Thursday, May 21, 2009

I learned this from that

sketch a dog
Originally uploaded by daveterry.
I have a friend that likes to tell me stories. They are sometimes long stories but they are interesting nonetheless.

He told me the story of his long stay in a hospital. Next to him was a biker laid up from an motorcycle accident. His friends would come to visit him dressed in leather jackets, tattoos, and body piercings. My friend, Kevin, is a friendly guy and so he soon struck up a conversation with the biker and eventually they got to know each other very well.

Eventually the guy really took a liking to him and told him one day that he'd like to give him a gift. He said that he'd like to give Kevin a house. He'd inherited it from his father but didn't like it much. He wanted to do more traveling. So he sold Kevin his house for about half of what is was worth at the time. (Really a gift considering the California housing prices at the time.)

Kevin told me: "I learned this from that: Never judge a person on face value and always show genuine personal interest in other people."

I failed at that. I had a friend that actually worked on my team for about a year. He later went off to another team and we'd see each other occasionally. I'd make it a point to go see him and ask about his family etc.

One day during our quick catch-up talk he said: "You seem like a pretty happy guy Dave."

"Yeah, I am. Love my family, my job, my friends. You seem like you have a good sense of humor too Ted, like that story you told me about mowing your lawn."

"Yeah, I guess, but I do get a little down sometimes. Maybe we can get together and talk?"

"Absolutely, anytime Ted. We could do some lunch this week if you'd like."

"Yeah, I'll call you."

But Ted never did. And I never followed up.

And now he's gone. He took his life just a few weeks ago.

I go over and over his words to me: "I get a little down sometimes." How I wish I could rewind the tape, push the replay on the remote of life, and redo my response. But he's gone now and so is the opportunity.

The sadist thing for me is that I didn't even tune in. I was totally clueless of how deep his depression had become. How could I be so ignorant?

I learned this from that: Live in the now. Tune in. Realize when a friend needs your help. Reach out to them. Don't let the daily noise of life distract you from tuning in to your friend's voice.

Mistakes are often the stepping stones to utter failure.