As we grow older, we unfortunately must face the intimidating reality of our mortality more frequently. It's a natural consequence of age that never grows any easier. I learned today at work that a longtime colleague had passed away suddenly last night. John Sincavich was an entertaining character with one of the largest personalities I've known. He worked on our firm's HelpDesk, so I didn't work directly with him on a regular basis and only really did so when my machine would decide to fail me. However, John and I shared frequent conversation because we worked on the same floor and, thus, ran into one another constantly in the hallways and kitchen. John, a seemingly peripheral character in my life, left me with some great tidbits of wisdom. He probably had no idea that he'd done so, but I think the tidbits could serve a wider audience well.
One of the most common themes laced throughout our discussions had to do with traveling and seeing the world. John would share his stories of travel in South America and prod me for details of my meager, in comparison, travels within the U.S. I'll never forget running into him shortly after my return to Wheeling from working in the firm's New York office. He made a point of stopping me to let me know how pleased he was that I'd taken the time to move away from the area and embark on the adventures I had. It sort of framed my experiences in a different light. As he spoke to me, I was equally impressed that he would take an interest and take the time to voice support for what I had done. What I never had the chance to say in return to him was that his tales of travel to South America were inspiring to me. Each time he spoke, his face would light up like a child's, and he would recall details like it was yesterday. It was apparent that this time had left a major impression on him, and it left me grateful. I was grateful that I had the opportunity to hear how life had been good to him. I was grateful because I feel so inundated by bad news on a daily basis and yet this peripheral colleague at work was able to single-handedly remind me that life is really good. And fun!
Another common theme more recently was that of being out in nature. Somehow, he'd discovered my downtime interests in hiking, kayaking, etc. So, he'd tell me of his adventures on the river, favorite restaurant experiences as he indulged in his times boating and locations that he'd been to that stuck out to him (i.e., state parks, etc.). Again, as John spoke during these times, it was with an excitement tainted only by joy. And by hearing his stories, it inspired me to think even more about the amazing experiences I've had the chance to enjoy.
And so today, when I learned of John's death, I thought immediately of the void his absence will leave for his wife and son. I was also touched by a version of that sadness and so decided to take a few moments out of the day and walk down to the river and give John's memory a few minutes of reflection. As I sat, I realized that the overarching theme of my entire experience of knowing John was that of making it count--making this all-too-short time here count. Find what you love and do it. Do what you love and find the answers to why you're here. Most importantly, when life hands you demands and time-consuming stuff that you may rather not be doing, focus on that time you do have and make it count. Squeeze in all you can and be grateful. And remember, you may have a short or long life, that cannot be controlled. But, how you spend that time? It's in your hands.