Monday, December 17, 2012

Thoughts about life, crap, training, and stuff - Missing a masterpiece

Missing a masterpiece - 

Someone put a link to this story up on Facebook, and it's something I write about quite a bit here, but I've never actually seen a story or a test, where my philosophy about the things I've written were made so clear.

I'm going to give a high level overview about the story, however I want you to make sure to take time out to read it.

Here is the story.

The high level overview is that Joshua Bell, perhaps the finest violin player in the the entire world, played one of the most intricate pieces of music there is, and basically no one bothered to stop and listen.  Instead, they continued on with the daily grind, and missed out on basically a once in a lifetime moment.  Why?


Because they had to be at work.  Or had to be at breakfast, or whatever any other "thing" they deemed was far more important than taking a moment out, and enjoy something that was obviously very exceptional.  People become so engulfed and self absorbed in the grind that is life, that they can't/don't/won't see when a rare and exceptional moment is in front of them 95% of the time.

I always write about the journey we are on, and taking time out to enjoy the things that journey presents to us.  I think people read it, and they think it sounds good.  I don't think they end up applying it to their life most of the time, however.  I don't write about the things I do because they sound good.  I write about them as reminders to myself, to further enforce the the code I believe in.

Let me quickly run a test on you.

Everyone has lost someone they dearly loved.  Now, when you read that, who is the first person that enters your mind?  Who is it that you lost, that you dearly loved very much?

Now, what is the most important lesson you ever learned from that person?

Finally, do you think that you apply that lesson 100% of the time?

Probably not, right?  That's how caught up in "life" we can get sometimes.  That the most dearly loved person that we have ever lost, can cement in us a lesson that we don't even apply 100% of the time.

I actually can say that I have, and do, apply the lesson I learned from Marty 100% of the time.  That is, always let your closest friends know how much they mean to you, and that you love them.

The issue is, most people don't apply all of these great "sayings" and "mottos" to their life.  It generally takes a life changing event for someone to apply a lesson learned.  To grok that lesson.  And it's because they had no context before then, on how to apply it.  So when someone tells you, "takes chances, try new things, live an interesting life!" or "take time to stop and smell the roses", you may never REALLY apply those lessons until you have a life changing event.  Maybe you almost get killed, or maybe you were just one of the people that walked by the violin player and read about it later, and finally it resonated with you.  That you missed out on something special because "I was headed to work".  Well you missed out on LIFE because you were headed to work.

I have had many a day where I drove to work, and barely remember the drive in.  That's only 15 minutes, but how many minutes does it take to get into a car accident and be gone forever?  Seconds.  There's 900 seconds in 15 minutes.  That's a lot of chances to die.

This past week there was an awful shooting.  I know for certain, every one of those parents would give whatever they could give to have 3, 5, 10, 15 seconds back with their child just to put their arms around them one last time and say goodbye.  To kiss their cheek or caress their hair.  To see their warm and tender smile and face, one last time.



Whether it's your brother, sister, father, mother, or child there are many times they are playing the violin for us, a masterpiece, and we casually stroll on by because "life" has us more distracted.

You won't always have a second chance to hear that masterpiece played again.

It's hard to always remember to listen to the masterpiece because life so often deafens us to it.  Its sweet melody is drowned out by work, bills, jobs, school, training, and other trivial things that seem to roar so loudly to us, when it should be nothing more than a whisper in comparison.

Whatever you do today, if there are just two lessons to learn from what happened at Sandy Hook, and from reading this blog post, it is this.  Listen to the masterpiece that the people we love play daily in our life.  Take time to stop and enjoy it.  It may not be there for later when you "have time for it".

The second thing is this.  Remember the name of a child that lost their life, instead of talking about gun control or sensationalizing the awful person behind this tragedy.

Emilie Parker.  You will be missed.  Though I never knew you, I am sure you played a wonderful masterpiece for someone, somewhere, in the limited time you had here.

I wish everyone well on this Monday.


  1. Wow. Profound stuff as always. Thank you for reminding me to truly care for family and friends, not just act like it. A lesson learned from my cousin Jonathan, who was killed in a car crash caused by an asshole on his phone whilst behind the wheel. I wanted to ask a training-related question on your next post, but given the subject it can easily wait.

    Thanks again.

  2. Thank you Paul. That was very special to read. I am to blame for this so often, and this will certainly open up my eyes more. Also having kids . I let the two older ones go to school. Bit I kept my kindergartner home today. Not out of fear. But because I needed her with dad today.

  3. Thank you, Paul. I read your stuff eagerly, including your books and I appreciate what you provide very much, but this is something I needed today. It's very helpful to read something so similar to what's on my mind, especially when I can't seem to find a way to say it myself.

