Today is a doubly reflective sort of day for me. First and foremost, it’s Memorial Day and secondly, I’m getting ready to travel to London on a red-eye out of JFK tonight for a work conference all week. Memorial Day makes me reflect for what are, I think, fairly obvious reasons and travel always makes me reflect because I know I will be encountering new places, peoples and experiences.
In thinking of Memorial Day, it can be a lot of different things. It’s a day of rest (well… at least it should be) and BBQs and taking a few minutes to think about the ultimate sacrifice that over a million Americans have made to protect freedoms that most of us just flat out take for granted. That last part almost sounds cliched, but it probably sounds that way because sometimes the things that are just so obvious tend to get slapped with that kind of unfair tag. But honestly… how often do any of us think about that? I mean genuinely and honestly stop for a moment and reflect on the fact that people have died so that you can I can live a fairly uneventful life where we get to raise our kids, go to work, enjoy our weekends and be who we want to be without a lot heck of a lot of interference.
I took a look at the source of all knowledge… Wikipedia, obviously… and found this entry on total U.S. combat casualties over the course of our country’s history. It’s sobering stuff to look at, especially when you see the Civil War estimates that the war claimed the lives of 2% of the entire population of the country – 625,000 people with close to 600 dying every day. If that doesn’t give you a moment to pause, then there’s nothing a whole lot I can do to help you at that point. Just take a moment… even just a quiet 30 seconds… to appreciate the gift of the freedom you enjoy if you live here in the United States. We are very, very far from perfect, but you would be hard-pressed to find a place much better. I believe that with all my heart and want our country to stay that way.
But I also had a slightly less lofty moment of reflection today that had less to do with our freedoms as a people and more to do with what Memorial Day has meant for me personally the last few years. As a baseball coach, Memorial Day was the day every team, club, organization and such in the town I coach would get out and march. It’s complete mayhem, but also a lot of fun… except I’m not there this year. Rather, I am in the midst of doing a bunch of last second packing, e-mail checking and planning before leaving on my trip to London and so I missed the parade this AM for the first time in 4 or 5 years… and I hate that fact almost more than I can say.
There was really no good reason, excuse or explanation for my not being there. Yes, I really am pulling a whole bunch of things together right now to prepare for my trip… but seriously? That couldn’t have been done Saturday? Or yesterday? And this frustrates me to absolutely no end because that parade is now a bit of tradition and I’m missing it for just no good reason at all.
And all this for one simple and unassailable reason: I just need to do a better job of getting my act together. Period. Oh sure, I could go into a very grand and verbose post about how I am a classic introvert who recharges my batteries with alone and quiet time or that I have been very busy with work and blah blah blah. Those things would have been both true statements… but also really and truly piss-poor excuses.
So in some ways, the fact that I do a better job of reflecting when I travel is probably a good thing so I can reflect myself into fixing my little red wagon and not missing out on things that are most important to me in life… because that often ends up being the end result.
But fear not… this is not a post about wallowing in self-pity and whinging over what has gone before. I can only take that in myself for about 5-10 minutes before I find it annoying, so Lord knows none of you should have to soak up any of that a second longer.
Because on this day of memorial and day of reflection… I am putting myself back on track with 2 things more important than any little silly gripe I may have:
1) That when people have given their lives so you have the luxury of blogging at home with your feet on the table, it’s best to take that solid shot of perspective with a quiet nod of sincere thanks; and
2) That as long as there are nephews in the world who get a kick out of walking in parades (and hitting bodybuilder poses while waiting for them to start), then there is some real good in the world to make you smile.
And a smile is spreading across my face right now. Happy Memorial Day 2010, everyone.