Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Seven nights of Fonzie: Night 2

The “Seven nights of Fonzie” blogs are unedited before a live audience.

While I liked the title of this blog series, I’m not committing to a seven-night run. If I have done everything I need to do after four or five nights, I’m done. If it takes eight or 10 nights, so be it. The goal is to write every night for the next week or so.

When Rush and I were discussing “The Bridge” on Monday at lunch, a documentary about people committing suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, he said that no matter how bad things were in his life, and there have been times where things haven’t been too magnificent for him, he has never found that all the negatives in his life overpowered his desire to experience the good things life has to offer.

I had already been pondering the purpose of my life when we had this conversation. I’ve been doing that for a couple of weeks now. I’m not sure if I’ll ever decide what the purpose of my life is. I really should, shouldn’t I?

The purpose of life is different for different people. Some just want to cash a paycheck and live it up on Friday night. Some want to raise a family and experience the joys that brings. Some want to spend their life making things better for others, directly or indirectly.

What is the purpose of my life? I have an idea, but I’m not sure when I’ll be able to answer that definitively.

But what joys are there in life that I look forward to? What is it that I look forward to in life?

I bicycle every summer, I have for years now. Most years I participate in some sort of fundraising event, a test of endurance and fitness. I haven’t always been motivated to do so in support of a cause, it’s just a nice byproduct of my effort. I do, however, feel like I have a greater level of commitment to Multiple Sclerosis in recent years. I use to ride the MS rides simply because they were well done. Now I ride them because I have a friend whose brother has MS, and that makes me sad.

So I look forward to the challenges of bicycling, for the most part. If that was taken away from me, that would be hard to live with.

I go camping every Memorial Day weekend with a trio from college. There are a couple other camping trips in addition to Memorial Day weekend that occur most summers. I rarely miss one. I miss my mother’s birthday some years because of my Memorial Day weekend camping trip, but I always make that trip, and typically find time for a couple of others.

There’s not many specific dates, but I enjoy the chance to get together with my wide web of friends, from Tes, whom I’ve known for more than 20 years but only see once in a great while, to Scott and Kristin, whom I’ve only known for a few years, but see as often as anyone.

It sounds heartless, but I value my friends more than my family. I am not the black sheep of my extended family, but I’m not the most connected, either. I try to be. Nobody would think poorly of me if I didn’t fly down to Florida at the end of the year for my cousin’s wedding, a wedding most of the Minnesota relatives won’t be attending. But the chance to be at a family event with my relatives has never been a question of “if I can make it,” but rather “how can I afford to do it.”

I don’t live that far from my mother, but I saw her maybe once the entire summer. She keeps quite busy, as do I, so it didn’t seem like that big of a deal to me. Perhaps I take it for granted that she’ll be around a long time.

My brother lectured me about not being more involved with our family, and I still have an issue with it, but rather than hold a grudge, I’m trying to let it go and be a little more involved with my family. I may not be calling my mother on a weekly basis, but I have always shown I care, even if I’m not calling and dropping by every week. (I bet none of them realize how often I made a point to visit my grandfather in the first months after my grandmother died. I lived close to him at that time, so that was part of the reason I visited him as often as I did. I don’t need credit for it, but sometimes I get a bum rap. Life is too short to care about that.

I probably make more effort to stay in touch with my friends than I do with my family, I’m sure of it. And there’s a good reason. My friends choose to have me in their lives, my family, by default is stuck with me. My mom doesn’t owe me anything, and I’m certainly grateful for all she has given me. My friends, however, don’t have any obligation to me.

I have a relatively meager life, not entirely by design, I haven’t done enough with my life to be happy with where I am today and I wonder if I’ll ever be one of those dynamic people everyone marvels at. I know I’m not satisfied with everything I’m getting out of life, I’m not sure if I will figure out how to be. But none of it matters, because the thing that pushes me to keep going in life, even when I have a hard time pushing myself, is that I have friends who value me half as much as I value them.

There’s so much I can, or want, to do with my time, but all of it takes a back seat to the time I share with my friends, whether it be camping with them, (and their children,) in Wisconsin, bicycling with them around Minnesota or sitting on their boat while they fish.

They are the reason I am here, I am sure of it.