Columnists Mark my words

Column: Sometimes you get more than you bargained for

by Father Mark Goldasich

Life is precious. Don’t waste precious time with drama. 

Don’t you just hate it when that happens? You know, when out of the blue, God sends you an unmistakably clear message — one that you certainly need to hear, but that you don’t particularly care to. Those words above, about life being precious, hit me right between the eyes last Friday afternoon.

Even more humbling was where the words originated. Traditionally at this time of year, graduates hear from older, hopefully wiser, people about what life is all about. I never expected that a high school graduate would be the one teaching me.

Let me give you a little background: Last Friday was the day that Apple released the iPad with 3G. (This means that a person can still access the Internet even when there’s no WiFi available. If none of this makes any sense to you, don’t worry. Just keep reading: The lesson I learned is not about technology; it’s about life.)

I’d been waiting for this version of the iPad for weeks. When April 30 was announced as “the day,” questions swirled in my mind: Could I reserve
an iPad beforehand for pickup? (No.) Where would be the best location to get one: the store on the Plaza or in Leawood? What would the demand be like? Would there be hoards of people lining up to get one? How early would a person need to get there to be assured of getting one? How about the weather that day?

Sad to say, I not only peppered the people at Apple with my questions and concerns, but also Leaven managing editor Anita McSorley, who was also interested in getting this iPad. (I even reflected that if there were only one left — and it was a question of which of the two of us would get it — would I graciously allow that honor to go to Anita . . . or would I fight her for it?) The more I analyzed the situation, the “fussier” I got. Eventually, Anita hit on a great solution: She’d ask her daughter Colleen, a freshman at Washburn, to head to the Plaza store early and hold a place for us in line.

Since the store couldn’t sell iPads until after 5 p.m., we asked Colleen to arrive at the store at 12:30. She did, and reported back: no line; in fact, she was the only one waiting. When Anita and I arrived to relieve her around 2:30, there was still no line. (Let’s just say that Colleen was a tad bit less than happy with our plan and leave it at that.)

I have to admit that I felt silly at this point. I’d put more time and energy into the iPad mission than probably went into the planning of D-Day. And, thanks to Anita’s unselfishness, I was the first in line, but was all of the effort really worth it? While pondering this question, I happened to be reading that week’s issue of the Tonganoxie Mirror. That’s when I came upon those words about life that started this column.

The words came from the mouth of Connor Olson, an 18-year-old Tonganoxie High student. He’d graduated a bit earlier than his classmates because he was dying from a rare form of cancer. His words about not wasting precious time with drama were read as part of a memorial service for him, prior to his burial on April 27. I didn’t know Connor personally — his family belongs to the United Methodist Church in town — but his words gave me pause. The article described this inspirational young man as someone who lived each moment of life to the fullest and without regrets, someone who remained positive and filled with faith despite his terminal illness. (For more on this story, visit the Mirror’s Web site at: www.tonganoxiemirror.com.)

I put the paper down and mentally tallied up all of the moments of life that I’ve wasted on “drama”: from being distressed about punctuation or grammatical errors in The Leaven to being upset at distracted drivers on the road to fuming at choosing the “wrong” line in stores to obsessing about getting an iPad. And what did all of that drama accomplish? Other than raising my blood pressure and lowering my patience, absolutely nothing.

Mother’s Day is a great time to do a little reflecting on this precious gift of life that our moms have given us. Let’s express our gratitude by resolving to truly embrace life: to give up all the pointless drama and instead relish the adventure, opportunities and blessings that daily surround us.

Do I regret standing in that line last Friday? Not at all. Yes, I did get an iPad. But more importantly, through Connor, I got a whole lot more than I bargained for.

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Fr. Mark Goldasich

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