Last week, while I was driving around running some errands, this song came on the radio and completely gave me goosebumps as I tuned in and found myself putting the volume a little louder. I had never heard this song before. (I later realized that it was just released on July 23rd.) The more I listened, the more I noticed tears welling up in my eyes. I think this song will touch many of you as you read the lyrics or watch the video below. So many of us go day to day in a rush – work, errands, commitments, play dates, after school sports and activities, doctor appointments, meetings, happy hours and what not. We forget the little ones in tow, our family who we neglect, our parents who might be getting older and who one day won’t be around for us to call and say, “Mom, can you help me with (fill in the blank).”
I don’t have kids of my own yet, but when I think of my childhood, I remember activities, not money. I remember my brother and I waiting in the parking lot outside of the house with our bikes beside us, holding on the handle bars, just waiting for my dad’s truck to come down the street so we could run in, throw the bikes in the back and head to the park to get in a couple of hours of riding up and down the hills before the sun set. If my dad had a job where late night meetings and work trips were involved, that’s a memory I wouldn’t have. I remember my mom picking me up from school, and when we got a puppy when I was in third grade, how every now and then she’d surprise me and bring the pup in the car to pick me up. For some reason, riding in the car with the dog for 5 blocks seemed like heaven at age 10. My mom wasn’t a CEO or a big shot at a business, but we were happy, they made ends meet and I have memories that will last me a lifetime. Memories I hope to re-create with my own children some day. I can’t remember not having something I wanted or not having my parents present at an important event – or any event. We attended ALL of my brother’s basketball games together, as a family. Every practice, every game, both of my parents made it there after work.
This song really puts things in perspective. Sometimes we have to say no to work, or no to a promotion to be more active and present in our family lives. Whether it’s spending time with the kids in our lives (our own kids, or those that refer to us as Auntie, or Titi, Nina or whatever other pet name the kids in your life have for you) or our aging parents or even grandparents if you’re still lucky enough to have those around. No amount of money or success can replace missed birthdays, a missed football game, a missed ballet recital or even picking your kid up with the dog in the backseat from time to time. We need to, as a society, work less on weekends, not answer every email that comes in our Phone after 6 p.m. and dedicate those hours to family and family dinners. Evolution or technology has made us a society that works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I still think that though that’s great, the simple pleasures that were once probably taken for granted 15 years ago are disappearing with every iPhone or smart phone or iPad that’s sold.
With that, here’s my Wise Words for today in the lyrics of Phil Vassar, Don’t Miss Your Life.
“Don’t Miss Your Life”
Papers spread across my seat, a big deadline to make
An older man sitting next to me said, “Sorry to intrude,
Thirty years ago my busy friend, I was you.
I made a ton of money and I climbed up the ladder,
Yeah, I was superman, not what does it matter.
I missed the first steps my daughter took
The time my son played Captain Hook in ‘Peter Pan’
I was in New York, said ‘Sorry son, Dad has to work’
I missed the father daughter dance
The first home run, no second chance
To be there when he crossed the plate
The moment’s gone now it’s too late
Fame and fortune come with a heavy price
Son, don’t miss your life.”
Funny you should say that, I was sitting at the gate
My daughter called, she made straight A’s and they’re off to celebrate.
Scrolling through the pictures of my little family
My daughter with her mom and friends, not a single one with me.
They know I love ’em, I know they know I care
The truth is half the time, I’m not even there.
I missed our fourth and fifth anniversary
Our girl was early by a week
Her sister had to hold her hand
I was in L.A., she said “I understand”
I missed her first day of school
Then what kind of crazy fool
Lets such precious moments pass
We all know time goes way too fast
Hold on tight ‘cause it don’t happen twice
Don’t miss your life.
When I get off this plane, I’ll buy a turn-around ticket
Saturday’s her eighth birthday and I’m not gonna miss it
There’ll be balloons and birthday cake
And I’ll clean up the mess they make
My mom and dad are drivin’ in
I haven’t seen ’em in God knows when
My wife will probably say to me
“I thought you were supposed to be in Portland
For a few more days”, I’ll take her in my arms and say
“I heard some words that hit me hard last night,
A man said: ‘Don’t miss your life’.”
What do you thinks is more important work and money or family? What do you do to try to make time for your family in a society and work environment that almost requires you to be on call all day? How do you prioritize your family? What would be a deal-breaker to you when it comes to work/life/family balance? What would you never do for more money or more success? Any tips on balancing it all? Share below!