Since Christmas, I have tried to slow down my pace. I am trying to take things more in stride, but doing so can be a very difficult job for a driven entrepreneur.
As a self-employed businessman, the reality of arriving at age 64 is difficult to accept. Each year brings another stark realization that my limitations are imposed by time. Until this year, I have been able to ignore the "tick tock" of inevitability. Until this year, I celebrated the turning of the calendar with the invincibility of my children.
This year seems different. I am finally learning to "humor" my mind as it races across previous chapters of my life while unrealistically demanding an equal number of future chapters. My young mind seems oblivious to the limitations imposed on it by my age and ailing heart. It adds more and more "stuff" to my bucket list, including a long-postponed world tour with my wife and family, the launch of a nationally-syndicated talk show, my next book, a run for Congress, the upgrade of KCAA to 50,000 watts, attention to my organic farm, play time with my airplanes and tractors, and the restoration of my wife's Corvette and Volkswagen Beetle -- too much in the bucket with so little time remaining.
If my body was the federal budget, my mind would be uncontrolled deficit spending.
I'm usually amused and entertained by the continuous Animal House party in my head, but yesterday it was rudely interrupted by shortness of breath as I dragged a heavy bag of trash to the curb. Reality can be a real mental party pooper.
Following my heart attack last year, I put my long-abused body on a strict vegan diet, but I did nothing to curtail the excesses of my mind, which refuses to deal with questions like, "Why am I trying to do so many things?" and "What will satisfy my endless drive to accomplish the next thing?
My breathing had almost returned to normal when I began listening to a radio show about the children returning to school in Newtown, Conn. I started thinking of my four grandchildren. The oldest is 9 years and the youngest only 4 months.
My mind wandered back to the year 1953, the year my education began in a two-room schoolhouse east of Austin that was right out of a Little House On The Prairie set.
My memory jumped to February of that year when my grandfather showed me a newspaper with headlines about Harry Truman leaving office. I could only read a little so my grandfather pointed to the president's picture and then to each word as he voiced the headline, followed by his reasons to be concerned about Ike's party affiliation. It was my first political lecture.
Suddenly, the radio program threw me back to the present and the children who were killed in Newtown, Conn. For an instant, I began to consider the ripple effect of all those young lives getting terminated in the first grade, but the idea was too unfathomable to tolerate. Instead, I contemplated the ripple effect of my own untimely death as a child. How would the world be different if I had been killed in 1953? I immediately recoiled from that thought too because the alternative reality extinguished my entire family.
The tragedy of Newtown, Conn. is sending me on a curious mental journey that seems to be changing my priorities. I am seeing the importance of doing things with my family instead of spending my remaining days doing things for my family.
I am realizing more than ever that regardless of our age, our real bucket list begins and ends with our family.
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