What do you see when you look at me?
It’s ok, go ahead, I’m sure I have heard it all either to my face or behind my back.
What do you see???
A 54 year old man that some would argue is well past his prime? Kind when he wants to be or grumpy, selfish and maybe a bit of an asshole?
What do you see when you look into my eyes?
Green coloring, dullness and exhaustion. Anger, exasperation, or disdain?
Blank, kind or idiocy?
How do you judge me as I walk your way?
Cocky, still strong, or broken and gimpy?
Or do I seem just stiff and slow?
Who are you?
Are you a perfect human being?
Who are you to judge me at all?
Who are you to say anything about my life, how it’s lived or how I may appear.
Are you that much better at life than I?
Have you taken a moment to see life through my eyes? To understand before touting your opinion for all to hear?
Have you walked a mile in my shoes?
I am a 54 year old man this is true.
54 long hard years that I will never let define me but years none the less that definitely explain a little about who I am.
You may say I am old, you may see me as past my prime yet I say nay. With age comes wisdom, life lessons and most importantly; perspective.
Looking into my tired crows feet encased eyes.
The green in my eyes used to shine quite brightly. Fed by the devil inside and a need for constant mischief they are now mellowed, tempered, colder, and see things, habits, and people much, much clearer. They still gleam now and again with the sparkle of a child or with the heat of desire, but do not take their stony gaze for granted as they are still sharp and alive.
When I walk toward you I will always greet you with open arms and a smile. I will take you in as one of my own and if you are willing to listen regale you with wisdom from years gone by. It’s just my way.
I may look stiff and slow, and in some ways I truly am. Injuries from years past haven taken its toll on my slowly aging body. A life or death surgery, replacing my aorta with a synthetic tube. The loss of a gallbladder along with a few broken bones, torn muscles, shattered shoulders, knees, burns and scars. Calculating movements brought about by years of being trampled and shit on both physically and emotionally.
I carry with me the weight of so many deaths, families broken, spouses, children, teenagers, mothers, fathers, brothers/sisters, grandparents and friends. Lives snuffed from this earth, witnessed during my long and eventful career in the fire service.
Two wives, women I loved who were my life. Their lives taken way to soon, leaving behind hurting children and families, nothing modern medicine could do to save them. A void left behind that sits like a black mark on my brain. Yet each day I put both feet on the floor and take that all important step forward, trying hard to never be weighed down by life, experiences and the injustices it may bring.
How could you know?
How could you know as you judge me that I believe life is always best lived. That I know better than most our days are numbered and we should live, love and laugh every second of every moment of every day.
How could you know from your platform of judgment, I believe we do this gift of life a serious injustice by neglecting to do just that.
How could you know that after all I have been through and seen, I still carry enough love in my heart for more. Much, much more.
More love for my children, more love for my true friends, more love for new friends, more love and adoration for someone very special in my life, who I choose to love wholeheartedly. A woman who deserves every single bit of the love I have to share.
These people I love are my kingdom and I would fight to the death to protect each and every one of them.
How could you know that I am always looking to share.
Share my knowledge, share my charity, share my emotions, share my passions, share my fears, share my laughter, share a hug.
What do you see when you look at me?
For someday I will be gone.
I won’t be sad.
I will die like so many before me.
It is the nature of the game.
But I will do so on my terms, with a smile on my face, and those I have loved so, will know they were loved in return.
I will no longer be here to care what you see.
And no matter what you see or your opinion, I will have been filled with more life and love than any one man rightly deserves.
That my friends is a life well lived.
So what do you see?
Better yet, what do you see in yourself?
It’s important for you to know.