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The trials and tribulations of life can sometimes be rude. Sometimes they can jolt you and set you back on your heels and serve as an invitation to a personal pity party.
You want answers and resolution and until they arrive you fret little things.
Inevitably someone will offer one of these tidbitsâ€¦
â€œLife is too short.â€
â€œDonâ€™t worry, be happy.â€
â€œWill worrying change anything?â€
â€œOne day at a time.â€
"It’s always darkest before the dawn."
Or as my grandfather used to always say, â€œDonâ€™t worry â€˜bout nuttinâ€™!â€
If I listen closely, I can hear him saying those words even though heâ€™s been gone for several years. And I can hear that infectious chuckle of his.
My grandfather didnâ€™t have much. He didnâ€™t want things and was happy just having the things he needed which amounted to nothing more than to have those he loved around him and a good meal on the supper table.
I remember when I heard of his passing. I was in Key West for the first time in my life when that sobering call came. He had fallen ill months earlier and was being fed through a tube. That alone raped him of one of the things he enjoyed most in the world. It humbled him tremendously not to be able to eat as he loved. It broke down his will.
I felt a tremendous loss when Babaluke left us.
When we gathered for his wake, I remember hearing stories about Babaluke that I knew by heart but didnâ€™t mind hearing again. Somehow they brought him closer. And I remember hearing stories from old pals of his from the neighborhood, Little Italy â€“ stories that I had not heard.
When the wake ended I looked at his casket and pondered the things that were said. Most would say that a successful life can be measured by the world you left behind. Is this form of consciousness better because you were part of it?
Everyone loved Babaluke. Everyone! Not because of the things he had but because of the person he was. He was generous in that he was willing to share what little he had; he was selfless and almost coy about any compliments or accolades bestowed upon him; he was loving and kind. And he left the world a better one than the one he entered.
But most of all, the thing I remember about my grandfather is that he was almost always happy. The only time I ever saw his distraught and unable to bring cheer and hope to even an extremely sad moment was when my grandmother passed and I watched him sob over her lifeless body.
Who could blame him? She was the love of his life.
He gathered himself and his strength prevailed. And I wondered about the roots of his strength. Perhaps I thought, his strength was born out of his personal mantra â€“ â€œDonâ€™t worry â€˜bout nuttinâ€™.â€
He was right. He is still right.
His wants were minimal and his needs satisfied. He was happy being exactly who he was. Shouldnâ€™t that be everyoneâ€™s goal?
Instead many of us are driven by measurables â€“ more money, more cars, more notoriety, prettier women, BIG screen TVâ€™s, BIG houses to fit our BIG egos.
But what does that all get you?
Does it guarantee your happiness?
By now some of you might be wondering what this all has to do with the Baltimore Ravens. Maybe nothing. Maybe everything.
You see during this down time in the NFL, I personally refresh. Itâ€™s like rebooting your computer to get all the ya-yas out that might be inhibiting its performance. And as I refresh thereâ€™s a lot of thinking going on and I seem to do my best thinking with these things around me: water, music, warmth and nature. And thatâ€™s why Iâ€™m back in Key West and again thinking about Babaluke.
This morning I rode my bike around the island while connected to my ipod. I cruised along the Gulf side and Mallory Square and then with a seemingly limitless supply of energy most likely driven by my environment, I toured the Atlantic side as well.
And I let my thoughts take control.
Like most of you, I have my own personal battles that need some attention. Yet I think Iâ€™ll take Babalukeâ€™s advice and not worry about them so much. Iâ€™ll just knock them off one by one. Worrying isnâ€™t going to change a thing anyway right? And a worry free life certainly makes it a happier one.
So as we await the dawn of a new season which is approaching the horizon enjoy your day — you won’t get this one back again. Enjoy your summer; enjoy your family; enjoy your partner.
And most of all, â€œDonâ€™t worry â€˜bout nuttinâ€™!â€