The Most Valuable Land on Earth

OakwoodStatueThere’s a concept about the most valuable land on earth being the graveyard: because with all of those people are buried unfulfilled dreams, unwritten novels, music not created, businesses not started, relationships not reconciled.

While difficult to quantify, you can be sure that it’s got a ring of truth. We all know people that are still alive that have all but abandoned any dream they once had. Going through life on their day to day, paying their bills, nothing more, nothing less.

We love the days of the week named Monday and Friday. As sure as the sun rises and sets each day, you can listen to your workmates curse the one day, and thank God for the other.

Why is one day of the week any different than the other? Because people want to escape their boring jobs, and on a grander scale, their monotonous lives.

And some pass away with having done just the chores of birth, school, work, and retirement with nothing else to show for it.

It’s a waste. Don’t we have more potential than that?

A couple of years ago, a good friend at work decided to fulfill a dream to join the military. She chose to face the rigors of boot camp and the chance of deployment to the Middle East than spend her life in a cubicle.

Most thought she was a little insane. The more accurate perception should be brave, smart, and unwilling to settle. Maybe the most sane out of everyone.

The situation reminded me of the Morgan Freeman quote from one of my favorite movies, The Shawshank Redemption, as follows:

“I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice. But, the place you live in is that much more grey.”

To fulfill a dream, no matter how small, should always be a focus of  life, in addition to all those “chores” to be completed to live in the moment and support your family.  We don’t do this because of the bugaboo of fear.

Fear Strikes Out

I break this kind of fear into two categories: the fear of failure, and the fear of rejection.

It’s OK to have these types of fears. Everyone does. But they need to be managed so they don’t stand in the way of your entire existence.

Strangers In A Strange Land

I can’t think of anyone that should have been more fearful than my grandmother, when she and her family emigrated from Sicily to come to this country, looking for opportunity. She:

  • was leaving the only home she ever knew
  • had limited education at that point
  • had a language barrier she struggled to overcome
  • didn’t know anyone in America
  • didn’t have an immediate place to live
  • had to endure processing with arrival here
  • was just a teenager, thrust into a strange land!

How did all those fears wind up affecting her throughout her life? She had her bumps in the road, and very painful experiences in later years, but she and my grandfather certainly lived their version of the American dream. They:

  • Got factory jobs and proved themselves to be quickest, most efficient workers
  • Ran successful businesses in not one, but two, restaurants
  • Built a house and paid cash for it
  • Put the house on an expanse of land that featured fruit trees and large gardens
  • Took a dream trip back to their homeland to visit family
  • Survived very hard times, starting with the Great Depression
  • Were married for over six decades
  • Were mentors and teachers for many (including myself)

Pretty impressive stuff, in my opinion. Fear can be a killer, but my grandparents refused to let it stand in their way.

Burning Clocks

With Wrecking Ball, Bruce Springsteen set out to write a song about the demolition of the old Giants Stadium. He instead came up with an anthem about fighting back hard times and the ultimate decay of our lives.

In the song, the lyrics ring out “When your game has been decided, and you’re burning the clock down…”

Folks, life is short. The game has nearly been decided. Our clock is burning down. It’s hard to take action on the truly important because of the all of the little things that need to be done. As my cousin once said, “Life gets in the way.”

Make a point to push it out of the way.

Decades from now, none of us will be here. No one will remember, and no one will care whether you lived your life just paying the bills and watching reality television, or if you chased down your own version of the immigrant dream.

Historical greats of the past are now a blip on the radar screen, profiled in only books and memories. Unless you cure cancer or eradicate poverty, you will be too. So what’s stopping you?

Seriously, if my two little, tiny Italian grandparents can come to America and create their own world with all their obstacles, what excuse can the rest of us possibly have?

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7 thoughts on “The Most Valuable Land on Earth

  1. Hi Joe,

    My father was a very quiet guy. Sometimes I think he lived a life of quiet desperation and other times I thought he was incredibly content living a simple life. I’ll never know really …

    Anyway, I think you know how I feel on this matter. We are close in age, Joe, and have goals to keep making things happen. Why don’t we stick around for another 50 years? You never know, right? 😉

    It is interesting comparing different versions of the American dream and how your tiny Italian grandparents persevered by not letting anything stand in their way. When you look back at the obstacles they faced it sure is pretty hard to come up with a legitimate excuse.

  2. I intend to be here in 70 years- got too much to do to not be around. Aside from that I agree with all that you have said. You get one shot in this life.

    1. I’m hoping to be here another 40 to 50. That would get me to the point where I could outlive my relatives that got to their 90s. But I’m well aware, no matter how great your genetics are, there are no guarantees. I’m on the cusp of 50 years old, and I see more of a sense of urgency in my attitude towards a lot of things. I still waste some of those hours that I still have left, but I’m more aware and I’m doing it less (my flat screen tv sure has suffered because of that 🙂 ).

  3. EVERY SECOND COUNTS my Brother from another Mother, and so if you Love Someone, TELL THEM EVERY CHANCE YOU GET. One Saturday morning I got home from work and called my father’s house, (YES, MY BIRTH FATHER) to ask his wife for his cell number so I could call him in the hospital. (he had fallen and broke his hip, plus other complications) She laughed and told me it wouldn’t do any good since she had his phone and was charging it for him, but to call in about an hour, when she’d be at the hospital and giving him back his freshly charged phone. I waited a little over an hour and called, and we had a nice conversation. I remember telling him that he sounded good, like he was on the mend and that I was glad for that, since I was still getting to know him. (LONG story, maybe some other time) He laughed and said ‘it could be the medication!’ I laughed too… We spoke for a few minutes more and I told him I was glad to get to talk to him that morning, and that I looked forward to our next conversation. He said he was glad too, and told me to tell Lori that they loved her and I said I would, and I told him I loved him too. Less then 24 hours later he passed away… And so AGAIN I say, If You LOVE someone tell them EVERY CHANCE YOU GET, because it may be the last conversation you have with them…
    (BTW, I Love You Joe, please know that. Always have, always will. -Rush tickets or no Rush tickets! LMAO!)

    1. Love you too, bro. Thanks for your wonderful comment, I’m glad you got that chance to talk to your Dad one last time. You were in my thoughts yesterday as “Limelight” rumbled from the speakers of the car radio as I was dropping Gab off at school. What can I say? You’re forever my Rush connection. 🙂

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