• Joe

My hero spent last weekend with me. You know my hero by now.

I picked John up Friday afternoon so we could have dinner together. He had a little more bounce in his step as he grabbed his duffle bag with his clothes for the weekend. His smile resonated with me as he charged out the door and marched towards the car.

“Do you have your iPad?” I called to him. He stopped in his tracks and turned with his smile.

“Yes.” And so, the weekend could officially begin.

The short five-minute drive to my apartment was accompanied by the continuous news about a man, a black man, that was killed by a rogue, white, police officer while three others just stood by and watched. So disgusting. So terrible. So sad. There is obviously so much more that needs to be addressed to improve race relations in our country and it really is taking way too long. I hung on the words blaring through the radio of there needing to be a conversation. “A conversation?” I thought. It seems like all we have is conversations. I shook my head thinking of the never-ending “conversations” and so-called “strategies” and the lack of actual “doing”. I felt the tension build inside me as I peeked in the rear-view mirror. John was smiling as he stared out the window. Watching the world go by but not really understanding how the world was going by. We parked in the garage, he grabbed his duffle bag and led me to the elevator. His smile resonated with me as we waited to go upstairs.

“Are we going to have fun this weekend?” I asked as the door opened and he darted inside.

“Yes.” And the door closed to take us up to our pizza party dinner.

This weekend was going to be our first fishing trip of the year. We made it to a great spot that I was sure was going to yield all the excitement John would be able to handle. Three and a half hours later I was down to my last worm with no fish to show for it. John helps me by holding the rod as I bait the hook. I tried to sound as positive as I could that this would be the lucky worm. He really didn’t seem to mind anyway as his eyes were fixed on a pair of butterflies that were dancing nearby. My expert baiting skilled were highlighted the awkward way I fumbled with the worm which soon slipped from my fingers. I thanked the fishing gods that it didn’t fall in the water and hastily bent over to pick it up. What might have been the sound of a spring breeze through the trees was most likely those same fishing gods laughing as my glasses, ever so secure on the top of my head, fell off into the lake and sank as slowly as Jack Dawson from Titanic. My internal tension built as I turned to look at John. His smile resonated with me and I took that as the sign that it was time to admit defeat and go.

“Did you have fun fishing today?” I asked as we made the trek back to the car.

“Yes.” And we loaded everything into the trunk and headed home.

Deviled eggs are an all-time favorite. Easy to make and damn tasty to eat. But the eggs do take a bit of time to hard boil. So, while waiting, John relaxed with his iPad and I opened a beer to catch up on the news. Visions of riots and looting dominated the airwaves. Innocent people being attacked. Small, family-owned, businesses being destroyed. Genuine protests seeking progress being drowned out and overtaken by criminals seeking anarchy. I felt my tension build yet again, and my frustration grow, at the horrible sights on every channel I turned to. So much destruction. So much anger. So much hatred. I looked over at John who was captivated with touring the earth on Google Maps. His smile resonated with me as I realized that he really doesn’t understand hatred. He doesn’t understand race. He just lives in this world and he is happy with it.

“Do you know what kind of eggs we are having tonight?” I asked as I got up to start peeling.

“Yes.” The typical one-word answer but I wanted more this time.

“But what kind though?”

“Debilled.” And I was more than ok with having debilled eggs too.

I dropped John off on Sunday night. He still has school for a couple more weeks and is doing his best with virtual learning. I walked him in and said hello to everyone. As I caught up with his mom, John opened his duffle bag, took his iPad and charger, and started to go upstairs. I felt a sense of harsh reality at how fast the weekend flew by. With hardly any words he, as usual, had an impact on me and I can only hope I had an impact on him. I called to him as he was halfway upstairs. He stopped and turned. His smile resonated with me as I asked him the only question that I needed to get an answer to at that moment.

“Did you have a good weekend?” I waited, and hoped, for the typical one-word answer.

“Yes.” And his smile stuck with me as he disappeared into his room.

I can’t wait to see John’s smile again.

I can’t wait till we are all smiling again.

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  • Joe

Just when I think I have all the answers..........

Last week we kicked around the concept of the only thing we truly own.

I hope you had a chance to reflect on time. Your time. How you spend it. How you use it. How you appreciate it.

I certainly did. Since last week my diet was a little better. I exercised a little more. I tried to communicate a little more effectively. I was controlling my time. Just like I advised.

But then my phone rang. It was Mom. And she had something to say.

She said last week’s blog made her think.

“Good”, I replied. “That’s the whole point of it”.

She told me about how she is trying to keep busy nowadays. Making new recipes. Working in the garden. Walking on the treadmill. Staying in touch with her sisters every day.

I felt damn good as I thought about the impact my wisdom had made on her. I’m a pretty smart and insightful guy.

And then she brought me back to earth.

She disagreed that she had full control over her time.


