The year was 1988. I had already served 6 years with the military and was a sophomore at The Ohio State University. I visited the student counseling center. I described to the counselor my feelings of desperation and of being overwhelmed: full-time classes, full-time employment at Roche Biomedical Laboratories, Army R.O.T.C., and an Army National Guard member. The Counselor, Mr. B., listened intently, then said, “You should go buy some weed, and get high.” I sat quietly stunned for a moment, then said, “I can’t do that, I’m becoming an officer in the Army and I don’t do drugs.” To this he responded, “Then go get drunk.”
Mr. B., was trying to tell me to go and have some fun and to relax, but did so in a fairly incoherent way. Instead of healthy tools or solutions, he simply offered a band-aid. The message, though, stuck with me through the years as I failed (often) to follow the spirit of his message. Some twenty years after that counseling session, I flew from Columbus, Ohio to Key West, Florida. It was a cold January day as my flight left the Capital City and carried me to the land of sea, sun, and sand.
One day, as I walked along the beach, I came upon a guy quietly watching the waves. We had a conversation that would forever impact the way I looked at my own life. He wore Khaki shorts, a loose t-shirt, a Panama Jack hat, and old worn-out flip-flops upon his feet. He told me he lived in a small bungalow on one of the Keys, and he owned a small internet company. He spoke of the peace he had found in his simple life, and how he had walked away from the stress of corporate work. What struck me most was how calm and relaxed he was. We talked for a while, then I wished him well, and continued on my way along the beach.
Later, as I sat having a burger on Duval street, I thought a great deal about his words. I thought about my own life and what had occurred in my drive to be successful. I reminisced about having become an Army Sergeant, then an Officer, and the challenges of earning an education. And I thought about the stress, and the heartache experienced in making far too many poor decisions in my life. I considered how I had been determined to be the director of a drug treatment or a mental health agency. I had made it to supervisor in two different organizations, but supervisor was not the top of the heap. Standing in the sand that day, however, shook my thinking and my values.
I slowly came to decide, that while I would continue to seek success, how that success was defined would change. I started my private counseling practice and I became a college instructor. I took off the tie and the dress shoes. I stepped out of the rat race and the desire to be a director of any organization. I simply wanted to help people improve their lives as I improved my own.
Through the years, I have listened to the pain and confusion of those with broken marriages, and the stories of those fighting a devastating addiction. I have sat with men, women, and teens facing depression, anxiety, loneliness, shame, and the lingering pain of having been abused. I’ve tried to impart what I’ve learned in school and in life to help them turn their lives around. And in my own life, when I have a responsibility or goal before me, I work hard to be successful, but I quickly return to my flip-flops.
I remain ever cognizant of what is most valuable in life: moments and memories, and living an honorable life. And that attitude drives our journey, one direction or another. At the end of our individual stories, we each will look back and see the good and the bad, and how we spent our time. I hope to be able to look back and see the lessons learned from formal education, life, foolish decisions, and the joy of grand adventures. And when my story comes to an end, I hope that I will have given more than I've taken, and I pray that my name is spoken of in positive ways. But most of all, I know that I started to figure it out, one sunny day in the Florida Keys. Brian.
How we manage our life is extremely important for mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health:
~ Practice a Faith ✝️
~ Live an honorable life
~ Work 51% and rest/recreation 49% of your time
~ Understand that life is painful for everyone, peace may come when you come to terms with your own pain
~ Understand that you cannot grow and blame at the same time
~ What is most important in life is cherished moments and memories, not stuff
~ All you have is today, honor it by how you live and how you love, one day at a time
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