If Tomorrow Never Comes
I have always been fascinated with books that detail peoples’ perspectives on life in general, or the philosophies that develop because of the circumstances they found themselves in. Lately, I was reading a book written by a woman who lost her father suddenly when she was only 4 ½ years old. I was surprised to read about the influence her father had on her, and the things she remembered of him, being less than 5 at the time of his death. She comments that her father never left her any words, or a letter of how he felt, or how she should go on without him there, yet she was influenced by him by the way he lived his life. It got me thinking that if I was to leave this world suddenly, what would my daughter remember of me? What influence would I have had on her, and what she would miss most about me? It also got me thinking that one of the reasons I began this blog, even though I have neglected to write in it lately, was so that my daughter could go back and read my thoughts, or memories that I had throughout my life if she so desired.
Inspired by Garth Brooks’ song “If Tomorrow Never Comes”, I decided that I write a short blog to my daughter Madex, so that she could look back on it one day if something was to ever happen to me. Or perhaps she may find it interesting to read when she’s older and curious to what her dad was thinking in 2022.
My dearest Madex:
My sweet and most precious child. There are many things I call you these days; Mad Max, Honeybear, sweat pea, peanut, Miss Moop, princess, sweetheart, pumpkin, and beautiful to name a few. You are, and always will be, the greatest gift ever given to me, and there is nothing I would not do for you, if it meant making your day, year, or life a little better. Some things I choose not to do for you, only because I believe there is something of greater value you will receive or learn by doing it yourself. There are not many of these things right now, but I am certain there will be many as you continue to grow older.
I want you to know how much I love you, and that you are my world. You are the reason I wake up in the morning and try to live my best life possible. I do this because I want you to do the same. I want you to live, I want you to love. Whatever that may be, I want you to embrace the life you have been given and challenge yourself to discover and learn new things. Do not be afraid to try something that interests you, or because you fear the outcome. There are good decisions and bad decisions, ones that cause very little shadow of doubt. Thinks like robbing a bank. It is true that a decision like robbing a bank will produce nothing good 99.999% of the time. I have always lived life knowing that there are NO absolutes, which is why there is always that extremely slight margin of error that would allow for an alternative outcome. Remember to treat all these decisions as right or wrong, good or bad, they are the easy ones to make, and it is our job as parents to teach you this. Then however, are all those decisions in between, the ones that are neither good nor bad but will shape your life through the experiences they provide. These can be difficult ones to make. Just remember, that all decisions will have consequences that you will have to live with; some large, some small. Remember this when making your decision as there will come a time when we cannot, or will not, make them for you. Follow your instinct, as it will be your best guide in making the right choice. You are responsible for your life, not anyone else, so do not let others make your decision for you, nor should you blame anyone for the outcomes of decisions that were inherently yours. Do not be a victim to pressure, but instead, stare directly at it when stating your decision. There are things in life that you can control, and things you cannot. Do not worry about things you cannot control; they will happen regardless of the amount you worry. Worrying will only bring you more worry and uncertainty; a poison that causes paralysis. Give thought to those things you can control because that will help in the process of making those difficult decisions. Either way, a decision will have to be made. Not deciding, is a decision, and will also have consequences. When you find yourself struggling, trust your instinct as the universe has its way of pointing you in the right direction, we just have to listen. Remember that if you do not have a plan for yourself, someone else does.
You are strong willed, independent, and unique. Learn to filter through opinions. Always listen to, but not adhere to, the opinions of others. Take each opinion for what they are worth, valued on the experience and knowledge of their source. Learn to use what is useful, reject what is not, and form your own opinion that is built upon understanding. Seek truth. Nothing is greater than your authenticity and integrity – do not sacrifice this for anyone.
Always be respectful. Your mother and I are doing our best to raise you as a polite and respectful woman. Know the importance of being respectful and treating others the way you would want to be treated. There is no need to belittle people, nor is there a need to make fun of anyone, even if it is in good humor. Everyone has their own stories and struggles, and you may not know them. Strive to build people up, but also be aware of when people are trying to tear you down. They do so because of their own insecurities, and you are too strong to allow that to burden you. Set it down, but do not allow yourself to be walked on. Do not be afraid to stand up for yourself and for your beliefs. Know that wise people talk because they have something to say, and fools talk because they have to say something. First become a good listener; then become a good speaker.
