21 Years ago this fall my father unexpectedly passed away. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him in some way. I know had he lived longer, the trajectory of my life might have been different. Then again, who knows? He died at a critical time when my life was undergoing seismic shocks and transitions. These issues were out of my control, and the only thing i learned from that experience is that the world grinds on; both for the accomplished and the people who have not fulfilled their God-given potential.
I once asked a long time friend if he thought I’d had a good military career. Since 1992 I have struggled with my time in uniform, and its long term impact on not just my life, but the lives of others.
All he could say was’you could have been better in some areas, but then we all could have’. This caused me to inventory critical missions that went well, and some that were failures. It also made me reflect on my professional behavior during that time. In each category of reflection, I could point to the moments of success and what made them so, and point to the critically bad decisions that made other missions not so successful.
The results of this made me put some things in bold relief. In the instances of my life where my fathers’ example, coaching, and wisdom penetrated my thick skull and took root in my practice of life, things generally turned out pretty well. When I repudiated, forgot, or thought “I knew better than that old guy’, things didn’t work out so well. What I think I missed out on was how to cognitively use the examples and wisdom he possessed so naturally and completely.
Because I am his son, and not him, identifying and putting in to practice on a daily basis his examples of patience, self-discipline, respect for others, keeping self counsel, and consummate faith in God remains and always will be a challenge.
Still out there trying to emulate the ‘Leader of the Band’, 21 years and counting.