|Nathan Laudan delivers his retiring address, |
"I Still Can't Whistle," during the second session
of the 84th Kansas FFA Convention.
Some people can just do some really cool tricks. Like I mean really cool! Like in grade school when people were starting to be able to roll their tongue. Or how about when all of your friends started to be able to snap? Or maybe it was when everyone was finally able to pat their head and rub their stomachs at the same time. Well for me, the coolest trick was whistling, but for some reason I never could. I don’t know when it is everyone starts to learn but obviously I missed the memo because, when it came time for music class one day in 4th grade this kid was not doing it. We had to whistle as part of a song and I tried so hard and just could not do it! Being the “cool kid” I was, I could not let anyone else know that I could not whistle! So I went home and tried by myself, still never understanding how anyone could actually make that sound. Eventually, We quit going over the song in music class, and I slowly forgot about my quest to whistle! Looking back, I wish I had learned, because if you think about it you miss out on some pretty cool stuff if you cannot whistle. Serious! You cannot whistle along with Andy Griffith, you cannot whistle to your dog, and you cannot whistle to a pretty girl! Not being able to whistle is something I honestly regret. I know that might sound silly. But it is something I wish I had put more time into trying or at least asked for somebody’s help to learn. If you think back, how many times have we missed out on an opportunity, wished we had done more, or wished we had devoted more time to accomplish a task. There is something we can do to change that. WE can take actions so that way we do not look back and have these regrets! These actions are simple, but must be exercised every day for them to become fully effective. They are, to approach everyday with positivity, be present and risk it.
When we are going through our day-to-day we must remember to keep positive even though some things may seem to want to tear us down. Sometimes even literally. My freshman year of soccer I was exposed to the worst, most wretched, awful drill that I had ever experienced before. To me this drill made gassers, suicides and 3-mile run’s look so easy. This was the dreaded plow! Now for those of you who have not had the extreme privilege of partaking in this drill let me paint you a picture. You are first expected to run up a steep hill time after time after time. But it is not just running you are doing. Oh no! Next you have a 200lb senior attached to your shirt doing everything in his power to keep you from running up that hill. He is digging his cleats in, tripping you, pushing you down, throwing you back. And you think that isn’t enough? Well good, because after every 5 you can go take a lap. Not jogging laps, but sprinting! Yep this was my favorite thing to hear my coach say when we arrived to practice. The first few times we did them, I hated it. I could not stand plows anymore and I dreaded the days when coach would call them out for practice. But soon I came to realize something. These drills were not so bad. If I just tried hard, and did not think about them I could make it through practice. Sure they were not the best part of practice and I still did not like them. But, they were doing a positive thing for me. They were helping me keep in shape and teaching me a little bit of determination. Plows were an important lesson to me my freshman year of high school that I desperately needed. If I had the right attitude and looked for the positive in the situation I could make it through just about anything.
We have a choice when life deals us the hard situations. We can either give up and throw in the towel, like I wanted to every day when we had to do plows, or we can turn it around and approach it with a bit more positivity. Let’s face it. We have all had those days. Maybe it was not getting that solo in band, or maybe you did not make the varsity squad. Whatever the situation is, it is up to you to change it around. Remember how when we were 5 we could do anything! Whether it was fighting off the bad guys, taming a dinosaur or trying to master the perfect belly-flop, we took on everyday with positivity and never looked back. What if we had the mind of a 5-year old again? What if we took that mentality of being positive and loving life into our everyday actions? How much different would things be? Would you not be afraid try that new CDE you have been avoiding? Would you try out for the basketball team? Would you run for a chapter office? Whatever it is, try having that 5-year old mentality and look with a positive attitude. This way we can take on the challenges that we face with a full force, allowing us to live without regret.
