The week started very typically for me. After the last football game of the season ended, the next morning began a new series of meetings and checklist creations to map out my otherwise random five days. I find without a list each day; it can be rather easy for me to fall into the trap of mindless distraction for extended periods of time throughout. A structured list of goal setting each week, seems to keep those days at bay. While each week is unique unto itself, in many ways still very predictable.
As usual, typing words upon my keyboard throughout most of the day provides the core activity for me to get things accomplished. Lately, I seem to be writing more and more comparatively speaking. I guess this is a good thing, because I can only interpret the need to do so as a means for my mind to allow some drainage of stored content. It simply must be filling up in some jumbled way of random thoughts and feelings, waiting to be released via my fingertips.
When I wrote my book Stealing Home ( to be released later this year or early next year ), there was clearly an ebb and flow to the writing process over 12 years of intimate life-storytelling. Back then, I would go months and months without touching the book. When the timing was right, I might have found myself writing for 12 straight hours a day for weeks and weeks. When it comes to sharing, for me it just has to “feel” right, or I won’t bother to offer anything up for the sake of meeting a personal deadline.
With me, I never know how it all is going to work out. Usually, I can say there is some sort of trigger which sparks my mind-flame to burn for extended time. With the creation of my new website (www.adversityrockstar.com) , it really offers me the perfect place to store all of my content with the hope folks can find comfort, perspective, reflection, or simply a faithful place to visit over a cup of coffee…so lately I write constantly as a loyal following continues to build. I received over a dozen e-mails after my last posting. For me, it is total and absolute validation my time is well spent on this mission. If there is a possibility for a reader to consider any one of my blogs in way which might offer help or support during a time of stress, uneasiness or contemplation – I am fulfilling my purpose.
I travel to hospitals and meet with families, sick children and those who are struggling with mortality and loss. Each visit and unique onto itself as there are days when I travel home and feel completely satisfied with my efforts, and others when I arrive home and want nothing more to do but sit with a glass of wine and shake my head.
People say to me all the time, my stories and perspective have offered tremendous help to countless amounts of folks over the years. When a simple web page has been viewed by close to a quarter of a million people, it reinforces to me the power of communication so there must also be some truth in my efforts to inspire. For this reason, even on the bad days dealing with what I hear, see and experience with others, I continue to pursue my dream of helping people who might be struggling with life events. This week proved to be much different, however.
There are always times when we fail on reaching those who sincerely are struggling in life. I have to tell you, if there were ever a time despite all of my efforts to help others when I felt completely helpless in doing so, Wednesday February 5, 2020 must certainly have been the most recent reminder. I would love to say, those days come and go like all other days. When you live with the mortality of your own child, these days hit home like a powerful hidden disruptive force. I have learned to deal with them, which is why I try to offer up so much assistance and “hope” to others who are wrestling with the concept of life versus death.
I’m 52 years old, I can handle whatever comes my way at this point. I have seen it all, done it all and collapsed more times in complete despair, alone on hospital and hotel room floors then I care to relive or share. My point is that I am stronger today, because I had always been able to get back up and learn from each subsequent adversity as I faced it. I always found a way to persevere.
As of two days ago, this had not been the case for a tragic 17 year old who took his young life in his classroom. He never got back up or had a second chance to learn how to cope. How bad must it have been for him to take such a measure. A support system failed. No one ever saw this coming, including those around him. In fact, this poor soul had even been to our house on more than one occasion recently.
I can stand on stage and share my triumphs and my failures with some purposefully crafted intertwined message for those in attendance to take home with them. Had there been one more person in attendance, one more person to have been able to speak with this young man at a time of need, one more blog for him to read, one more person to listen, one more friend simply to offer words of comfort. Perhaps I would not be typing with such regret knowing one of my sons’ best friends took his last breath on that day via a gun. I simply cannot make sense of it, no matter how hard I have tried over the last 48 hours. My heart is absolutely broken.
I’m going to take the day off. In the meantime, please keep your eyes and ears open. There is another story out there just like this one. My hope is that it won’t ever be written, but the unfortunate reality is that it might be. This is definitely one of those instances when we should all say to ourselves, “if only”. Ironically too, the name of the school is even called “Second Start”.
As my son Aryn so poignantly posted on his Facebook page… “ Fly High Josh”.
Next week I’ll try this all again.