Then, then… we get older. Unfortunately as we age the joy in the small steps of progress fades. What replaces it is an expectation, an expectation that we can just show up, put in minimal effort, and expect maximal return. The expectation is like showing up to run a marathon, expecting to do it in 2 1/2 hours, but you have only run one 5k race to train for the marathon. 9.99999 times out of 10 you are going to fall short of this expectation.
This inevitably creates a problem…
We have become a I want it and I want it now culture. When we do not get what we want, rather than stepping back and asking ourselves the tough questions: "what could I have done differently? What do I need to do differently to become successful? How can I make this happen?" we instead label this unrealized expectation as "failure," and chalk it up as "one more reason why I can't _____ (fill in the blank.)"
I often think what could we all accomplish, how much more successful, happy, fulfilled, could we all become if we had held onto that slow and steady wins the race mantra we had when we were little kids. How could we ever fail as adults if we celebrated the itsy bitsy progress like we did when we were kids?
The reason this has been on my mind is because for the last 6 weeks I, as many of you know, have been mourning the unexpected death of my best friend. I had a friend ask me the other day "how was I doing with everything?" I stopped and thought about this question…
You see there was a small part of me that wanted to answer: "shitty," and make my response all about my loss. I stopped myself because I realized that if I answered this way then I would be discounting all of the progress I have made over the last six weeks.
Instead I finally spoke up and said, "honestly I am doing great."
My friend looked a little flabbergasted at my response. His expression said "how can you be doing great already?" So I shared with him the following:
I believe all human beings are made up of multiple "parts." These parts come in the forms of personalities, needs, wants, thoughts, hopes, dreams, fears, talents, passions, etc... If I separate my life into two parts right now: Part 1 is Jesse not focusing on the loss. This Jesse is doing really great. He is happy, he is healthy, he is making a difference in the lives of others. This Jesse feels he is living his life on purpose and is motivated to empower others to do the same.
Part 2 is also Jesse, but it is Jesse when he is focusing on the loss of a very special friend. This Jesse is sad, he misses his friend, he cries when he recalls certain memories, he hurts when he, out of habit, picks up his phone to call his friend to share something that happened today.
Both parts make up of the whole of who I am and my current reality.
I believe, in some cases, there is an unconscious expectation that when one has experienced a tragedy, that the person allows the tragedy to dictate how they think, feel, and act. This explains the flabbergasted look on my friends face… after all how can I be great after 6 weeks.
Part 1 is doing great part 2 is healing and experiencing all the emotions that come with the healing process.
I often think of the mantra "slow and steady wins the race" while I am going through the healing process. The race, in this instance, is not a physical race to the finish, but rather it is a journey to get to a place where there is full acceptance of what has happened and a complete integration of the impact and legacy that Paul has had and will always have on my life. This process has no deadline or no time limit on how long it will take because ultimately I decide.
One of the most challenging aspects of the whole process is to begin to let go of the pain. When we experience a tragic loss, the pain that we feel in the aftermath almost becomes a way to keep the person alive. After all, when we feel pain at an intense level it validates to us the impact that a person had on our life as well as the depth of love we felt for that person. We become fearful of letting go of that pain because if we let go of the pain, do we let go of the person as well? Do we let go of the love we shared, the memories we made and the impact they had on our life?
Enter in progress and making the transition from experiencing the loss (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually,) to living in such a way to honor the person... this is where I am at now.
I still have my moments of sadness, I still have some very sleepless nights, I still have those times where I pick up my phone to call or send a text, I still have the aches and pains that come with loss; I have all of those and more.
I now also have the happiness that comes with knowing that every thing I do going forward in life will be influenced by the impact that Paul had in my life, the memories we made and the experiences we created. Thus he will always be a part of my life. The same goes for my friend Gabe and the same goes for my Dad. After all, without Gabe and my Dad I would have never done the 1000 Challenge and would not be typing this to you today.
When I adopt a perspective like the above, how can I not be happy? After all, if I choose not to be happy then that is a reflection of those who I loved and lost, is it not?
I believe it is also a sign of progress. :)
Enjoy the pics,