A resolution to think about

By Matt Clayton - Guest columnist

With a new year ahead of us, I thought it might be nice to review my list of resolutions and refine it a little. ‘Tis the season, you know, that time of year we’re reminded of the need to choose a better lifestyle, work on bad habits, start or finish some project that is long overdue. A seemingly endless list of things we should try to get accomplished but probably will not awaits us, and for some reason it has become a tradition to think about that — at least for one day out of the year.

Like most, I make a mental list when the subject of resolutions is brought up or comes to mind. And like most, my list of good intentions diminish with each passing day until I’m once again swimming in the pot of procrastination. It has been said that the only constant is change, and to some degree I can relate to that, but not in the realm of resolutions where my best laid plans usually sputter and then fade into the land of obscurity. This year, however, I’m hoping to make an exception to that rule in at least one area; a place where second chances are not guaranteed.

I was reminded of that exception recently while looking something up online. I seldom if ever watch mainstream television; it’s not my cup of tea. However, the internet provides other opportunities, if one doesn’t mind wading through the proliferation of nonsense to find them. The other day when opening the YouTube homepage, I went against the grain of never choosing a recommended offering and clicked on a list of notable people who died in 2019. The lists are commonplace this time of year and document the deaths of celebrities and other well-knowns. Most of the people on these lists are folks we have prior knowledge of, and a few we’ve never heard of but may know what they’re famous for. Some, were entertainers, sports figures or famous authors … some were know for a specific event in history, while others were lesser known and are recognized for developing a life-saving medicine, scientific advancement, or something that significantly improves our way of life. Interestingly, they all share a common thread: most are considered heroes in one way or another, and a lot of people knew who they were and what they accomplished in life.

While most of us will lament the passing of some of the people on those lists, there is another list — a much bigger and more important list — the ones known to each and every one of us as individuals, the lists of those we personally loved and lost. Some were dear family members, some, neighbors and friends. Some we knew almost as well as ourselves, while others were just acquaintances that embraced a high degree of respect for the position they held in our lives. For some that hero was a husband or wife, a parent, sibling or other relative. For others it was a ball coach, educator, counselor or Sunday-School teacher. For others it was the one who was always there to visit when the chips were down, the one who made those regular phone calls or sent notes of encouragement in a time of need. It was the faithful aunt, grandmother, or other loved one who always sent a card when everyone else forgot it was your birthday. And some, some were just good people, who did good things in our community, those we didn’t know personally but they greatly affected our lives for the better in one way or another.

These are the real heroes in our lives, the ones we’ll remember forever, and they’re not just some stranger we knew only by a stage name or uniform number. Therefore, shouldn’t one of our New Year’s resolutions be to remember to thank these real heroes that still live while we still have the opportunity to do so?

Every year, including this one, we’ll all get that call, the call no one ever wants to get. We will be notified that the very person we had intended to go see, call or write (or text) has passed on and we’ll never have the chance to make up for our forgetfulness or negligence. I don’t know about you, but the older I get the more regret I have to live with in that department. It seems I always think or say, “Someday I’ve got to get over see so-and-so or call” … but “someday” never comes. Join me in remembering there are few guarantees in life especially when it comes to opportunities to tell others how much we love them or how thankful we are for their presence in our lives. Don’t assume others “just know” you love them, look them in the eye and tell them so, make that call or send that note!

Stop by and visit those dealing with health issues at the hospital, or call on someone living in or recuperating in a nursing home. Be the one that takes the time to make that much-appreciated phone call offering a welcome contrast to the droning television. Share your table and a little conversation at a restaurant, or take a meal to someone who can’t get out or cook for themselves. Remember the value of a genuine smile and a kind word and pass them along often to anyone and everyone when possible. It costs little, but is priceless in the eyes of the recipient.

My father often told me and others, “Life is mostly what we make it,” and, “Just take life one day at a time.” Both are great philosophies to remember in our daily walk. He lived by both and it showed in his joyful countenance. Daddy was never one to sing the blues; he tried to make wise choices and didn’t waste his precious life hours worrying about the past or things he couldn’t change. His attitude was uplifting and that made people want to be around him. When he died he didn’t have a big bank account, but he was a very rich man in other ways and his legacy was one of kindness and genuine love for others and he often went to the trouble to tell them so.

Way too often we overlook the multitude of valuable opportunities lying at our feet. Regardless of our situations, let one of this New Year’s resolutions be to remember just how blessed we are and to thank the real heroes in our lives. Now is the time for me … and you, to plan ahead so as not to waste the precious hours at hand to do the best we can with what we’ve got. Don’t let those priceless opportunities slip away … the clock is ticking. I only hope I can live up to my own advice! Happy New Year!


By Matt Clayton

Guest columnist

The writer, who resides in Sidney, is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.

The writer, who resides in Sidney, is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.