Today was an eventful day for me. At lunch, my friend Phyllis called to tell me the sad news that her father passed away last week. We enjoyed a nice 20-minute chat (including me giving some song suggestions for the funeral mass) and I assured her that my family and I would pray for the repose of her father’s soul and for her entire family.
Ironically, I talked to Phyllis while I was on my way to a “Celebration of Life” for Peter Swinton, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers – where I worked from 1995 to 2002. Peter tragically passed away earlier this month from a biking accident. St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church was jam-packed, a wonderful testament to just how well-loved and respected he was.
Although I never got to work with Peter directly, all of the speakers at the service reinforced what I knew of him: he was kind, fun, humble, intelligent, playful, and loyal. He was an outstanding leader and devoted husband and father.
All the speakers spoke about the fact the Peter didn’t have any hobbies; rather they were all better categorized as passions. How Peter had an uncanny ability to make everyone around him as excited as he was. And despite all of his serious responsibilities, he didn’t take himself too seriously.
As I learned more about Peter, I realized that he possessed many of the same attributes that I strive to possess. I want to be passionate and engaging. I want to excite people with my passion for certain people, things, and activities. I desire to excel at my job and in my ministry.
Eric, another partner at PwC, ended his reflection by quoting boxer Muhammad Ali: “Don’t count the days; make the days count.”
This quote resonated with me throughout the rest of the day. I wrestled with it quite a bit as I asked myself if I truly make my days count. Or do I get caught up in the banality of everyday life and just go through the motions? And what about those days when I waste hours because of my laziness or complacency?
We got home from a birthday party just before 8pm. I told Jacob and Kayla that I would take them to the park so they could ride their bikes. So we loaded up the van with their bikes (and my workout mat) and made our way to a local elementary school. They rode for about 20 minutes while I did my exercises on the grass.
When it was time to go home, we started to load the bikes in the van when I remembered the quote. I realized that I had an opportunity to challenge and stretch the kids a bit. To make the day count.
“Why don’t you guys ride your bikes home instead?”
Jake and Kayla seemed hesitant. Individually, neither one is that much of a daredevil or risk-taker (unless we’re talking about Disneyland rides). Both of them tend to opt for the safer, more convenient option.
Kayla innocently answered my question with a question of her own: “What happens if I get hit by a car?”
“You won’t,” I replied, “because I’ll be right beside you…and the car would hit me first.”
So off we went: Jake went ahead while I jogged beside Kayla a few meters behind. We navigated through a couple of side streets before getting onto a slightly busy Railway Avenue. It was fascinating to see their confidence grow as the time wore on…to the point where I would have to yell at them to slow down and wait for their old man to catch up.
We turned onto Steveston Highway and they bolted their way through our complex and into our garage. They jumped off of their bikes – leaving me to put them away of course – and ran inside to tell Gail and Sean about their accomplishment.
On the surface, it might not seem like a big deal. After all, there have been a lot younger kids who have biked a lot further.
But to Jake and Kayla, it was indeed a big deal; you could see it on their faces. They conquered something new and will likely want to try an even longer distance next time. All because they took a step outside of their respective comfort zones.
After a couple of minutes at home, I remembered that our van was still at the park. So I went for another jog; the extra trip provided me with a few more minutes to proudly reflect on the kids’ newfound confidence.
And to thank God for giving us an opportunity to make the day count.