often talked about someday thinking makes me incredibly sad.
He talked so much about wanting to retire as soon as he could so he could paint and pursue his myriad of hobbies all day. He hated his day job even though he was very good at it and watched the clock the entire time he was there. He talked about having a house at the beach or a house in his beloved West Virginia mountains. He thought that someday he would be happily retired. Clearly, that someday never came for him. He didn't get to fully enjoy the fruits of his labor. He didn't get to pursue his real passion, art, at his own pacing and timing. He made me promise that I would tie his paintbrush to his hand if he became too frail to hold it himself, often citing other artists who had their family members do the same. He never got to see me fulfill that promise for him.
Seemingly everyday, I've been learning new lessons about living from my father's death. This particular lesson is like a punch in the gut for me. I keep asking myself if I am really living my life in a way that allows me to pursue my true passions for an adequate amount of time. How many hours have I piddled away doing asinine things instead of writing or traveling or pursuing a hobby or doing something that makes me genuinely happy? Is my job really making me happy or does it just feel like a waste of my time? Is the stress I feel from my job and the relationships I have worth it? If I died today, what would I have to show for my time on earth?
Sure, I have to pay the bills somehow. Sitting at home and reading books wouldn't be sustainable. My dad pursued the career he did because it provided a decent living. But wouldn't it be worth it to make my passions more of a priority and to even attempt to make money while doing so? Even if I failed, I would know that I tried and that I spent more time doing what I loved in the process.
At my dad's memorial service, a priest who volunteered to help officiate asked my brother and me two questions so that he could know a little bit more about my dad: what was the best thing about my dad and what was one of the best things he ever did for me? I started crying when he asked us these questions because, really, how the hell does a child answer those about their father? The best thing about him was that he was my dad and that he quite literally gave me life. I was flooded with thoughts and memories and I had to excuse myself instead of give him answers. I've thought about these questions since and I have to say, I think one of the best things he ever did for me was to show me how important it was to pursue the things in life that give you the most happiness. Above all else and no matter what, my dad was an artist. He sketched and painted and breathed art. My dad's creativity lives on in me through writing. I can't not write even if I wanted to stop. I need to write and read and breathe the written word in order to be the happiest and the most fulfilled. There's no sense denying myself and allowing feelings of regret to rob me of the best parts of life.