This is taken from the May Newsletter and message.

Book Recommendation

I have 2 recommendations for you because it was too difficult to settle on just one.

They each appeal to a different kind of reader so, you get to choose 🙂

Factfulness by Hans Rosling

Hans passed away before his findings could be published, but his family finished his work and published this book. It was eye-opening when it comes to where the world is moving. We see mostly negative stories through the news, but when we look at the world as a whole and the direction we are moving when it comes to life, health, and luxury… the results are surprising. I really enjoyed this one as more of a study of humans, perceptions, and data behind what’s really going on.

If you think you have a good pulse on reality, try out the Factfulness quiz here: Factfulness Quiz

Book #2

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

If you are more into real-life stories, this one was fantastic. It is about the University of Washington rowing team back in the 30s and their quest for the 1936 Berlin Olympic gold. Unbelievable story if you haven’t read it already. As a millennial, it amazes me to see the work ethic, resolve, strength, and character of previous generations.

Words of Wisdom

This past week has been an interesting one. My 7-year-old boy has been having nightmares where I or my wife die. If one of us leaves the house after the kids have gone to bed, he usually comes downstairs crying, asking why one of us left and if we are coming back.

I remember doing the same thing as a kid. My dad owned apartments and would often go to his properties to handle issues late at night. It was hard for me to fall asleep until I knew my dad was back home safe.

When I was 7, my mom was diagnosed with cancer, so during her treatments, there was always the concern that she wouldn’t be around much longer. 

7-year-old Erik’s biggest fear was losing my parents.

Once I became a teenager, my parents magically transformed into the enemy.

You know the drill: They tried keeping me safe. They wanted to help me see the big picture and prevent me from being an idiot. I thought I knew everything and that they were lame. I didn’t appreciate them like I should have and constantly asked them to pay for stuff.

The classic parent/teenager relationship.

And, as a result, my thoughts were almost exclusively about myself, with my loyalties shifted to my friends.

I remember having recurring nightmares where I would see my best friend at the time die in the nightmares, and that worried me.

17-year-old Erik’s biggest fear was watching my best friend – Donnie – die.

My twenties brought a new shift in mindset because I somehow convinced a girl WAY out of my league to not only talk to me, and not only agree to date me, but marry me. While my parents and Donnie were still important to me, my biggest fear quickly became losing my wife. I still have anxiety whenever I see a number I don’t recognize come through my phone. I fear that it’ll be the phone call telling me there has been an accident. I still occasionally have nightmares where I lose my wife.

I’m older now.

I have three beautiful kids who are so full of light and love and energy and everything good about the world, and all of these worries still float around in my head. They have all the potential, and as their parent, my only hope is that they get to continue growing and realize their own hopes and dreams.

My biggest fear now is a tie between losing my wife and losing my kids.

The Unimaginable

As I mentioned earlier, it has been a thought-provoking week.

Tuesday marked the 2-year anniversary from when my stepbrother was killed in a car accident. My stepmother had to experience, in real life, what I have only had to experience in my nightmares:

  • The phone call telling her something happened.

  • The drive to the hospital.

  • Seeing her son, battered and lifeless on a table.

  • Identifying him to the coroner.

She never got a chance to say goodbye.

She never got another chance to give him a hug, or tell him how much she loved him before he was tragically taken from this world.

He left behind two young kids who now have to live through 7-year-old Erik’s worst nightmare.

We don’t have time to go over the whole story, but one thing she and my dad shared about the experience at the hospital was that while they were there, Life Flight helicopters took off and returned multiple times. Ambulances came to the Emergency Room entrance, and doctors and nurses were running to help other patients and families whose worlds were crashing in.

Every second, of every day, someone is going through incredible suffering.

Statistically speaking, based on the number of you who subscribe to this newsletter, there are several who have lived through something similar. You know the feelings, the sounds, the emotions, the fear, the pain, and sadness all too well. Many of life’s petty problems become insignificant once you’ve been through something like this. The fog changes you.

This attempt at words of wisdom is not to depress or make sad, but to bring perspective.

We’ve all lost someone. Some more recently than others.

We’ve all experienced bad days. Some more recently than others.

And we will all experience more. Some sooner than others. 

And so does everyone else.

As part of my job and other interests, I get the chance to interact with a lot of people. Most are super nice. Some… not so much.

It takes effort to pull myself out of the immediate situation and see past what is happening right in front of my nose.

I’m not perfect at it, but I’m getting better at realizing that I don’t know this person’s story.

I don’t know what they’ve been through nor what they are going through in that moment.

And I start to like people a lot more with this mentality.

For a period of time, I got super into the musical Hamilton.

And when I say super into it… I was SUPER into it.

Running around the house belting out the entire soundtrack (male and female parts).

Pulling my kids in to pretend to be one of the other characters.

Dancing.

All of it.

(I am a terrible singer and dancer, so my wife, bless her soul, endured this like a champ)

One of my favorite songs is called “Quite Uptown,” and is performed just after Alexander Hamilton’s son is killed in a duel.

Some of the lines that hit me hard:

“There are moments that the words don’t reach
There is suffering too terrible to name
You hold your child as tight as you can
And push away the unimaginable

The moments when you’re in so deep
It feels easier to just swim down…

If you see him in the street
Walking by her side, talking by her side, have pity
They are going through the unimaginable.”

So, over this next week or month or however long you can latch onto this idea, as you see people walking down the street, or you interact with other human beings who seem crazy, or mean, or confused, or don’t do things the way that we think that they should – have pity, they could be going through the unimaginable.

If any of you are going through the unimaginable right now, I hope you find peace.

I hope that we can all avoid tragedies and pain for as long as possible and, when it does come, that we can find strength, and accept help from others who can carry some of the burden when the weight is too heavy for us to carry alone.

I hope to be the type of person who can recognize when others are hurt and have the courage to do something about it.

You are all incredible people who have experienced the good and the bad of the human experience.

It truly is a miracle, all of this around us.

I consider you a miracle.

So today, let’s be just that.

If this made you think a little, consider subscribing to see more.

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