Tonawanda News


August 16, 2013

His widow called to tell me the news


Tonawanda News — Then there is the other kind of person, and in my life, one of them passed away last week. A guy I met in a previous career, a few years older than I, who eagerly listened to what I was up to and what I intended to be up to, and offered perspectives. Not ways I would fail, not urgings to dismiss the whole thing, but opinions with silver linings attached to them.

His encouragement tempered all the other stuff I was hearing at the time from the others, and I made it clear to his family, at the wake, how much I appreciated it. He and I somehow both kept in touch and lost track of each other, over the years; postcards from exotic places, mostly. His bucket list evidently included travel. Mine was more like — well, he knew what it was because he encouraged me to go after it.

I hear his words often these days, largely because he taught me how to behave in the company of those younger than I, the ones still sorting out what they intend to do and be in life. Whatever their thoughts, when explained to me, I tend to encourage. Study a college curriculum whose name I don’t even understand? Work in a lab in Vancouver or Singapore? Rebuild a ‘57 Chevy in Mom’s backyard? Get immersed in America’s most competitive industry, rock music?

Oh, go for it, I tell them, and do not fear failing or losing. Even the most prominent of society’s successes win a few and lose a few; those least prominent never took a shot at anything. In the way people with experience in crisis management are best equipped to handle upcoming crises (that is, you’ll have faith in yourself, and know what to do, if you’ve independently faced a few problems in the past), a failure or two can set you up for future success, and believe me, you’ll be able to tell the two apart.

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