When living without regrets we have to remain positive, but we also must remain in the present. One woman that does it best is none other than my favorite cooking show host, Paula Deen! Now I know what you are thinking. Why is this 19-year college guy talking about a grandma who cooks on television? Well, if you were to walk into my room between the hours of 4 and 5 on a weekday you could find me sitting on my couch watching the newest episode of Paula’s Best Dishes where she was making magic again with her whole pound of butter in every recipe. But she has not always been this successful. Paula Deen divorced her first husband back in 1989 and left with her 2 boys and only $200 dollars to her name. She eventually worked and saved up enough to open her own catering business, but was once again faced by hardship. You see Paula suffered from agoraphobia, or a fear of being in public places. Because of her phobia, her service was limited to how far her sons could travel for the business. But the business continued to grow until eventually she was offered a position by a Best Western Hotel in Savannah, Georgia. It was at this moment in her life that she had a choice, a choice to forget the past and live in the present to make a better life for herself and her sons. It was this choice that turned her career around, forced her to deal with her phobia, and in time landed her, her own TV show on the Food Network. Paula Deen no longer looks into the past and worries what was behind her. She lives for every day, every minute, every recipe, every ingredient. Her style of cooking is in no way regarded healthy, but instead is what gives her comfort and lets her live without regrets.
Paula makes every recipe in such a way that allows her enjoy every moment of the “here and now”. She understands what it means to live for the present and soaks up every moment. An incredible quote I stumbled upon once is “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” What are the storms in your life that are preventing you from soaking up every moment? Do you dread going to practice when instead you could be enjoying your senior season? Are you always on your phone when you should be talking and enjoying the company of friends that are right in front of your face? Do you worry so much about winning a CDE that you forget your purpose for competing? We should not be worrying about what is going on somewhere else when there is a whole life that is going on right in front of our very eyes! Take it all in and enjoy it. The moments that we have right now we will never have again, and if we are letting them slide past than we are missing out on the present. The present is called it, for a reason. Because it is a gift, a gift that should not be wasted. We should live in the present so that way we can absorb every minute and live without regret.
When we are being present, and remembering to stay positive we are living our lives without regret. But we must also remember to take risk. The summer before my freshman year of high school I was so ready to take on what I though was my biggest risk yet, White Water Rafting!!! The first few rapids were pretty darn cool! I was getting splashed and trying to maneuver it just right to not hit the rocks! We then came upon a spot in the river where the raft guide said something that really threw me for a loop. “This is a swimmer’s rapid. If you want to jump, lie on your back and keep your feet pointed downstream. We will pick you up after it is over!” Wait. What! First off swimming in a rapid sounded extremely dangerous and we were not given a whole lot of instruction on how to be safe! But I had just been given a chance, a chance to do something that I wasn’t sure I would ever have the opportunity to do again. So I weighed my options. Stay safe in the boat or take the “swim” of a lifetime? I quickly jumped in and was carried downstream. And let me tell you it was a blast, but I never would have had this experience if I did not take a little risk.
Many times, people will write down all of the risks that they want to take at some point in their lives. Oftentimes it is called a bucket list. But the way I like to look at it is what I call a “life resume”. Now a resume is something we put together listing our achievements, awards, job experience etc. But on a life resume a very different set of achievements, awards and experiences go on there. These are the “risk it” moments where we are trying something that requires us to take risk in our lives. These are things that when we are 60, 70, 80 years old we can look back and say, yeah I did that (point finger). These experiences however are more than just that. They will force us to grow as people. They will make us stretch our boundaries, go beyond our comfort zones and ultimately help us to become better people. These are things like visit a foreign country, learn a second language or try something new on the menu. But sometimes we lack the daring to do it. In the movie “We Bought A Zoo” Matt Damon says “you know, sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery, And I promise you, something great will come of it.” If you had that 20 seconds what things would you add to your life resume? Would you go bungee-jumping? Or maybe sky diving? Would you eat at the new restaurant in town? Would pick your guitar back up? Seriously, what would you do? We must take risk to live our lives to the fullest and without regret. Those risks can be a little scary but just as Matt Damon said, “something great will come of it”.
My life resume is still lacking the “Learned to Whistle” bullet. And I still wonder what it was that made me stop trying to whistle. I don’t know if it was because I was super frustrated, or maybe it was because we had already moved on to the next song. Whatever the reason I missed out on learning on how to whistle. Something I want to put on my life resume. But there is still time to learn. There is still time to “beef” up my life resume. But we only get one shot to do it. We must fill our resume so we can make it all worth it and not look back with disappointment. We do not have another opportunity to fill out this resume except the here and now. Kansas FFA, remember to approach everyday with positivity so you can take on the challenges, be 100% present for the current situation so you can absorb fully every aspect of it, and take a little risk because without it we may miss out on opportunities that we may never get again. We do not get another chance to do this over. Kansas FFA, Live Without Regrets!