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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Today just may be your last!

Last week we received word that a young man in my son David's class passed away from stage 4 melanoma. Just before Christmas he went to the doctor to check on some back pain and that was the beginning of a series of examinations that eventually showed many organs and body structures were involved. He was terminal. David Stevens, a 14 year old brother, son, baseball player, trumpeter, and video game lover died less than 2 months later.

Not to be melodramatic or anything, but who could have predicted that? For that matter, as it relates to the untimely death of any of us, who could predict those events either? I have been thinking a lot about this in the recent past. I heard a great Ted talk by Ric Elias called, "3 Things I learned while my plane crashed." Here is the link.   http://www.ted.com/speakers/ric_elias.html

I remember clearly a beautiful autumn day. I was preparing to shoe a horse, new to me, at a picturesque farm on the banks of the Potomac River. I was by myself, and it was cool and peaceful and I had a great sense of well being, and competence as I went about my work. I don't remember the horse's name, but he was a tall chestnut warm blood with great refined features. He seemed gentle as I went in his stall, put on the halter, and led him onto the concrete isle-way. I attached the cross ties, and approached him from the front, as is my habit, blissfully, feeling the "easiness" of the moment. In a flash I felt a hard blow to the back of my head and a whirl, a stumble, and a hard fall to my back on the cold, clean concrete floor. As I opened my eyes and looked up I saw rapidly descending the two front feet of this 1200 pound animal with steel shoes attached, seemingly directly onto my head. It happened so fast I wasn't able to move even slightly and so I lay motionless as I felt in slow motion as the shoes brushed by each of my ears by a fraction of an inch and I felt the huge clap of those massive feet on the ground on either side of my head. Just as quickly the horse rose straight up off the ground and inexplicably I rolled 2 feet to the left as he was crashing down on the concrete floor for the second time.........................................I lay there and waited for all the commotion to stop before I rose to my hands and slowly and watchfully lifted myself to my feet. After a few minutes I carefully placed the lead rope on the halter, released the cross ties, and respectfully and without any words released him to his stall.

That horse didn't get shod that day. I sat in my truck for a long time before gathering up my tools and driving home. I was trying to make sense out of those events, and why I was not dead or maimed. This experience has returned to me again and again as I contemplated the death of this young man and listened to the account of Ric Elias. Am I prepared for this day to be my last? Ric gives us 3 things to think about that he believes will matter to all of us when that moment does arrive.

1) What have I been putting off that should be done. What experiences or events should I engage in now before it is too late?
2) Which relationships matter and how have I let my ego get in the way of those important relationships?
3) Is being a great parent my highest priority?

Today just might be my last and so once again I will commit to not putting off until tomorrow what should be done today, putting my ego behind me with those I love the most, and doing all in my power to be a great and loving parent. This is what is real.

Remember not only am I the blacksmith, but you too are the blacksmith.