I am finding it tough to focus. Do you ever have this issue? Of course, you do!
One of the worst things I do when I can’t focus is to distract myself with social media disguised as ‘building my brand’ online. Ha! Good one, Steve!
In truth, I scroll through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter looking for content ideas (at first). Eventually, I end up watching videos or reading articles posted by friends or people I follow.
Today, I ended up doing something I’ve been avoiding – visiting my late dad’s page on Facebook. That’s the strange thing about the technological world we currently live in. When someone passes away, their online identity stays intake – like a digital ghost left behind.
I started looking through some of his pictures and thought, “Damn, I miss him!”
Sure, our relationship was complicated… as many father-son relationships are. I loved him very much but we struggled to communicate. He was a very proud and very private man. He was strong but also hid a vulnerable side. Being a police officer, he compartmentalized his life, often in an attempt to protect us… and to protect himself. As I thought about how much I missed him I started to get really sad.
But the thing is, I don’t always want to be sad when I think of him. I don’t want to feel that lump in my throat every time I look at a picture of him smiling, of him holding his grandchildren, or think about how my kids will never get to know him the way I did. So, in an attempt to change how I react when I think of him, I’m going to work on restructuring how I think about things when I think of him. My dad always wanted the best for his kids – so what better way to honor his memory than to use it as motivation for improving my life.
My plan is to use my father’s memory as a reminder to do the things I want to do in life. To allow him to motivate me to not waste time, energy, or effort on things that don’t matter. Whenever I want to quit, to slack off, to take a shortcut, or to throw in the towel… I’m going to think of him. I’m going to look at his picture and remember all the things he did in his lifetime and all the things he still wanted to do. He did not want to die. He wasn’t ready to say goodbye. He told me so.
One of the hardest parts of the last few months with him (one of many) was seeing the desperation in his eyes. Seeing him desperately wanting to slow down time and stay with his family as long as he could. My father always preached to me the importance of saving money, of having good credit, and of working hard to make sure you could support your family financially. He worked a lot when I was younger. Besides being a police officer, he worked construction on the side, did odd jobs for people and in the winter he plowed driveways for extra money. He traded much of his time for money in an attempt to create security – for himself and us. But in the end, the one thing he wanted more than anything was more time.
What I now understand is, the most valuable thing we will ever be given is not money… it’s time! It’s the one thing you can never earn more of no matter how hard you try. No amount of sweat, determination, sacrifice, talent, grit, or hustle will ever earn you more time. So, spend it wisely – when it’s gone it’s gone.
The thing is, just because someone is gone does not mean you no longer have a relationship with that person. Sure, it changes the interactions dramatically, but I am still very much learning from my father. He is still motivating me, pushing me, and inspiring me to be the best version of myself I can be. I may never get another hug or another slap on the back. I’ll never hear him tell me he’s proud of me or that he loves me. But I can keep working to make him proud through how I live my life. And I can keep his love alive by loving my children the way he loved his and by teaching them the way he is still teaching me.