Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Somday is Today: passions and happiness

One thing that's been bothering me the most about my dad's untimely death is the fact that he died before he was able to do everything that he wanted to do. Now I know that the chances of anyone being able to live long enough and have the opportunities to be able to accomplish everything they want to accomplish are very slim, but knowing that my dad relied heavily on my 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.


  1. I understand exactly how you feel. I still feel like my daddy got cheated in so many ways. He did do many of the the things he wanted to and loved, but not all of it. If anyone deserved a nice retirement it was my dad. It hurts all the more when my mother talks about the things they wanted to do together and never got to. Like driving to the Grand Canyon together. Hold on to that passion and the drive to make the most of your life while you have it. I have lost a bit of that over the years since my dad passed. I need to recapture it. We all should strive to be happy now and not later because later may never come.

  2. You have already done so much in your time on earth - writing, taking risks, leaving the comfort of where you grew up and heading into the unfamiliar.
    I understand your worry about not getting to do everything you love and making your mark. But I feel that you are on a path to do all those things, and you will continue to do them because of your Dad's influence.
    I get very frustrated with people who say "someday I will do ___ once I have time/money/older kids/etc." I have friends who say this all the time. They rarely do any of the things they want to; it is always "someday." Another friend has always had a "let's go do it" attitude and once he found out he had cancer, his family has continued to go out and do things. I know which family is going to have few regrets.