oak tree in southern California, but it is still an oak and still a tree. Often we focus on the differences rather than that which makes us all human.

Colors of Life

One might use leaves as a simile for what it is to be human. Through the unveiling of hidden colors in Fall, nature reveals the infinite variety of hues of humanity that are contained in all of us.

And so it is with people. We see the only differences and forget the commonality of humanity. This symmetry of leaves, and the symmetry within all humans, is not the fearful one of Blake’s The Tyger.

Tyger Tyger, burning bright, 
In the forests of the night; 
What immortal hand or eye, 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

The Tyger, William Blake

Yet, it is from the same hand of nature, wondrous and magical, that paints with an imagination far beyond that of us mere mortals. Though we are surrounded by leaves all summer, except for the brief moment at the dawn of Spring, we hardly take notice.

Then, as if to draw our attention to the fragility of life and to remind us of the infinite variety within it, the leaves change. The colors emerge, they bring a moment of wonder to our eyes, the colors burst forth, then, as Paul Simon wrote,

…And the leaves that are green turn to brown
And they whither with the wind
And they crumble in your hand

Leaves That Are Green, by Paul Simon

Those swirling leaves that we often curse as we rake them, scrape them from our shoes, and sweep them from our floors are trying to tell us something. Life is not permanent; within every plain green leaf—and within every human being—lies the infinite colors of life if we take a moment to look for it before it is too late.

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JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

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Fate, Chance, and Choices

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

Blackbird by John Lennon & Paul McCartney

(Some thoughts on life and nature. Brought to you by the sacrifice of others we remember this Memorial Day)

A tiny baby blackbird, apparently fallen from its nest, drew my attention the other day. One of the adult birds, male or female I could not tell but I assumed it was the mother, attended to the little guy on the ground. I couldn’t tell if it was a scolding or an encouragement to stay brave, so I continued to watch.

Nature and Life

The adult flew off, leaving the little guy hopping and fluttering on the ground, unable to fly and pleading for its mother to return.

Often the drama of nature is right before our eyes. It is not where you look but when. I just happened to look at the moment this drama unfolded.

My first instinct was to do something. Return it to the nest, care for it until it could fly. My wife and daughter often tease me about my need to help. They say I am a boy scout. In many ways, they are correct. Something inside me compels me to do something, even when I am uncertain of what to do.

Like the case of a bird fallen from a nest and the reality of nature.

I struggled with the choice but decided I should let fate and nature take its course. The stark reality of life, and its ultimate logic, is if you can’t fend for yourself, you perish. Nature is not cruel, it is not heartless; it is agnostic to survival.

Some live, some die.

But I was still troubled by not doing anything to help a fellow living creature.

Perhaps it is not that nature is indifferent about life, about who or what lives or dies. Perhaps nature knows life is a continuity of existence that goes on forever. Whether we have self-determination—free will—to live our lives or whether it is all pre-destination, in the end, doesn’t really matter. Life preceded us, and life will continue after us.

As it would for this little guy.

In this case, the boy scout won out, and I captured the little guy, returning him to his nest. For the rest of the day, the two adults took turns calling to the little one who answered back but clung firmly to a branch just outside the nest.

If he chose not to fly, or could not, he would perish, and other living creatures would feed off his body. If he flew off, he might live a long life. I will probably never know if my interceding extended his life for just a moment or if he is now enjoying the freedom of flight.

If someday hence, I come out to find evidence of a bird’s excretions on my windshield, I’ll take it as a sign that while his life may or may not have continued, life does.

I hope the little guy gets to leave his mark on many windshields and flies long and far under a warm summer sky.

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Reaching the End and Realizing What Really Matters….

Katahdin
Mt. Kathadin…the end of the trail

This will be the last of the re-postings of old pieces. I am compelled to speak out about things and will resume doing so on Monday April 6th. But for now, I hope you stay healthy and happy and safe and I hope this makes you think about what is really important in life.

September 3, 2014

All along the trail, from Georgia to Maine, I have thought about what I would write after climbing Mt. Katahdin.

How would I explain the trail?

I tried to find words that would capture the trail’s effect on those that hike it.

I wanted you all to feel it.

I don’t have the words.

No one does.

Some things cannot be explained, they must be experienced.

I do have this to share.

In walking the 2185 miles, I’ve had time to think.

Quite a bit, frankly.

It’s given me time to realize I’ve wasted many of the precious moments of my life, pursuing things that didn’t matter, at the expense of things that do.

It’s made me resolve to focus on the important things.

The people in my life.

Family.

Friends.

We spend much of our lives on trivial inconsequentialities.

Pursuing things that no one will remember after we die.

And since we all will die, it’s important to embrace those fleeting moments while you have them.

There’s a Vietnamese expression, “Bui Doi”. Miss Saigon fans will recall it. This translates roughly as “homeless” or “the dust of life”

I think it applies to many of the things we waste time on.

We fill our lives with meaningless technology that segregates, rather than connects.

We stare at our cell phones and iPads.

We text, email, and Tweet.

All at the expense of the truly important things.

Human contact with family and friends.

Or, as I learned many times on the trail, the chance to meet the many good people on this planet.

Walking the trail gave me the opportunity to review my life.

I am a lucky man.

I haven’t always shown, to those people most responsible, that I appreciated my good fortune.

I’ve come to realize the most important moments in my life were never about career achievements, money, or possessions.

They were about friends I’ve known for most of my life and new ones along the way.

It was about meeting my wife Susan, and somehow convincing her to marry me.

It was about seeing my daughter Kelsey open her eyes and smile, moments after she was born.

It was the privilege of watching that brand new life, whose first action on this planet was to bring tears of joy to my eyes just by opening hers, grow into the remarkable young woman she is today.

Those are the things that truly matter.

Thank you, Susie and Kelsey, I am a most fortunate man for having you
In my life. I should have told you more often.

If I can give you anything in return for your taking time to follow along on this journey, it would be that you take a moment to embrace the people in your life.

Tell them you love them.

Tell them you care.

Tell them.

The day will come when that will no longer be possible. Don’t wait.

For that is what truly matters.

Use the time you have to enjoy those precious gifts of family and friends.

Not to be overly dramatic, but there are sections of the trail where one slip, one bad decision, and you end up a news blip of a tragic death.

Those are the moments you see how fragile life really is.

No one knows how much time we have.

Spend your time wisely.

I am determined, from this moment on, to do just that.

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

Lao Tzu

DONE!