Tuesday Morning, May 6, 2008: A man is getting himself ready for work. Everything seems customary. He saw his kids off to school, kisses his wife, probably got some breakfast, etc. But today something is a little different. Just when he is about to leave, he says to his wife how he doesn't feel too well. He lays down in bed, and never wakes up again...
That's basically how it happened for one of my coworkers (but I didn't work with him directly). At 42 years old, God removed him from this earth in an instant from a massive heart attack, leaving behind a grieving wife, two young sons, and a host of relatives, friends, and coworkers. Today was the daunting task of paying our last respects to the man. I sat in one of the 5 pews in the church where his coworkers sat. No, I didn't cry, because I didn't know him that well. But in my few encounters with him, I also saw him in a good mood. As some of my other coworkers who really knew him described him, he was a "gentle giant." Picture a black man that is about 6'4" or 6'5" and weighed about 260 lbs, yet always smiled and was well loved and respected to all that came in contact with him. In my year or so of working at my current job, I have NEVER heard anyone say ANYTHING bad about the man (cause people can spread some serious gossip about somebody at work!). He also was a very well-known party promoter in Jersey City (where he lived all his life). That says something about someone's character in that noone found any faults with him, no matter what field of work he was involved in.
As I listened to the funeral service and observed my coworker in the coffin, many thoughts went through my head. I started seeing family members and friends in the coffin, and yes, even pictured myself lying in there. (Hell, it could've been any of us in there.) It made me wonder about the things in my life that I needed to change/clean up before that fateful day that God decides that it's my time to depart this life as well, because life is VERY short! With all this being said, I made a pact with myself to follow through with the following things:
1. I will not worry myself over anything I have no control over. My job is tops. While I am enjoying the benefits of having a permanent job again after a 2 year layoff, I also know that I could be back in the same position I was before: back to a temp job or, worse, back to the unemployment office. That's just the way the job market is now; you can have a job today, the next day you're laid off. It's out of your control. Whatever will be will be. Why be stressed and discouraged over it? Everything happens for a reason.
2. I will strengthen myself physically, mentally, socially, and professionally. When I was younger, I could care less about exercising or eating right. Shit, I'm a slim dude; I need all the weight I can get! Now that I'm a little older, I realize that I can't just put whatever the fuck I want into my body and not expect it to catch up to me later on. Now I am making a conscious effort to eat better and incorporate some sort of exercise regimen (right now it's mainly push ups and sit ups). I will also strengthen myself by reading more books, watching shows dealing with politics and debates (which I'm still very much a novice at), participating more in discussions (instead of being the usual mute), and work on getting some type of certification for the work that I do (it makes me more marketable when the time comes that I have to change jobs).
3. I will still treat everybody the way I want to be treated, but I will not be concerned now if they are mad at me, not speaking to me, etc. That may sound a little selfish, but if I'm striving to be the best person I can be, I cannot be bogged down with who's mad at me or who's not speaking to me. It's petty bullshit. For most of my life I think I've been too concerned with what others thought of me. No more! I will still do the honorable thing and apologize if I said/did something wrong. But if they're mad after that point, they will get over it. And if they don't, that's their problem. I will still lay my head down at night and get my full 8 hours of sleep. No shade. My life must go on.
4. I will speak up and say what's on my mind more often. This is a hard one for me because I've always had difficulty getting my point across. I also have a problem holding things inside of me for months, even years, which lead to problems later on. But as I watched my coworker's wife and 2 sons place a flower on his casket, my mind immediately went back to September, 1987, when I (as a 9-year-old) did the same thing to my father's casket, and how tears ran down my face as I realized that, not only was I never going to see him again, but there was so much that I didn't get a chance to say to him. Sometimes I think about that and it tears me up that there wasn't closure, but now I realize that I must not let that happen again.
5. I will (re)disccover what my God-given talent is and use it to the best of my ability. When I was a kid, my mother put me in tap dancing class, and I continued the hobby for 8 years. Everybody was calling me the next Gregory Hines (it also helped that we have the same first name). But I stopped after the passing of my mother. At the time, it was too much for me to go on doing it without her. Every now and then I wonder what would've happened had I continued to tap dance. It could've lead to so many doors being opened that I couldn't possibly imagine. Now I ask myself what my talent is. Is it writing? Computers? I know it's there somewhere. I just have to tap into it and, most importantly, not waste a lot of time trying to find it. I've gotta do it, and do it now!
I'm sure there are other points I want to make, but my mind is kinda racing right now and my fingers can't keep up. But I managed to get out the bulk of what I was feeling. It's just too bad that it took something like a funeral for me to come to terms with what I really need to do to better my life. But like I said in the first point, don't all things happen for a reason?