    As the father of two little ones, including a son in pre-school and a daughter in kindergarten, this tragedy has been weighing on me since I heard tale of it. I can't fathom life without them and agree that the parents of those lost in this nonsense would give anything to have another second with their precious babies. I know I would.

    I also lost my Dad back in October, and although I know he knew how much I loved and appreciated him, he left far too soon and I'd love to be able to tell him one more time.

    Catherine V. Hubbard, I didn't know you but your red hair and smile remind me of my own children. I know you'll be missed.

    Thanks again.

    1. Thank you for helping me remember another name as well. My condolences about your dad. I still have mine and miss him everyday. I called him last night.

    2. I'm glad your dad is still around and I bet he's proud to be who he is. I'm glad to remember a name, they all deserve much more.

  4. I think we are all still crying.

    I tried to ignore the news all weekend and still ended up crying three times.

    My boss is an retired Navy guy who is about the most manly man I know and I caught him at his desk with tears in his eyes on Friday afternoon.

    My wife broke down twice over the weekend and we both cried together during the Presidents speech last night.

    We also have 3 small kids. My daughter is in my picture right there holding a dumbell, she is 6 now and in first grade. My 10 year old asked me what the point of life is after he saw the news ticker at the ice cream store on CNN. My 2 year old has no idea what the world holds for him in the future and the idea that he won't possess that innocence forever hardens my heart.

    To be able to live in the moment is something easily said and hard to accomplish. If anyone can do that 100% of the time they are deserving of the rewards that it delivers.

    I won't be able to remember any names, but I will always be able to understand the love of a parent to a child, and I will always feel pain and sorrow for anyone who loses someone they love.

  5. Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, the school's principal who died trying to stop the gunman. I pray that I would have her bravery.

  6. Thank you for this Paul. I think it's kind of sad that so many of us go through life with little thought to just how precious it really is.

    We are all guilty of thinking that tomorrow is our given right and we expect it to just happen. We take things for granted all the time because we get caught up in all the bullshit aka "the daily routine" and it's only when bad shit happens we stop and think about these things.

    People always talk about death in a negative sense because the only time we ever think about it is in times of grief or after someone close to us dies. I've seen a lot of stuff of Facebook about recent events and we talk about "losing" people in our lives and the pain WE experience as a result of that.

    This again just shows how attached we really are to the illusion of perminance and how we take life for granted because of that.

    We don't "lose" what we never own.

    I think if we can reflect and think about the reality that non of this is perminant nor do we actually "own" anything - it would teach us to be more receptive of not only the people around us we care about, but the experiences we have aswell -

    (This stuck with me after reading this)
    "Listen to the masterpiece that the people we love play daily in our life. Take time to stop and enjoy it"

    I know that one day I'm gonna have to part ways with the people I care about like we all do.
    IMO we should all try to think about that NOW...not after it happens. It's a painful thought to come to terms with or even think about, but we don't have a choice.

    None of us are perfect and we are all guilty of living life like we're immortal - I've had a lot of shit in my life, but I'm grateful to have experienced what I have as it's taught me something.

    Anyway, won't waffle on here - I appreciate you writting this stuff Paul as it's a reminder to myself and I know you've covered a lot of this before. It's refreshing to know there are other people out there who at least stop and reflect on this from time to time, even as a reminder to themselves.
    To me that's a sign of true intelligence - a person who tries to understand their own mind and asks questions :-)

    Thank you once again for the awesome blog - appreciate everything you've shared here from your views of life and stuff, to the training info.

    All the best to you and your family :-)

  7. Great entry, Paul. Really well-stated.

    And, I know it needs to be done, but it's unimaginably hard to read or hear the names of those lost children or see their faces on the news.


  8. Victoria soto, i don't know who you were, but i know your a hero in her early 20's who sacrificed her life for her students, all her students lived. thank you Paul

  9. Thanks for that Paul, the article you linked was a great read. R.I.P. Jack Pinto.

  10. Damn, this post brought tears to my face. And in true honesty, I have failed to listen to the masterpiece too many times. Just like I told you in my email Paul, at 12 years old it is sad to not remember the masterpiece played by my mother but I know she will always be close. Emilie and Catherine will not be forgotten, I will donate soon. This following reading resonate it with me a lot a few minutes ago and I want to share it. Hope everyone likes it.

  11. Paul thanks for posting that article...a great eye opening read. And another great post by you.

    The latter part of the post was...difficult. Even up here in the boonies of Canada we are seeing a lot of news coverage from Connecticut. It's hard to put into words the depth of this thing.

    I was once held at gunpoint in a car for a few hours - as a grown man - and still dream about it years later. And these kids were around five years old. FIVE. My wife has to leave the room once the news comes on.

    Thanks for speaking about it in an intelligent and thoughtful way.


    1. Thank you for an incredibly thoughtful follow up.