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  • Writer's pictureJoe Colaizzo

It’s been a long time since I’ve cried. But I did yesterday.

Someone passed away. It wasn’t family. It wasn’t a friend. It wasn’t an acquaintance. Yet I found myself wiping tears away as I read the stories of his death.

Sure, he was a great musician (one of the greatest), an amazing lyricist, an accomplished author. And I was all choked up. And I was embarrassed. You cry when you lose your family and friends. This was just a member of a rock and roll band. Get a grip, Joe.

I thought of the first time hearing him play. In my cousin’s bedroom on Staten Island when I was twelve years old. Introducing me to this band before joining him for a game of whiffle ball in the street in front of his home. Mastering air drums with me before we rode our bikes to the schoolyard to hustle unsuspecting kids in a game of two-on-two. Allowing me to listen to the album one more time before heading downstairs for pancakes after a sleep-over.

I thought of standing in line to buy tickets to my first show. Fortieth row on the floor and my new girlfriend was coming. She stood on the chair so she could see as I held her legs with one arm and drummed with the other. She encouraged me that my banging on the dashboard every time we would go out was just like the drumming in the songs. She surprised me with tickets for the next tour. She watched patiently as I banged the rail in front of the seats we had.

I thought about convincing myself that a college visit with my oldest son just happened to be in the vicinity of a concert. What a joke. He knew why we were there. And he laughed as I air drummed to perfection in the sixth row. And he ran with me in the rain to try to find the phone he lost. And he has joined me at every concert since.

I thought of introducing my daughter to my guilty pleasure. She had a feeling I was on the edge of groupieness but of course, her college visit was really why we were going to Denver. She laughed as I stood in the aisle, flailing my arms and hands with every song. She danced to songs she didn’t know. She doesn’t know that I’ll never forget the smile when she turned and said, “I know that one!”

I thought of members of my team at work surprising me with a signed poster as a thank you for the years we worked together. They reinforced that those years working with them were the best of my career. They reinforced that work can really be fun. They reinforced that fulfilling work and fulfilling relationships are just that……fulfilling.

I thought of reading his book on rebounding from personal tragedy. He was so depressed, lost…. dead. And he faced it, didn’t hide it, and came back from it. I read that book soon after my son was diagnosed with autism. I was depressed, lost.... dead. I’m facing it, I’m not hiding it, and it has helped me come back.

I thought of all of that and then I knew. This wasn’t just a member of a rock and roll band, a drummer, a guy who didn’t even know I existed. This was someone who unknowingly came along with me during significant points in my life. And I unknowingly was bringing him along. A secret inspiration to connect with others. A secret inspiration to celebrate great times. A secret inspiration to face and rebound from bad times.

Someone passed away. It wasn’t family. It wasn’t a friend. It wasn’t an acquaintance.

It was an inspiration

It’s been a long time since I’ve cried. But I did yesterday.

And I’m not embarrassed about it.

Rest in Peace Professor

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  • Writer's pictureJoe Colaizzo

Steak for Eight!

That was all we needed. Eight friends from long ago who hadn’t all been together in way too many years. And you would’ve thought we all had dinner the night before. A New York steakhouse hosting this group was long overdue, but you know how it is. Whatever the excuse might’ve been it was probably a good one……. probably a bad one.

We shared our stories (some good, some bad), reminisced of those great times long past, and teased each other as good friends do. Yes, it really was long overdue, and we all vowed to do it again soon. Golf in the spring was the decision and the toast made it official. A resolution for all of us as the calendar turns.

Have you made yours? Of course, you’ve at least thought of it by now. Eat better. Exercise more. Read more. Whatever it is, history tells us we won’t live up to our lofty expectations.

I thought of mine. Or at least I thought I did until that night. Strolling the streets of New York City after four hours with a bunch of accountants might cause one to reflect a little. Ok, maybe just me.

So, based on a night where eight reunited friends feasted on a side of beef, I’d like to make the following suggestion for your 2020 resolution:

Go to that park you always used to go to. You know, where you spent all those days and time moved a little slower. The ball fields that you played on. The beach where your family always took you. The woods that you loved to explore. The field where you would walk your dog. You know exactly how to get there. It’s still near the top of your favorite places in the world and you just haven’t been there in a while. It probably looks different now, but the memories are still there, and they’ve been waiting for you to return.

