The High Road
In September of 2010 I made the fateful decision to partner with someone I shouldn’t have. The last five and a half years of my life have been very difficult as a result.
It is human nature to want to lash out in anger; to hate the person causing you all the pain; to blame them and to want to lay them low. I have fought that basic instinct for the past number of years and have tried my best to remain positive throughout the battle. Many things have happened that have made maintaining that attitude a challenge but I thought I was doing pretty well.
I received a humbling reminder a few weeks ago that I could do better. I post videos online and in so doing discuss a number of topics on which I have experience. My two highest watched videos were titled “Six Signs You Have a Bad Business Partner” and “When People Play the Victim.”
I was working with a 21 year old man for a week. He was providing feedback at week’s end and he told me he had searched me up online and enjoyed watching some of the videos. I was flattered. He then told me that the two videos I referenced above sullied me and were beneath me. He said “you are better than that. Don’t wallow in the mud with your attacker. You take the high road.”
Out of the mouths of babes…I went home and deleted the two negative posts.
I met with a good friend of mine for lunch two weeks ago. He is always a pleasure and has a wealth of experience with failed personal relationships and with overcoming personal demons. The school of hard knocks has made him wise. I asked him about forgiveness and moving on. We had an interesting discussion about whether you can forgive someone for making your life Hell when they haven’t asked for forgiveness and never will.
We didn’t solve that difficult philosophical question but we did discuss how life is too short to hold grudges and focus on past wrongs. His advice was to move on and don’t look back. Focus on the blessings in my life, keep my chin high, maintain my dignity and don’t sink to that level.
I used to believe in karma. I used to believe that evil people received what was coming to them. I used to believe that the legal system was relatively fair and ultimately found the truth. I used to have faith in our political system. Now that I have shed my naivite, I have become cynical about our societal systems. I no longer have faith in judges. I am disappointed with our politicians. I see rich evil men manipulating the levers of power to achieve their malign objectives, from the highest office to the local hockey rink. It is just not right.
Paradoxically, though, cynicism and gratitude arrive together. As I become more cynical about society, I become more grateful for the things in life that truly make us rich. I look around and am reminded on a daily basis of how lucky I am. One of my boys’ teammates was in Sick Kids Hospital for 32 days and 32 nights. He was in bad shape, on a feeding tube, losing weight, very sick, with no plan for recovery. His mom never left his side. Both parents were haggard, worried and anxious. He is only 12 years old and a great kid. Yet a week ago he was released from hospital and is now recovering at home. My children’s good health and their team mate’s recovery are things to be immensely grateful for.
At the same time, the husband of one of my two favourite aunts has cancer of the esophagus. He is struggling and she is exhausted. They run from radiation to chemotherapy to emergency and finally collapse at day’s end wondering if they are any further ahead. It is awful and it makes you wonder if the cure for cancer is worse than the disease. Yet they fight bravely, courageously on, hoping that the treatment will kill the cancer. I hope with them.
Those two examples make you realize that every day you wake up breathing is a good day. In the end, getting even or settling scores is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter. All that matters are the little things in life.
What makes you rich are the people in your life…your kids, your spouse, your parents, your family, your foul weather friends. Loving those people and being loved by those people makes you wealthy beyond measure.
As I try to stay on the high road…still a challenge at times…I am grateful for the people who love me, the time I get to spend with them, the good I sometimes try to do, my ability to be productive, the debts I try to repay, and the joy and positive energy that is all around me.
I am rich in every important way. Everything else is irrelevant.