Lifetime Discovered With Stolen Kiss

I’m still not sure why she said yes.

Thirty-four years ago this month a beautiful young college student, sitting three rows behind me in a history class, agreed to go to lunch.

Two days later we found ourselves in a small deli looking over club sandwiches our nerves wouldn’t allow us to eat.

Love is funny like that. Neither of us was looking for Cupid’s stealthy participation – actually quite the opposite. Newly minted into the adult world, we were looking forward to years of independent self-discovery and adventure. Those plans, however, did not include getting pricked by an arrow.

“The elevator kiss.”

Ask when we first realized we were no longer on an ordinary date you’ll get these three words.

The literary world is great at romanticizing the act of falling in love. First sight, first touch, first words.

To us, two young kids looking into an unknown future, it all came down to stolen moment in a moving glass elevator.

I’m not sure why I kissed her other than I was too nervous to know better. The kiss only lasted a moment, but lasted a lifetime. I knew right then and there my future arrived. And if you ask my wife, she’ll say the same.

Love is a mischievous and elusive enigma. Unlike most things in life – a job, a house, or a new car – you cannot go looking for love. Rather, love needs to find you.

But love is also only the foundation of a life together. As temperamental and paradoxical as love can be, the embers can be extinguished as quickly as they arrived if unattended. A long-term relationship is going to take the courage of fully giving of oneself to another. In other words, the giving of unmitigated trust.

My wife and I tell our kids it took a long time to get where we are today. There were periods of time where we wondered if love was enough to get us through some very difficult times. But we hung on, continuing to invest in each other.

Today I am married to my very best friend, mother of our two wonderful children, and someone who still fills me with butterflies at the end of the day.

But the reality is we are each a long way from the couple staring over club sandwiches in a small deli after class. Each with separate dreams for our futures, we listened to the unexpected voice encouraging us to create a singular path in life together.

Call it what you will, but my wife and I joke God brought us together, leaned back, laughed, and said “this ought to be fun to watch.”

Our thirty-four years together have felt like a lifetime – and one I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. Together, since her questionable judgment of agreeing to lunch date, we’ve each grown, evolved, and built a life together I never dreamed could exist. And, literally speaking, I love her with all my heart and soul.

– 30 –

 

 

 

 

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Road Trip of Self Discovery Rewarding

“I consider the fact I’m still alive a win.”

Our son is currently traveling solo in an old SUV loaded down with a tent, sleeping bag, and a burning desire to see what he’ll discover over the next horizon. With an agenda loosely based on visiting national parks – camping, hiking, and biking – he’s unknowingly finding himself with each new day.

As trite as is sounds, life is indeed a journey. With each day comes an opportunity to peel away the mysteries of the life – both visually as well as those hidden between our ears. Each experience, each interaction with a stranger, carries the potential to answer not only the questions we are seeking, but those we never knew to ask.

When roughly my son’s current age I read book with a similar goal. My Travels With Charlie, written by American author George Steinbeck, helped me understand the power of self-discovery and the value of embracing the fear of not knowing what the future – let alone tomorrow – holds. Steinbeck was closer to my age now than that of my son when he and his dog drove nearly 10,000 miles discovering the American landscape and people he’d written about his entire career. Each day unveiled a new vision through the windshield, a new personal interaction, and a new lens from which to examine the world he quickly realized he only thought he knew.

If done correctly, each of us can live our entire lives unlocking the world around us. But it takes courage. To leave behind what you know – armed with only preconceived opinions and incomplete knowledge of the world – can be unsettling. But it is just those experiences that make us who we will one day become.

Our son has spent many nights of his journey sleeping on the ground with only a blanket of bright stars to keep him company. Morning coffee requires building a fire instead of pushing a button on a machine. Beans, eaten from a can, he tells me, taste amazing.

His road is unplanned for the most part – anchored by a patchwork of national parks or a town he discovers on a roadmap.

One afternoon he phoned after a 17-mile, one-day solo hike in Yosemite National Park.

“Twelve hours alone with your thoughts is pretty amazing,” he said.

“You really find out who you are when you’re exhausted and realize you’ve 4-miles to go. You’ve no choice but to just keep walking.”

Right there, on the mountainside, he’s learning a life lesson – and one you generally need to acquire through experience. Circumstances in life will, at times, become difficult. And many times the best answer, just like on the mountainside, is to put your head down push through.

I’m not sure whom I’m going to meet when our son eventually finds his way back to our driveway. I know I’ll recognize the SUV, the mountain bike, and the luggage. But beyond that, I’m going to be meeting a new person in a very familiar package.

– 30 –

Respect, Accountability Key in Society

Recent headlines paint a dangerous picture of our society and the eroding level of respect extended to police officers. The recent shooting of a sheriff’s deputy in Houston serves to underscore what many believe to be an unpinning of regard for authority towards those sworn to protect us.

I’m not going to get into the pointing of fingers and placing blame – doing so is a much more complex issue and one I am certainly not qualified to address. But when it comes to respect for those serving our society, be it police, fire, or emergency services, I strongly support of upholding the respect for authority as we as a society extend to them.

Many of us personally know individuals in service. Many are friends, family, or neighbors. They leave  each day, serve the community, and return home to their families. The key difference, however, is they face a much different world from the rest of us while on the clock.

According to Officer Down Memorial Page (www.odmp.org), an organization dedicated to nationally recognizing police officers that have died in the line of duty, 83 individuals have lost their lives in service to society thus far in 2015. And in a most heinous and troubling example, the sheriff’s deputy in Houston was killed in cold blood from behind.

While all in the line of duty deaths are tragic, the execution-style of the sheriff’s deputy symbolizes a potential shift in both the tenor and boundaries of how a society relates to those sworn to protect them. A strong and successful society can only exist when a balance of both respect and accountability is extended to both parties. My concern, however, is we are witnessing a potential tipping of the scales.

A successful society is one where a diverse group of people is working together towards achieving a broad goal. And in our modern civilized society, the larger base of citizens extends authority to a smaller designated group to serve, protect, and enforce the rule of law. And in order for this arrangement to work, the elements of both respect and accountability must be in place.

I’m not naive enough to think all is perfect with this arrangement. But I do trust in the people behind the systems in place to successfully identify and root out problems, hold those accountable, and extend justice. And it is just these very tools that allow our society to successfully function.

Like many of you, we know many of those behind the uniform. They are good people and hold the same solid values of the society they are sworn to protect. I also recognize it takes a very special person to make the sacrifices they make in the name of service to others. And for that, I will always offer my highest level of respect.

My hope is that recent events may actually raise a level of awareness of how special these individuals are the critical  role they play in a civilized society.

-30-