“Paint a picture, sing a song,
Plant some flowers in the park,
Get out and make it better,
You’ve got an hour before it’s dark.”
A friend of mine died a few weeks ago. Glyn was a couple of years younger than me and died unexpectedly of a previously unknown heart condition at the end of May. There are two things that give you a sense of your own mortality – your grandparents and then your parents passing away, and people of your own age dying. I think he may be the first person I know around my age to have died.
I didn’t know Glyn tremendously well but I had known him for a long time. We became friends when he was my boss in the HMV Trocadero stockroom in 2002. Together with PY we were a trio who worked diligently but had a huge amount of laughter too. Glyn remained a friend after I left a year later and has been periodically in my life ever since, mainly going to gigs. He moved to Manchester a few years ago and I’m so glad we had the opportunity to reconnect. Oddly enough, PY recently got back in touch and we had talked about the three of us meeting up some time, something that sadly we didn’t have a chance to do.
I write about Glyn this week because it was his funeral last week which I was fortunate enough to be able to attend online. You discover so much about people from their funerals. It’s a real opportunity for people to come together with their stories and to build a picture of the person they have now lost. Amidst the sadness, I find a lot of solace from funerals.
The celebrant who lead Glyn’s funeral said that, of all the tributes that had been paid to the man, the word most often said was ‘lovely’. He was a lovely man. He was a kind and caring friend who was well known to go out of his way for others. I read through all the tributes left on his Facebook page before the funeral, and one that stood out for me was a reminder of Glyn’s most important motto;
“If you can’t be arsed, don’t be arsed.”
When we were in our 20s, I read this as a doctrine of laziness. That says more about me than Glyn. I used it as an excuse not to bother with things. I can’t be arsed, therefore I won’t bother. But it struck me during Glyn’s funeral that I had misinterpreted this all along. What Glyn was actually saying was that there are no half measures. If you’re going to do something, do it wholeheartedly, without reservation. Glyn had many passions – music, football, politics – but his helpfulness is what he’ll be more remembered for. And if was a man of his word, if he said he would help, he would stop at nothing to help. If he said he could be arsed, you could guarantee he would be arsed.
I lost another friend this week, again around my own age (just four years older). Fiona had been ill with cancer for sometime and I did perhaps suspect that the last time I saw her in May might be the last. Again, not someone I knew well but I can tell you one thing. She lived life at full throttle. She loved live music and was pushing herself through the pain barrier to attend gigs until just six weeks before she died. She knew her time was short and she was not going to stop having fun until her last breath.
I guess like almost everyone, I always think I have time in the future for things. We make vague plans for what we’ll do in five, ten, twenty years time. We say we’ll do ‘that’ when ‘this’ happens. When we have enough money, when the kids are grown up, when we retire. And I am totally behind having a vision and a plan. But when are you going to start making that plan happen?
Fiona knew she was living on borrowed time and Glyn didn’t. But they lived their lives in a very similar way. They made things happen. Yes there were things that didn’t happen, but I don’t think either of them could look back with too many regrets. I stand by my assertion that you regret the things you didn’t do far more than the things you did.
So I’m carrying Glyn and Fiona in my heart right now and vowing to learn a lesson from their lives and untimely deaths. I’m as guilty as most for not progressing towards my values, my purpose and my dreams as quickly as I could. But time is short. And many won’t know how short until it’s too late.
So ask yourself every day; “What will I do today to move towards or live out my values, my purpose, my goals and my dreams?” You can’t take huge steps every day. But every day holds an opportunity to be your best self.