Third Chances

A friend, Frank, passed away suddenly, recently. He was healthy and successful, he was great with relationships.

The standout thing about Frank’s life wasn’t that he died suddenly in his sleep with robust health and in youthful mid-age.

The astonishing thing about Frank’s life was how much he managed to experience for himself and contribute for others in the tiny space of 16 waking hours in a day.

Some days I have a hard time getting my laundry done on top of email, not to mention other work, meals, and whatever else.

I wanted to know, how did Frank squeeze in so much doing and giving?

……….

Good money after bad

“See, Frank just didn’t waste time. Especially on people.”

Frank was in a leadership position in his industry. He volunteered on two nonprofit boards, practiced yoga every day, and traveled the world with his partner. He had a crazy active social life. He was a time-giver.

But, a mutual friend recounted a time when he was stood up by a friend for an appointment. It was no big deal, Frank was willing to try again. The next time it happened, the friend wasn’t asked back.

……….

We should catch up

I have a friend who regularly messages me on FB to say “We have to hang out and catch up this week!!” Sure how about Wednesday at 1 for lunch, I always reply.

The Facebook checkmark appears (ie, the friend saw the reply), and Wednesday comes and goes. Then some weeks or a month later, “Hey!! It’s been so long, I’m free and we should catch up this week!”

Today, it finally clicked that I was breaking Frank’s cardinal rule — his secret for how he managed to inject those 50-ish years with so much vibrant experience and contribution.

Everyone deserves a second chance. That’s generosity.

But it dawned on me how far I take “generosity” — spurred on by my own fear of displeasing someone, or perhaps of being alone, even if that person has stood me up over and over again.

Everyone deserves a second chance, but few warrant a third chance. Throwing good money after bad is just bad bookkeeping.

……….

Third Chance Rule

And yet there I was, throwing good money after bad time and time again, as in the case of the friend on FB and too many other little instances to count. Giving energy, and most of all, attention into a little teeny black hole not way out in a distant galaxy but right here in my regular life.

It was just a few seconds to send that reply, but a tiny dripping leak rusts the whole pipe. Just add time and repetition.

A tiny leak of attention away from my to-dos, away from the real friends who always reply. Away from my inner self that needs its own share of attention and love to be healthy.

We’ve often heard, “it’s not what you have, but whom you have.” And this is so obvious that’s it’s become a truism.

But some days I need a simple go/no-go test to help me filter the “Whom.” So here’s my Third Chance Rule:

Use only in case of emergency.

And an emergency doesn’t happen every day.

–Susan

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