February 23, 2016

He was a...

"I never lived the dreams of the prom kings and the drama queens, I'd like to think the best of me is still hiding up my sleeve." - John Mayer
Have you ever thought about your own legacy? What is it that you will be remembered by? How DO you want to be remembered? I've never really given it much thought myself. I'm just a simple guy with two kids, a wife, and a dog.

A lot of how you will be remembered depends on when your story ends. If you wrote my obituary when I was 10, it would have to have said that I was a pretty good bowler, that I loved sports, and that I spent too much time watching TV. I hadn't really made an impact on anyone as of yet, except maybe my parents who I'm sure thought I was the cutest kid alive.

By the time that I graduated college I had made a little mark on society, but still nothing stood out. There were no research papers where I cured cancer, I didn't found a non-profit organization to help the less fortunate, and I certainly didn't start any sort of business that created much needed jobs for my home area of Upstate New York. I DID score the game winning basket in a high school basketball game against Mount Morris and I DID help my dorm win the Intramural title in my junior year of college, but is that something that I really want to be known for?

I couldn't really answer that question until I had a family.

It's nice to be known as a pretty decent bowler and a solid high school basketball player, but those are nothing compared to being known as a good husband and a good father. If my life is a multi-chapter book, chapter one ends when I was 25. Sure I had some really good moments, but in the movie version of my life, they would get about two minutes of screen time. The story of my life really takes off after I met my wife and our two kids came into the world.

But is that what I am going to be known for? Being a good dad and a good husband? If I died today, I would be happy if that's how my story ended. But I'm 42 years old and my story is still being written.  I could come up with a cure for cancer, I could create that non-profit, or I could build a company and create those jobs. Who knows? The one thing that I do know is that I don't want to be handed my life story and be left thinking, "That's it?" I don't want to wake up in 30 years and wonder where my life went, I need to wake up tomorrow and figure out where it's going.

He was a...  who knows?  The next chapter starts right now.


This post was inspired by a keynote speech from Brad Meltzer at the Dad2Summit that I recently attended in Washington, DC.  I went into the conference thinking about what's next and while I didn't come out with any definitive answers, there are lightbulbs going off on top of my head.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


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