Recently I celebrated a significant birthday. It bothered me for a few weeks leading up to the date. I ruminated over the fact that so much of my life has passed by and, in my view, there were precious few years ahead to achieve those outstanding items on my “to do” list. It’s not a huge list and it’s certainly not a bucket list. I never had the time to think about a bucket list and, to be honest, I’d be afraid of being desperately disappointed in not getting to them all.
As the birthday arrived and we travelled to meet with family members and old friends I did a little bit of stock taking, and took the occasion to muse on my life as it stands today.
I explained it to the attending celebrants. I am indeed a lucky man, I have the pleasure of a life in 4 acts. Act 1: Business, Act 2: Public, Act 3: Community and Act 4: Family.
My business life has led me down many trails. And, save a few shallow spots, I have had a delightful time. My dad got me started on the right footing before I even got to my teen years. He hired me to help him in his part-time job refurbishing connecting rods for engines. For my part, I recieved 1 cent for every piece I processed. I worked two or three evenings a week and Saturday mornings and I did that until I was about 16. I must give him credit, I did get a raise to 2 cents and partnership (worth $60 a month) when I got to 14. Time with my dad turned out to be a good grounding in keeping commitments, developing a work ethic, managing money (even little bits) and enjoying small rewards (going to the movies on a Saturday afternoon). Stints in radio, advertising and marketing, including broadcast production, media buying, client representation, creative group and finally vp and president followed. Today, I work sorta part time, i.e. I’m paid for part time but a lot of days I work like full time. I’m working with young entrepreneurs in and outside of our business incubator, and how fun is that. Sharing what I’ve learned to try help young businesses by providing a program of advice and mentoring. What a fine way to end a business career. Act 1 will complete somewhere down the road.
I have a public life. I start each day (rising at 4.30 am) to prepare a two hour show on our local community radio station (www.canoefm.com) and I do that Monday thru Friday, 7 to 9 am. I call that my hobby time. After 9 am I start my “real” life. I have the pleasure of being in our Summer Festival theatre (I have a delightful part in Arsenic and Old Lace this summer), our Highlands Little Theatre and I have given speeches and acted as MC at numerous community activities including, for the past number of years, our Chamber of Commerce Awards night. All of these have given me so much joy over more recent years. This public life continues for a while yet.
Community life has been a part of my make up for decades. My first taste of community life was when, as a young man in my early 20’s I went to the middle east to attend a world youth conference as a Canadian delegate and a representative of the Hamilton YMCA. When I returned I spoke to many groups about my learning and my experiences in Egypt, Lebanon and the holy lands of Jordan. Shortly after my return I was invited to be a member of the YMCA board. That was the start. I won’t bore you with the list of organizations that I have volunteered with. I can tell you that I gave my very best to each undertaking, and in return I met amazing people, saw lives changed or impacted positively, and I learned that I had much to be thankful for. A few years back I was pleased to be nominated and receive a Queen’s Jubilee medal for my efforts. Today, I still volunteer and the rewards continue to be the same. I’ve realize that in so many of the things we do, when we do it “All Together” we are “Stronger”. I have made this a theme for the next part of my story. This act continues.
The most precious of all 4 acts is family life. As I watch our children’s lives go forward, and their children grow and develop, I am filled with a love that can never be put into words. So I won’t try. Those of you with kids and grand kids will understand. My dear wife, who brings such joy and love to our life, and keeps me reasonably grounded, gives meaning to each of my days. My old friends make every moment that we are together a reminder for me that friendships are the golden thread in a good story. This act evolves, sometimes with great joy and sometimes with great sadness, because that’s how life is. This act, the most important of all, plays out still, with laughter, frowns, chuckles, worry and hearts full of love.
So, we had the birthday and I feel much better because I have a somewhat clearer view and a better understanding of why I am fortunate and why I should give thanks every day I wake up. Even better, now I can follow the four acts and see how this plays out. I hope it ends in a really good laugh, before the story comes to its eventual conclusion.