I love music.
I love live music.
I love my wife.
We have enjoyed seeing many live shows ranging from Pavarotti to Dave Matthews and from Eagles of Death Metal to Ray Davies. We’ve attended the Van Cliburn piano competition in Fort Worth and have taken in many musicals,
but …I do not like Tim McGraw.
However, as previously mentioned, I do love my wife. And, because my wife loves many things about Tim McGraw - one being his music - we have been to two McGraw concerts. It could be more and I just blocked them out of my memory.
Each concert I remember had a component to it that interested me. The first time we saw McGraw, the group that opened for him was an unknown act at the time – Big and Rich. They set the bar very high for the night; their humor and charisma had the crowd on their feet screaming for more. Tim did not quite match the duo’s energy and it seemed McGraw thought the bar his opener raised was intended for a game of limbo.
You might be thinking, “Greg, if you don’t care for the tight-jean wearing, bald-spot black-hat covering, non-instrument playing, twirling, McGraw, why do you bring him up?” Great question.
There is a song made famous by McGraw, written by someone else, titled Live Like You Were Dying that pings around in my mind whenever I think about my life choices. The first verse and chorus goes like this:
Was in my early forties
With a lot of life before me
When a moment came that stopped me on a dime
I spent most of the next days, looking at the x-rays
Talking about the options and talking about sweet time
I asked him when it sank in
That this might really be the real end
How’s it hit ‘cha when you get that kind of news?
Man, what’d ya do?
And he said:
I went skydiving
I went rocky mountain climbing
I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying
And he said, Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying
For the past six years Jen and I have enjoyed living like we could die tomorrow. We aim to continue this trend until, well, until there are no more tomorrows left to live. The funny thing is, even with clear guidance from life experiences, it took a lot to get us out there living. I first thought man, life is short when Jen’s dad died just a few years after she and I got married. He learned he had cancer, so retired at 58 and died just a year later. That terrible event came in our mid- 20’s and early in the careers we were building. His death should have been a lesson for us; instead, we moved forward building careers and accumulating things.
We both rose through the ranks of our respective fields; Jen worked in Commercial Title Insurance and I managed a company in the litigation support field, and we were successful. Excess money began to increase while available time decreased. The time devoted to work was placated by the ability to afford convenience. This way of life, eating out just about every meal, drinking more than was healthy, working 10 – 14 hour days and then worrying over work once home, was taking a toll on my health. As my weight ballooned so did the dosage of my blood pressure medication. My normal, unflinchingly jovial, personality snapped easily.
I would love to say that we decided to change our lifestyle on our own – or with the help of a song - but that just isn’t the case. My career was the catalyst, it was in decline. I was managing a company whose product was becoming obsolete and I had spent my entire career honing skills necessary to run this industry in decline.
While other divisions within the company were thriving I had not positioned myself to take advantage of potential opportunities. Instead, I was like the captain of a sinking ship. I still needed to manage the ship, all while crewmembers were drowning and not being replaced. I was doing more with less although my pay was plummeting along with the ship. THAT got my attention. Now my thought was, “I just can’t go on like this” and “honey, it’s time for a change.” Looking back with the goggles of hindsight, I can see that if my career were still on the rise we would most likely still be living an upscale, high blood-pressure lifestyle.
Regardless of how it came to be, we decided to make a change. After dismissing other “move on” options we chose to move to Central America. However, punctuating this decision with an exclamation mark was a death that happened immediately after our decision to move to Costa Rica. A year before winding down our careers and making the move my cousin’s husband, barely older than Jen and I, and seemingly healthy, went into the hospital not feeling well and didn’t come out alive. The couple had just had their first baby, a son.
That was over six year ago and since that time, we have lived in Costa Rica, hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Camino de Santiago, and have “loved deeper and spoke sweeter.” Although we don’t have as much money as we once did - we do have time, “sweet time,” to do some of those things many only think about when they are out of that precious commodity.
We are taught the American Dream is all about being able to afford the stuff you want, to not want at all, to have a big house and a nice car. We had achieved that version of the American Dream and found it wanting.
Now we focus on accumulating adventures and memories rather than wealth and possessions and have not once looked back with regret. It’s not too late to start living until, well, until…
it’s too late.