Take time Madex to do those things that are truly important in life. Always ask yourself what that is and what that means to you. It can change. Prioritize them in order of importance so that it helps guide you when making decisions. If making money is truly important to you and it is the top of your priority, then do those things to make more of it. If it lies above friendship, then you may find that you will sacrifice a friendship to make money. If friendship is above money, you will never sacrifice a friendship. I like to think we raised you mirroring our values but that does not mean that yours will be identical. Where does family sit on this list? Where does love? What about loyalty, career, travel, exercise, health, or longevity? The list will be long, and like water, should be fluid. Your list can change and adapt as you discover new truths. Some things you will find, remain constant, and that is also okay. In fact, that is preferred. This is how your list of priorities; your list of values will help guide your decision-making process and ultimately create your identity. Add and subtract things to your list. Move them up and down and discover what makes you happiest. I can tell you what makes me happy and what has made others happy, but you need to discover this for yourself. My opinion is my opinion, and only that. Be conscious of when you move, add, or delete values because these changes are shaping you. Know who you want to be and what it means to be you, because at the end of your path, this is how you will measure your life, and what you will be judged on. Having said that, do not concern yourself with others’ judgement of you. Do not seek approval, it does not matter in the end. We all move on from this world and if I am being brutally honest with myself and you, a short period after we are gone, we are forgotten. Yes, of course we remember our parents, friends etc., and I certainly hope you remember me. What I am trying to say is that you will get old and leave this world as well, and I would be very lucky if your children, if you have any, would remember me well. Their children, will certainly not. In reality, the window for being remembered is very small. Even the most influential people in this world are forgotten shortly after. In fact, the people who did evil things are usually remembered for far longer than those that did good, as ironic as that is.
Therefor, it comes down to how you lived while you lived, and it matters really to no one, other than yourself and those you affect in that moment. Most people my dear are just trying to leave something behind. Whether that be a book, company, garden, child, art, or park bench on a hill, we all strive to be remembered. Unfortunately, you will not be remembered as much as what you did. So do something; live your best life and enjoy all of it. Do the things that make you happiest, and never apologize for being happy. Those that understand this will be happy for you, and you will be for them. Those that do not, will not, and that is okay as they are walking their own path and you might not be part of it. You will find that giving, contribution, loving, helping, and sharing will provide more gratitude and joy than any amount of money can provide, but do not take my word on it, discover this for yourself. I have found more joy and happiness in a foreign land having a cup of coffee with your mom than I have found anywhere else. Playing cards with your grandfather, enjoying a movie with an old friend, drinking a beer on a back porch with a good friend, and playing in the pool with you, has brought me more joy than anything money has ever brought me. I would trade all the money in the world to give me more time to do these things. They say having money allows you to do these things, but I continuously see people neglect these things to achieve more money. I suggest finding the balance, but will reiterate, do not take my word for it, but discover it for yourself.
Lastly, I want to summarize for you that all of this comes down to a single verb – action. How you act showcases where your values/priorities lay on your list. And please remember, that taking no action, making no decision, is an action and speaks volumes about one’s priorities and values as well. Do not be afraid to act, and do not be afraid to make a mistake. Mistakes will shape you, and many times, more so than not making one. These actions will create your identity, and you are the creator. So be creative, be unique, but be aware as the more rooted your identity becomes, the more difficult it is to change. Actions state beliefs, and the more you state your belief, the stronger it becomes and the harder it is to reshape. Knowing this, try to remain supple and be open to change and discoveries. You will grow far more this way, than you will by remaining stiff and rooted.
I love you and want nothing more in this world than to see you happy. Create happiness in your life Madex and choose to be happy. No matter where I am in this life or next, nothing would bring me more satisfaction. My love for you will forever by constant, and if I have my way, I will be there beside you, long after I am gone. A proud father watching over what he left behind. A beautiful, respectful little girl who is living her best life.
Love Always, Dad