It was August 2007 and my wife and I were eating dinner in the kitchen when her mother came out of her bedroom – we moved in with Lisa’s mother four years prior to help her battle cancer. She let me know that I mailed the check for her credit card late and there is now a $15 late fee. It ended up being a pretty big deal in the house. Even Lisa let me know she wasn’t happy.
I put myself back in that memory and I struggle to make sense of the tension that night. I find myself reliving the moment, but altering the conversation, “Deena, Lisa, don’t worry about $15, even though neither of you feel sick, in less than 9 months you’ll both be taken away from this family. Let’s focus on each other and enjoy our time together.” Lisa’s mother lost her battle with colon cancer April 2008, my wife passed from breast cancer in July of that same year.
With all the apps out there that will even tell us what to wear. Isn’t there one that shows upcoming bills and says “A reminder to remit this month’s credit card payment. Please note, this is your 12 month warning your life is ending, adjust your priorities accordingly.”
Because that is the only way I am not going to put over importance to the world of $15 late fees. I would love to think that I can go through life enjoying it more, knowing our time here is short. Looking back on how mad everyone was over $15, and now two of the three people in that conversation are dead, burns me up. But I know I never would've said that night, “Come on, this tension is silly. I'll miss both of you, if for some strange reason, you both were to die next year. Let’s play cards.”
It frustrates me to walk around trying to be idealistic in a non idealistic world. I see things that are trivial all the time. While I understand there are bigger issues to worry about, I also understand that trivial issues will always be legitimate. I find myself having a debate with myself when I see one of them come up:
“This is like the tenth car commercial I’ve seen today. Do we really put that much of our identity into the car we drive? We focus too much on stupid crap and miss out on thoughts for deeper meaning.”
“Matt, you know better, new cars are important. Buying one doesn’t mean you do not understand the true meaning of life. Stop this nonsense.”
“No, I don’t care. I want to see commercials that focus less on external importance and more for internal growth.”
“You know that’s not going to happen, so quit causing trouble. You start acting like this and you’ll lose friends.”
So, it goes on and on and I continue my life. Finding the right balance of understanding the small issues people choose to make high priority and not understanding getting upset over stupid topics like a $15 late fee. But I have to be careful, as I see ridiculous issues every day, and if I let it get to me, will eat me up. It’s a free world and people have a right to put the focus anywhere they want. Heck, sports are a place for many of the non important issues I see. Yet, I like sports as much as the next person, nothing wrong with following games for enjoyment.
As a matter of fact, I can’t believe that football has already their started summer camps. I saw Jay Cutler from the Chicago Bears excited about his new receivers – I share that excitement. I remember how happy I was when Cutler was traded from Denver. That was crazy how that all blew up. The owner of the Broncos wrote a letter to his season ticket holders trying to quell the storm over getting rid of a Pro Bowl quarterback.
I remember reading about how angry the fans were in Denver. One fan wrote to the paper, “What do I tell my kids? We don't have a quarterback; we don't have a defense. His letter to us season ticket holders does nothing to ease my mind."
Wait, did he just say, what do I tell my kids? I can totally relate to what this guy is going through. As a matter of fact, I had to have almost the same conversation of, "what do I tell my kids" a few years ago. The only small difference was, mine was telling them that their mother had…. (deep breath) “I will not let this eat me up, I will not let this eat me up, I will not…..”