Santa Ed (yes, that’s actually me)
Another year has come and gone. Wow! Where did it go? Here it is, December 23, 2011 and I’m experiencing the 66th Christmas holiday season of my life. I think most of us take these things for granted. A year starts, life happens, the Christmas holiday season comes around again, the big crystal ball drops on Times Square in NYC and another year begins. It’s just business as usual.
I don’t see it that way. First, I’m just amazed that I’m still here 66 years after the beginning of my existence in this world. Sure, I’ve experienced the same amount of time on this planet as anyone else who has reached my age. But, allow me to approach this from a slightly different perspective. I’ve noted several times that my most valuable . . . actually, priceless commodity is time. So, to this date, and these numbers are probably about 99.9% accurate, I have enjoyed and been blessed to spend:
. . . on this Earth.
Those numbers astonish me. I doubt that you (and most people) ever look at your life from this point of reference. Even if a person only lives to 33 years of age, he or she becomes a “seconds” billionaire of this priceless commodity - time. I look back and think of all the things I’ve experienced and accomplished from speaking my first words and taking my first steps through all the people who have passed through my life and have each added to and enriched my life in some important way. Then I consider all my professional achievements, each of which has impacted the world in some small way and accordingly left me more fulfilled. When I add the places I’ve traveled to, the foods I’ve enjoyed and the innumerable and varied experiences I’ve been privileged to participate in, the vast majority being wonderful (yes, and some, not so wonderful, perhaps, even painful) but, all enriching my life in some way . . . WOW!
Perhaps this sounds more like a Thanksgiving message, but it’s actually a timeless message. This message can be applied to one’s birthday, a Thanksgiving celebration, a Christmas or other any other kind of religious commemoration and a New Years celebration. This is the kind of reflecting that too many people don’t do until they are old, I mean really old. Not too long ago, 66 was considered old. A few generations before that 45 was considered really old. Our earlier ancestors were lucky to live into their 30’s. But, today, the saying is that 60 is the new 40. Correspondingly, 66 must be the new 46. So, 66, to my mind, is not old at all. However, I have fully acknowledged and accepted that I’m on my way to third base and will soon be heading to home plate. My wish for my life (and everyone else’s) is that we’ll all make it to home plate, slide in, with our bodies tired and worn out from playing an excellent game and scoring the home run.
Unfortunately, some may falter on the way around the bases, being impeded by medical or, perhaps, mental challenges. Others will be tagged out before making it all the way around the bases and having their game end early. No one knows for sure if they’ll make it to home plate. I lost one teammate in my game this past August. I just learned that I lost another teammate last April. They were both tagged out before they even got to third base. I’m sure you’ve lost “team mates,” too. It’s sad, but it’s part of the game.
Here’s the key. It doesn’t matter how much money, material possessions, status, position, education or any other external displays of wealth anyone has, the game is the same for everyone. Steve Jobs, a billionaire in financial terms and certainly in status and position, was tagged out before he made it around to home plate. Actually, he was just getting off second base. I just learned of another man I’ve enjoyed working with, in the theater I did sound design at, who made it around and slid into home plate just a day ago. John did not have the financial wealth, status or position that Steve Jobs had, but he made it all the way around the bases and scored the home run.
I’m not big on celebrating the Christmas holiday season. While some may consider me the Grinch, as you can see from the photo, I can actually be a rather jolly fellow. But, in fact, living free is the greatest gift of all for me. No matter how anyone defines personal freedom for his or her individual life, we are all still part of the game. I choose, after too many years of leading a complicated life in business (some call it the rat race), to live simply and frugally and focus on the two areas of greatest value in my life, my time and my relationships. I find great fulfillment in carefully giving (or possibly tithing) of my time to people and causes I believe in. My belief is that I am giving more value then just doling out money. I do my best to not squander my time. And I am careful to not allow others to waste or abuse it. I treat it as the priceless commodity that it is.
I am also doing my best at placing ever greater value on the relationships I have with people I know from my past, people in my present life and those new relationships with people I haven’t even met, yet. I’m letting you and them know just how much you and they have enriched and fulfilled my life and continue to do so. I hope, as my gift to you and each of them, I have and can continue to enrich and fulfill your life and their lives, at some level . . . at least a little bit.
My wish for you is that you cherish your priceless time and enjoy and gain the most fulfillment from every second. I, personally, have no issue with anyone acquiring significant or even great wealth and abundance. I just hope that those individuals don’t place more value on money and “stuff” while letting their priceless time slip away and missing the opportunities to share their lives with the people most important to them. Go for the home run and slide into the plate battered, worn out and tired. Play a great game of life.
And, finally, thank you for being an important . . . no . . . make that, a priceless part of my life. Have a wonderful and meaningful Christmas, Hanukkah or holiday season, regardless of how you enjoy this time. I also extend my best wishes for a happy, healthy, prosperous (however you define prosperity) and living free 2012.