Five Things that 2012 Taught Me

happy

2012 will NOT make my top ten.  It was a less than stellar year for me personally.  I know for some people, like that dancing Korean fella on YouTube or the U.S. Olympic Women’s gymnastic team, it was a great year.  However, in the world of Will, let’s just say I’m not so much a fan the 2012.

Here are some things that I learned from 2012:

5.  Mayans are BIG FAT LIARS!!!  – Why would you listen to a culture that no longer exists!!  If they were so awesome with their predictive calendar then why didn’t the March 21st, 1521 calendar read -“Karl’s birthday, dentist appt.,  Montejo slaughters our village.”

Lesson learned:  Don’t listen to a culture that died out over 400 years ago and didn’t have wifi.

4.  Lance Armstrong is a BIG FAT LIAR – Maybe bigger than the Mayans.  Lance has always been a personal hero of mine because of the hope he gave Lynn when she had cancer.  Now that hope for many of us has been tarnished.  I can’t believe how wrong I was about the guy.  I was REALLY wrong.

Lesson learned: My father was my hero.  My wife is my hero.  My brother is my hero. My brother-in-law is my hero.  Everyone else will have to stand the test of time like they have.

3.  Suffering = Happiness –  Everyone can be happy when things are going their way.  I believe how happy you are in life depends on how happy you can be when you suffer.  This past year I suffered a lot due to my own fault and in turn made those around me unhappy.  Making those around you unhappy because you are unhappy is a very selfish act.  Dennis Prager, the Jewish rabbi and author, writes – Acting happy is a moral obligation. We owe it to everyone in our lives — our spouses, our children, our friends, our co-workers — to act happy. Acting unhappy on a regular basis is an act of selfishness that can devastate one’s children, ruin a marriage and end friendships.

I know people who will make your life miserable if Starbucks didn’t have the soy latte they want that morning.  I also know people who have terrible things going on in their lives like divorce, cancer and death and still have a smile on their face and joy in their heart.

Lesson Learned:  This is what I tell my students so I really should take my own advice – How happy you are in life depends on not how glad you are in the good times but how glad you are in the bad times.  Embracing the suffering as a path to happiness is something I’m going to need to work on in 2013.

2. Life in the Slow Lane – My dad, who I am a lot like in more ways than one, had one speed – all out.  He worked fast, fished fast, chopped wood fast and ate his bowl of ice cream fast.  That’s not working that great for me.  I’ve found that if I slow down when I do things,  I actually enjoy them more.  The commute to work is more fun because I get to listen to more podcasts and music and talk with my carpool-mate, Kelsey.  Dinners are more enjoyable (and I eat less) when I slow down and talk to people.  Reading a book is pure ecstasy.  My lesson plans are better and my teaching is better when I slow it down.  I make less mistakes and the quality of my work goes up when I take my time.  I honestly don’t know why I’ve always been in such a hurry.

Lesson Learned: Mindfulness in the most mundane of daily tasks can bring great enjoyment and satisfaction.

1. Life Should Be Lived Fully Everyday – Superstorm Sandy, the Connecticut school shootings, the Colorado movie theater shootings have one thinking that life stinks.  Well sometimes it does.  However I also know how amazing life is.  I know this because I have a wife, kids, friends, students and co-workers who care.  It’s easy to forget when all we hear about are how horrible our society is.

So here’s a neat little story- Sunday we were to meet friends at Starbucks in Westchester to go on a geoaching adventure together.  I wasn’t really into it but I knew I needed to get out and move around.  As I was getting up a very tall African-American gentleman about my age called out to me about my VCU Rams hoodie I was wearing.  He said I had good taste and he too was a Ram.  We talked a bit about how great the team was and how proud we were of the university.  He then told me that he played on the Rams basketball team in the mid-80’s.  I asked him his name and he said, “Calvin Duncan.”  I remembered him and how great a player he was but just barely.

We shook hands and both said how great it was to meet each other.  He had an amazing way about him; so gentle, kind with the warmest smile.  It was like someone had flipped a switch in me and for some reason. I was energized and grateful to be having fun with friends.  It was almost like God had sent someone to give me a nudge out of the gloomy rut I was in.  I could have wasted a whole day with great friends and my wife by being a morose doo-doo head.

When I got home I googled Calvin to jog my memory about his basketball career.  It turns out that Calvin gave up basketball after a while to serve the Lord.  He is now the pastor at a large church here in Richmond.

Lesson Learned: Don’t be a doo-doo head

Happy New Year!!!

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