As a heavy metal ‘hair-band’ fan, who hit the dreaded teenage years in the eighties, this will seem a surprising series for me to write. I was used to the “shouting at the devil” of Motley Crue; the colored scarves around Steven Tyler’s neck, Jon Bon Jovi’s immaculate (and big) hair…these were things that made sense to me. But as time has gone forward, I have come to love many different types of music. But I heard one song recently that hit me like a brick in the head.
Now, I’ve heard Tim McGraw songs. In fact, these next three blogs are inspired by him. But recently, I heard one that has always been my favorite. “Live Like You Were Dying” hits me square in the heart, and probably not for the same reason it does for other people. Yes, this is a song about a son who sees his father’s x-rays and knows that his Dad’s passage to Heaven is near.
He asks his Father what do you do with that kind of news? For me, I always think of how amazing it would be. You know? To be able to know the moment it will be too late to do what you wanted to do. I used to travel the highways of America with my music blaring and hardly any money in my pocket, just to get to that next town, or meet that next person who had something to say. I’ve lived my life never wanting to turn around and say, “What if?” But, when you get older, and the responsibilities get harder, sometimes your idea of “freedom” is an impossible thing to attain.
Instead, you get even better things - like the love of a child. And you suddenly have a person in your life who makes you want to do everything in your power to get her to see as many sunsets and sunrises in as many places as you’ve already seen them. You want her to sit in that car beside you with the window down, and go through city after city in order to really see the country she was born in. Now, of course, there’s school…there’s a time when you stop and ‘grow roots’ in order for that wonder of your life to have a good, solid beginning.
I’m forty and, hopefully, I’m not done. And I have only said, “What if?” once. When I hear Tim sing about what his Dad did when he knew the end was drawing near, I loved the fact that he didn’t give up. He didn’t sit in a bed and wait for the end to arrive. He went: sky diving, and rocky mountain climbing, and, my favorite, he went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu. He also did what all of us should do on a daily basis. He: loved deeper and spoke sweeter; and did the one thing I haven’t yet been able to do - he gave forgiveness he’d been denying.
With Tim’s song, I can’t think about the end drawing near or the issues that brought his Dad to this place. All I see is the fact that there is a chance to live. And that chance is every day. It’s when you get up in the morning (with a headache or not), and go out to that job (that you might not like), and work solidly, while trying to figure out your finances, get home, cook (if you’re better than I am at it), talk to that beautiful child, put her to sleep with a story and a prayer, and go to bed…hoping to dream.
Dreaming is a wonderful thing…but living is better. Striving for that ultimate moment when you know you’ve done it all. Or, you at least tried. But you don’t have to dream it - you have to do it. Well, as Tim continues on, he finally read the Good Book, and took a good long hard look, at what I'd do if I could do it all again…
I hope no one ever gets there. I hope that, at the end, you’ve done absolutely everything that you wanted to do (and even some things you never dreamed you could do). Tomorrow is a gift. And, what would you do if you had an eternity to think about what you would do tomorrow? My answer - you should get up, break the rules, and just go do it - whatever it might be.
I have been lucky enough to watch the Blue Eagle as it was flyin.’ It was one of the most beautiful, majestic sights in the world, that I wouldn’t give back or change for any amount of money, or even extra time.
The one regret? I didn’t make it in time to say goodbye to my own father. When I finally got to CT from Dallas, he was asleep. I wonder sometimes what he would’ve done differently if he had known that he was nearing the end. Would he have sat back and wondered what could’ve been if he’d chosen another path?
I’m greedy enough to say that I’m glad everything happened the way it happened for Robert Lignor. I’m glad of all the strife, pain, and struggle he had to go through when he was a young man. Why? Simple. It was because of all those things - all those bad and good days - that made him end up to be mine.
But I sure would’ve liked the chance to walk him through the gates of Graceland, or drive him over the Rocky Mountains and see the Budweiser Clydesdales roaming the fields. I would’ve liked to bring him to see the Space Needle in Seattle, or walk beside him into a stadium where we could sit together on the fifty-yard line and watch the Super Bowl play out. He would’ve loved stopping in Nashville and seeing a show at the Grand Ole Opry. And I would’ve loved to have succeeded in my dream before he passed away, so that he could be front and center when it finally happens one of these days. He could be there to walk up the stairs of the New York Public Library between Patience and Fortitude for my very first book signing.
Of course, I can feel that man so strongly by my side - even when he was here in body - that I always felt him in the car as I traveled the United States. That man’s soul is in his granddaughter now, the girl who rode in the passenger seat to all those fun places. So he did experience them all…through her eyes.
Be alive while you are alive. Don’t miss one single solitary moment of it. It goes away too soon, and there is SO much to do! When you dream, dream big! And then go out there the next day and make it all come true.
I think Tim McGraw would agree with me.