Hello, Goodbye

September was very good to me. Life handed me a stein full of cold beer, and let me tell you, the eighth swig was just as good as the first: refreshing, crisp, and ever so satisfying. And I lapped it up. Believe me, did I ever. I felt like Steph Curry in Game 4 against the Denver Nuggets back in 2013. It was amazing. Straight fire.  

Then October started. And some annoying work stuff happened. And I started pitying myself, which led to me counting the hours until I could get out of the office and wallow in that pity.  

But then, something unexpected happen. A friend gave me a life update. This person’s life had taken a turn, and they had to go another direction—which meant leaving my life story for the time being. 

The news stunned me. I sat at my desk shaking for several moments. How could this happen? Why? This was so unfair! My emotions ran the gamut several times over and left my head spinning. Only when I got into my car to go home could I begin gathering my thoughts. Here is the main thought I arrived at.

People leave our lives all the time—sometimes expectedly, sometimes not. Either way, you are then forced to say goodbye. A common reaction tends to be, “Why didn’t I spend more time with this person? Why didn’t I grab lunch when they asked? Why didn’t I respond to their message more promptly? Why wasn’t I a better friend?” Now, feeling guilty is natural, but it isn't terribly productive either. You don’t get to rewind and do it differently. Give thanks for that person’s presence, and if you wish, resolve to make time next time.

But there is something you can do, right here, right now. And it’s much easier than you might think.

Think about the people you care about and are with you in your story right now. Then go one step further: Tell them you care about them and that they matter. Do it directly: text message, phone call, email, video chat, whatever. Don’t be afraid of being honest. Tell me, what is the worst thing that can happen when you open up your heart to someone who matters to you and you know feels the same way? You aren’t talking to your middle-school crush. You’re talking to a parent, a sibling, a cousin, a neighborhood friend, a high school teammate, a college roommate. This is someone you already adore, no strings attached. Why not remind them of that adoration? Speak it into existence. The whole world doesn’t need to know. Just that person. 

Here, if you need a little template for inspiration: “Hey (INSERT NAME HERE). Was just thinking of you. Remember (INSERT FUN MEMORY HERE)? Good times. Appreciate you.”

Even if you make that person smile just for a moment, isn’t that worth it? To bring light to someone you care about?

Because let me tell you something. Time is our most precious resource in the world, and we really don’t know how much any of us truly have with each other. Lives are dynamic, not static. That doesn’t mean you should live afraid. Rather, it means there is little time to be afraid. Why hoard positivity? It isn’t a finite commodity. Plus, what happens if that person’s (or your, for that matter) story changes, and their chapter in your story ends? All those positive vibes you thought about but never shared do you little good. So please, open your heart with those that matter to you. I am certain you’ll brighten their spirits. We all could use a little more light in this world. 

Thankful to Be a Bear

I was looking forward to the 121st Big Game—the college football game between Cal and Stanford—for months. I bought a “Beat Stanford” t-shirt earlier in the year in anticipation of wearing it on game day. I even altered travel plans based on when the Big Game fell on the schedule. I was convinced the Golden Bears were going to beat the Tree this year, and I wanted to be there for it. (Granted, I am convinced the Golden Bears will win every year, but realistically speaking, I felt they had a pretty good chance this time because they have a good defense, and Stanford is overrated in every component of the game and has been ever since Jim Harbaugh and Andrew Luck left.)

But the Big Game was postponed this year because much bigger developments are enveloping California right now: The state is being ripped apart by wildfires. Smoke has settled across the Golden State, making it unhealthy to be outside. Thus, the powers-that-be decided to move the game to December 1—hopefully, conditions won’t be as bad then.

However, this isn’t me bemoaning the postponement of a football game. Nor is it me about to go on an environmental musing. Rather, I want to share a lesson I learned from this past Saturday.

Most of the time, life isn’t going to go as you expected. You could plan, and use history, and apply smart advice, and anticipate, and make a great estimate of how you think things will turn out. But something that never even crossed your mind will happen, and you’ll have to adjust. That’s just life. It isn’t good or bad. We can craft narratives to make ourselves feel better, but that’s about all they accomplish.

That’s why it’s vital to have good people in your life. And that’s who entered on Saturday for me. Because even though I wasn’t at Memorial Stadium cheering on the Cal football team, I was still with Golden Bears. Or, as I prefer to call them, friends. We ended up having a grand day of laughing, playing games, and being generally merry. It reminded me of my time in college, when life was simpler and time flew by. Except now, I have some of my own cash to spend.

At the end of the day, I have an affinity to Cal because it provided me some wonderful opportunities, including expanding my mind and helping me become gainfully employed. But I love Cal because I met some of the best people in the world there—and I’m blessed enough to still enjoy their company.