62 years in less than 1000 words
62 years is a long time in one sense, but it is just an instant when compared to all of history. Rather than getting into semantics about time I thought it might be worth spending time sharing a little about what I have learned in my 62 trips around the sun. Some of you may learn something from this and I suspect it might be what not to do versus what to do more of. Who knows, you might find what I have to say to be meaningful; here goes.
I grew up in a safe place in the midwest called Lincoln, IL. We had a solid house with plenty to eat and clean clothes to wear. I attended a parochial school for elementary and jr. high and a public high school. I played a lot of baseball while growing up and I was one of those kids who grew early and then never got any taller. Luckily for me that initial growth spurt was enough.
My first college experience at the Naval Academy was a short one and I ended up with a BS in Engineering Physics at Murray State University where I also met a wonderful woman who became my wife. I also joined the best college fraternity, Sigma Chi, and have made many friends along the way who have been tremendously supportive.
We have lived on the north side and then the south side of Nashville for almost 40 years and have two married sons with amazing wives and we also have three beautiful grandchildren, brothers Teddy (20 months), William (1 month) and their cousin June (2 weeks).
Enough background; let’s talk about what I have learned:
- It’s not where you start, but where you finish. As I mentioned, my first college experience was a flameout and I ended up at a school I had not visited except when my older brother attended there. I made the best of the situation and I learned that God has a plan and we sometimes don’t understand that plan until later (more about that to come). Attending Murray State allowed me to meet the girl of my dreams, my wife Gena Ryan, who has tolerated me for almost 39 years. MSU also connected me with Sigma Chi, one of the best choices I have ever made.
- Persistence pays off. In 1990 I was one of three crazy volunteers in Springfield, TN who contacted the YMCA in Nashville about building a Y in our community. They were kind, but I think they thought we would go away, but we did not. That idea from 1990 ended up being a new, full-facility YMCA that opened in 1996 and that still serves that community today. We would not take no for an answer and the community has benefited (so too have I) ever since.
- God is always calling. We moved from Springfield, TN to Franklin, TN in 1997. Many people thought we were crazy because we had a very comfortable life in Springfield and I still have many friends there. What we didn’t have was an equally-yoked belief in God for my wife and myself. By moving to Franklin we found a church home at Christ Community Church (C3) where we still belong today and where I serve as an Elder. (me being an Elder shows that God does have a sense of humor…) We knew there was a reason to move to Franklin, but the real reason took years to develop. Now I understand. At least I didn’t have to wander 40 years in the desert.
- Never burn a bridge and be a constant learner. I have had the opportunity to work in the industrial manufacturing world, the non profit world, the professional services world and then be an entrperneur. Each step has allowed me to meet people and learn things that I use today. There are very few instances where I have reached out to someone from an earlier chapter who has been reluctant to help. Having that diverse journey has allowed me to be conversant on a wide range of topics as well.
- Travel when you can, but don’t let it ruin your life. I have been to almost every state in the USA and have also been to Japan, Canada, England, Germany, France, Kuwait, Dubai and India. I can honestly say I have learned more about our country from being outside the borders. We often don’t understand how others see us until we sit in their seat. Travel can be exhausting and too much can ruin your life and your family relationships. My travel has helped me understand things I would have never grasped without going outside the country.
- Pray often and for all things. Too often people pray only when they are in need or in distress. I have tried to pray to give thanks for great opportunities or for things that have been positive experiences for me (like my marriage and my grandchildren). Giving thanks is a good way to stay humble and to recognize that none of us got to where we are alone. When you think you have got things all figured out, He will help you understand that you have a lot to learn.
- Baseball explains many things. I almost left this one out, but I had to touch one more time on baseball. I jokingly tell people I have an addiction to college baseball and that I work to support my habit. This is somewhat true and I am a rabid fan of Vanderbilt baseball. My wife and family are very understanding when the month of June rolls around because they know that usually means my weekends are tied up because the Vandy Boys are playing in the NCAA tournament. The thing I have learned here is that being somewhere in person makes all of the difference and television never can adequately replace the feeling you have when you are somewhere and something amazing happens, like when Vandy won their first baseball national championship in 2014. We were also there when they won their second in 2019. Omaha holds a special place in my heart because of the wide range of emotions I have experienced there.
I think I have exceeded my 1000 word promise, but hey, I am on a roll.
Seriously, I am thankful to be here typing this to celebrate 62 years and I hope I get the chance to type many more of these. My parents both died before age 63 and I lost one of my two brothers at 62. Life is precious, don’t waste your time.
Give thanks and make this world a better place.