Go to your closet and take out the hobby that you haven’t touched in years. The baseball cards that you organized with such care, and protected so expertly, that a bent corner was unacceptable. The gourmet baking set that helped you create the finest assortment of cookies, cakes, and pies that everyone expected you to bring a creation to every function. The art set that gave you pride as you believed that art is your own expression no matter how it looked when you were finished. The guitar that gave you chills the first time you actually played the opening to Stairway to Heaven. Although you haven’t touched them you most definitely stared at them from time to time. Maybe you actually did touch them (but just for a brief second) before you disengaged for a better option……. a worse option. The only risk is that you lose track of time just like you used to.

Go to the bookstore and head directly to the section you always eventually wind up in anyway. Flip through the thousands of pages detailing the intricacies of the topic you just can’t get enough of. The stories of the bands you followed as a kid and still remember the words to most of their songs. The images of the great war heroes of the past, of the wars that your ancestors fought in. The visions of landscapes and open roads that inspired your passion for traveling. You’ve done this before, and it was a mini escape. And a little escape is just what you’ve been thinking of lately.

Go out to dinner with your friends from long ago. The ones you spent what seemed like every waking moment with, and then lost contact. The drinks, the laughs, the stories, the things you didn’t know. The realization that you really did have many successes along the way and that paved the road to your successes now.

You might relate to more than one of those suggestions. Or your resolution might take you to a time or place or setting much different. But at its core, the resolution is the same.

Go Home.

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  • Writer's pictureJoe Colaizzo

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

For many of you, these last few months of the year are not only filled with the annual anxiety about what gifts Santa will be bringing but maybe even more so about what gifts your boss will be bringing in the form of your year-end appraisal. This really is a wonderful time.

The end result is the same no matter where you work.

A select few will receive a glowing review. You significantly exceeded your goals and the expectations of your boss and the firm. You are the shit and are well on your way to the corner office. Congratulations.

There is also a select few who are not as fortunate. You missed the mark and must do better next year. You are definitely not the shit so let’s put together a performance plan so we can monitor your progress. (Yes, you are documenting everything for better or for worse). Best of luck to you.

And then there is the rest of you. “Nice Job.” “Keep doing what you’re doing.” “It’s all good.” “You’re good.” “Sorry but I have to cut this a little short to get to a holiday lunch.”

This post is for you.

Chances are you might not be that thrilled about that message. You’re average. Middle of the pack. Sure, you don’t suck but you’re also not the shit. You’re just – good.

But really, why are you a little pissed off? What’s wrong with being good? Now, if you did not try your best then that’s one thing and you should be pissed at yourself, but let’s just say for the sake of this post that you honestly put in your best effort all the time. And your best effort was good.

Take a look around at all of your colleagues who are also, most likely, good. I’m sure you will probably see you are in “good” company.

In 2018, the United States population totaled 327.2 million people. Of that there is the often admired and often berated top 1% (3,272,000). There is also the unfortunate 11.8% who live below the poverty line (38,609,000). That leaves a hell of a lot of folks somewhere in the middle.

So, to look at it another way, for 3.3 million people, life is freaking awesome. For 38.6 million people, life is damn hard. And for the rest (285 million), life is for the most part……. good.

So maybe being good is not all that bad after all. The vast majority of us are……. good.

The problem is that we have been conditioned that being good is just not good enough. It really starts from the moment we pop out of the womb when our ever-loving parents tell us that we can do anything we want to do (and we told the same thing to our kids by the way). My mom repeatedly told me I could be anything I wanted to be. But no matter how much I tried and wanted it; I was never going to throw a fastball 95 miles per hour. Thanks anyway mom but I guess you lied. (My phone is going to be ringing soon).

And therefore, the problem with aforementioned problem is that we then constantly compare ourselves to others. He got drafted because his fastball is faster than mine. She got the promotion and I didn’t. They have a nicer house. Their kids go to a fancy school. The neighbor’s grass is greener. Blah, Blah, Blah. That constant comparison blinding us to how good we actually are.

I want to reiterate; you should always do your best and aspire to greatness, and you should encourage others to greatness. Just make sure that your definition of greatness is the greatest version of you. Not someone else’s definition of great. You are not them and they are not you. And you should know that they are also comparing themselves to others (maybe even you) for things they are not great at. You may be a better cook, more artistic, more musical, more athletic, etc., etc. Shit, I’m certainly no Stephen King but I think this little pastime I’ve started is pretty good. And I’m happy with that.

The next time you begin to compare yourself to someone else, I hope after reading this you will first look in the mirror and compare yourself to you. Do your best. Appreciate your best. And you might just appreciate yourself and your life a little more.

And while you are realizing that your average and overall good existence is actually quite great, take a listen to this instrumental, “Fanfare_For_The_Common_Man” by Emerson, Lake and Palmer. They covered the original masterpiece by Aaron Copland. It may not rise to the same legendary level of Mr. Copland’s, but it’s good.

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