Learning to appreciate needed advice

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, March 31, 2018

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Every once in a while, the advice of my childhood best friend William Charles Janke IV creeps into the my conscience: “We work to live; not live to work.”

Bill told me this approximately 15 years ago on a short guys trip to San Francisco. Instead of staying with the group for a road trip down the Pacific Coast Highway to Los Angeles, I boarded a jet, leaving early to get back to work at a weekly newspaper.

Richard Greene

Richard Greene

Over the years, ignoring this simple philosophy has been the norm rather than the exception. Deadlines, meetings and covering games regularly took priority over catching a band that I never got to see before they broke up (R.E.M.).

This traces back to the most influential person in my life – my father. He was the hardest working person I’ve ever known. With a GED and a junior college degree courtesy of a G.I. Bill, he managed to become a highly successful salesperson and later owned a relatively successful printing company. But there weren’t many family vacations along the way outside a trip to the Alamo or a day-trip to Six Flags and a Rangers game. Don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t trade my childhood for anything. Travel was just one of many sacrifices.

For most of my 40 years, I’ve practiced only what I knew. It’s only been recently, I’ve realized the simple truth that work will always be there, but opportunities to live your dreams and enjoy life will not.

So last week, I scratched off a big item on my bucket list – the Grand Canyon. Truly, it is grand, like really, really big. Pictures don’t do it justice, nor do they tell you it’s located in the middle of a dense forest where then suddenly the ground disappears. Looking over the rim the first time, I nearly broke into tears. OK, who am I to kid, I did.

Over the 73,000 steps I took in two days, climbing up and down and all around the park, it was hard to hide a smile. Even on the roughest climb Sunday, on the back portion of my 13.5-mile journey into the canyon and back, when I thought death was imminent, I pinched myself as a reminder I’d finally made it there.

Perhaps, the craziest thing was when I got back to the top of the rim Sunday. In my celebration, I realized it was the 19th anniversary of the death of my father. What better way to tribute the man who taught me the value of hard work than by living out a dream.

I spent only two days in the Grand Canyon and rushed out Sunday after an epic adventure.

But instead of rushing back to work, like so many times in my youth, I went on to Vegas to to pick up my wife for the second and third legs of a National Park tour, hitting Bryce Canyon and Zion.

Approximately 60 miles of hiking later, I get what you were saying, Bill. It just took me a while to grasp. Now, back to work.

Richard Greene is editor of the Messenger.

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