Giving the Reaper a Wedgie 4/12/09

As I pass the half century mark in life I have reached the age where friends and coworkers are starting to die off one by one. Not of old age as a rule but of some strange medical malfunction or something unforeseen and unexpected.

The thing that I find to be the most tragic when losing an old friend isn’t thinking of all the years of life they missed by dying in their 40s or 50s but the 40 or 50 years of life they wasted while here.

Most people allow themselves to fall into the status quo rut of the 9 to 5 life. The most exciting and anticipated thing in their life is watching a football/hockey/car race game on TV.

I'm amazed at the energy people put into watching pro sports all week, listening to sports radio endlessly and squirreling into the men’s room at work to read the ever present sports page hanging in the stall, then echoing the sport’s team talking points in the lunchroom. Watching other people living life from the safety of their non-life consumes their every spare moment.

If you look around you will find most people rarely go outside except to go from a house or building to their car and back. The closest thing to sucking up the great outdoors is cutting the grass as fast as they can so they can get back to the dribble on TV.

We are here for just a short splash of life. Yet most people waste their chance to grab this spark of life with both hands and shake it up. With very little commitment life can be a wild ride full of thrills and spills. No one’s last words on their deathbed are ever “I wish I had spent more time at work” or “watched more TV”.

Even if it’s a fishing pole and a six pack, get out and live a little. Add a rowboat and live a lot. A mountain bike or a kayak will provide the vehicle to make you start enjoying the earth most people spend their lives avoiding.

A good camping tent costs less than $50 dollars at Wal-mart and a weekend in the country cooking over a campfire is priceless.

I have always been the guy other people live their lives through vicariously. Coworkers smile jealously as they listen about my kayak or sailing adventure over the weekend.

I get stopped by strangers in parking lots all the time with questions about the kayaks on the roof of my van. They ask where I go paddling and what it’s like followed by a long gaze into space saying they wish they could do something like that.

That is a problem easily solved but I think most people are afraid to leave the safety of their lounge chair or bar stool long enough to get a life.

Slow down and soak up where you are and where you plan on going. When you step out of your house to leave for work, turn around for 5 seconds and take it all in. Think of the good times and the accomplishments you have racked up over the years there.

Take a deep breath and reflect for a few seconds, it may be the last time you will see home. Not because you are afraid of dying but because you are not afraid of living. I live on my sailboat and always turn around for one last look as I walk away. The short blast of memories ranging from near death adventures to lazy drunken days always starts my day off with a devilish grin.

Something as simple as a hammock will open up a world most people don’t even know exists right in their own backyard. Move that afternoon nap from the couch out into the shade of a tree out back and watch the clouds, squirrels and birds dancing around you and you’ll be amazed at the wonders you have pissed away all your life.

I wish more people could muster up the courage to live life like it’s ending next week, because sooner than you think it will be that week and too late.

I am so tired of burying friends that spent their last years of their life fighting with an ex-wife(s), out of control kids, or relatives making their life miserable and unbearable. They wasted irreplaceable years over petty bullshit.

We all know the guy that sucked up every minute of overtime they could volunteer for, living their life in a cubicle or on the assembly line until they fell into an early grave never seeing the light of day.

Anyone dying before they retire is tragic. Just as tragic are the guys that retire and are dead six months later because they couldn’t or wouldn’t find something to occupy their lives and give them a reason to get up in the morning.

Get out and go for a walk, grab a bike or find a canoe and a case of beer. I highly recommend a kayak as a jumpstart of the quality of your life. Don’t be another dead guy whose only memories involve a TV remote or an over-flowing ashtray at the end of the ratty old corner bar.

Live, party, have fun! You will be amazed how your outlook will change while your circle of friends morph into doers instead of watchers.

I am tickled pink to have a chance to ride this spark of life into the ground kicking and screaming. Even though I work 55 hours a week I make the most of the short time I have here. Between the motorcycles, kayaks, sailboats, bicycles and assorted toys over the years I could drop over dead before my next beer and I will go smiling. I know I have outlived most of the people that are twice my age.

Is my life perfect? No! Is my life fun? Damn straight!

I have made it my life’s mission to drag friends from their spider holes out into the daylight so they can learn that life tastes sweeter the closer you fly to the sun.

You’ve got to push your limits till you scare yourself now and then just to clean out the cobwebs and keep the twinkle in your eyes alive and bright. Don’t be one of the masses walking around like zombies with dead eyes afraid to step out from under the awning and dance in the rain before the inescapable tap on the shoulder from the reaper.

Get up and laugh in ole’ Grim’s face! Spit in his eye and live your life like it’s your last dance. Cause it is……

Every man must die, but very few men ever truly live!!

Walking the Talk!! Here is a peek behind the curtain at the Author's life.

written in memory of three old friends that I lost in the last few weeks, Steve Paling, Barb Haley and Brian Hulett. Doers to the end... they will all be missed.