She told me that when she read the blog, she thought she didn’t own all of her time. Her thoughts went to the times that she wished she had back. The times she spent being a mom to two little boys.

Two little boys playing stickball in the street in front of a Staten Island duplex.

Two little boys making a mess of the basement and ignoring the calls for dinner.

Two little boys trading the beef for the vegetables in the stew that she made……much to the dismay of their father.

Two little boys fighting as two little boys are supposed to do. And then laughing and playing ten minutes later.

Two little boys who are now all grown up and no longer there.

She told me that if she truly owned her time she would love to go back to those days. To be able to re-live that time once more. But she can’t.

I tried to come up with a reasonable defense. “But that just goes to show that you did make the best use of that time. The point is to always make sure you remember that before your time is in the past.”

She wasn’t buying it. And now I wasn’t sure I was either.

Last week I made sure to check the definition of what it meant to own something. If we owned our time that means we have control over our time.

You would think Mr. Brilliant here would take a moment to check the definition of the only thing that we truly owned. Of course, I didn’t.

So, I googled and there it was.

Time - The indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole

Now I was the one who was thinking. If time is represented by the past and future too, then we don’t have full control. (If you happen to have a flux capacitor, I’d like to borrow it)

So now what. We can’t go back to re-live or change the past. And we can try to plan and prepare for the future, but I know of a little virus who would say that your plans and preparations will only go so far.

If I don’t own time, then what do I truly own?

But maybe what I told my Mom was right. Maybe what I own is not time but whether I make the best use of time.

I can’t change the past. It’s done. But I can certainly learn from it. I can certainly enjoy the memories I have from it. I can certainly teach others based on the experiences, good or bad, I gained from it.

I can’t change the future. Whatever it will be, it’s coming. But I can certainly plan as best as I can for it. And I can certainly respond to the many surprises it will have for me, good or bad, as best as I can.

And like I told Mom, I can maximize the present before this time becomes another part of the past.

My fingers type away.

Thanks, Mom.

Until Next Time..........

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  • Joe

What do you own?

I mean truly own.

That’s a nice house you have. You really take such good care of it. I know, wouldn’t it be nice if it would stay just like this? Something is always breaking. Well, whenever you decide to sell it, the new owners will love it. Oh, I didn’t know the basement flooded last year. Sorry about that. Some things are just out of our control.

How’s the family? The kids got so big. That’s funny, my kids didn’t want to follow in my footsteps either. I didn’t know she’s moving out already. Wow. That went fast. When you moved here, she was still in a stroller. Well, that’s the way it’s supposed to be, I guess. Only so much we can do and then it’s up to them to live their life.

Did you see that presentation on the future of business and those damn robots basically doing everything? It’s amazing. Hey, you didn’t tell me that your department is looking into that too! That’s a lot of people impacted. What does that mean for you? Don’t worry, you’ve had a great career.

I know, I haven’t looked at my account statement either. I refuse. I hate being at the mercy of all these forces that I can’t do anything about. Yeah, I think I am still ok and well balanced, but it still freaks me out to think I have lost so much, and I didn’t do anything wrong.

Oh, wow! That must’ve been scary. You eat so well, and I always see you at the gym. Did you have any family history of that? I hate how these things happen for no reason. I’m so glad you caught it early. I guess an annual scan is a minor inconvenience to make sure that everything stays ok.

What do you own?

One definition describes owning something as having control over something.

What do you have total, everlasting control over?

It's not your home. Or your family. Or your relationships. Or your career. Or your wealth. Or your health.

There’s only one thing.

Your time.

Think about it. Everything else can be, or eventually, will be taken away from you.

Forces can try to impact or take away your time but ultimately, you choose how your time is spent.

So, what are you doing with this one thing that is yours and yours alone?

I had a chance to watch an interesting interview with Robert Greene, a New York Times best-selling author and speaker.

He spoke about the two types of time that we have: Alive time and Dead time.

Dead time is when you just sit around, when you wait until things happen to you. Alive time is when you are in control, when you make every second count, when you are learning and improving and growing and living.

What an appropriate concept. I won’t get into how I spent much of my day yesterday.

There is so much in life that is out of our control and 2020 has given that a whole new meaning. But we always have control over how we respond. Fast forward to when this surreal period in history is over. How will you describe it to someone? OK, sure, it totally sucked………but.

You will either have no “but” or you will stand up, puff your chest out a little and with a smile say. “But I………”

So now, it’s up to you to complete that sentence. What will you do with the one and only thing that you truly own?

Start that book.

Propose your idea.

Learn a new language.

Pick up that guitar.

Plant that garden.

Start that diet.

Train for that marathon.

Make that call.

Tell someone you love them.

Tell someone you’re sorry.

And you know, one of the most wonderful things about time is that it never judges you on what you do with it. It will always be there for you. Every day that you open your eyes, there it is. Patiently waiting for you to wake up.

Giving you another chance to be alive.

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