Hey all, as you may know, I like to post some of my old Blue Skies Magazine articles from time to time. Today, I was inspired by a Gandhi quote and it made me think of this piece. That, and I’m fully immersed in home projects right now, closets are as organized as they have ever been, my office the latest disaster zone en route to kick-a** organization, hahaa. Anyway, the point of that, is that I also spent a lot of yesterday getting to look at a compilation of photos of my Gram because it’s hanging on the wall near where I was working. It’s a beautiful present Nick gave me.. and yes, I cried when I opened it.
So yeah, here it is. This one is, and will always be, one of my favorites…
Blue Skies Magazine, June/July 2010
Life Coaching Column #4
“Gramma and Gandhi”
By Melanie Curtis
So I’m sitting here in my gram’s hospital room, being here for her in her final days. Why? Sure, she is my Dad’s Mom, and societally we learn this is what you do for your family… but is that the real reason I’m missing an event I’m supposed to be running, paying the one-million-dollar flight change fee to stay, and sitting for hours by her bedside just on the off chance she’ll want another hard candy or orange juice? Duh, no. The reason is because she is a woman of integrity. She loves with vigor. She never falters in who she is and how she treats people. Never. At the same time, she’s cool. Fun. Funny. She taught me how to play Poker. And Liar’s Poker. And Pitch. And Rummy. And how to burn ants with a magnifying glass and sunshine, after spending the day knee-deep in mud at the pond catching frogs. She ran our family slaughterhouse, mowed the 8-acre lawn bi-weekly, and chopped wood with the boys well beyond age 60. Taught me how to do all those too. She also loved every single thing I ever sent her in the mail since I’ve lived away, boring the neighbors with it every single time they came over. How do I know? She told me. Every single time I called.
As skydivers, we feel, perhaps more than most, that we have a massive second (or first) family in all our skydiver friends. Both the ones we jump with regularly, and the ones we’ve yet to meet. And this is totally amazing! How lucky are we, right? I mean, I moved from New York City to LA back in 2002, friendless and 3000 miles away from everything I knew, only to have 30+ new peeps the moment I got to Elsinore. Yeah, that’s just how skydiving works. And it’s awesome. If you’re a new jumper, nervous about venturing out away from your comfy home DZ, let me tell you straight up that meeting nice new people is actually quite easy. It’s our way. Just trust and give in. Fire up the engine, turn on your blinker, and head to that boogie you’ve always wanted to go to.
Sweet, a little pearl of wisdom, but honestly that’s not really what’s moving me to write this particular column. Hanging here with my Gram has me thinking, not about the million-and-one potential new friendships out there, as awesome as those all are, but about the people, right now, I love the most in this world. You know, the ones we actually care about keeping and making plans with… the ones we word vomit to when we can’t stomach our day job despite the paycheck… the ones we can talk to for an hour in nothing but inside jokes… the ones we call when our car dies cause we know they got our back and will pick our ass up… the ones we would do exactly the same for and more. Our best friends, right? At risk of sounding hokey… our chosen family.
So who are they for you? What is it about them? Is it easier to list who they are than why they make the cut? How do they make you feel? (Insert climbing-ropes-in-gym-class joke here as needed.) Seriously though, take a pause and think why your favorite people are your favorite people. Is it because they accept us for exactly who we are, despite our latest addiction to Celebrity Apprentice? Because they tell us we actually do look fat in that dress, then help us pick one that’s hot? Or the dude equivalent, “yeah that trim tape looks cool, unlike your last rig.” Or… is it because they can look us in the face through our tears and fear and tell us without question or quiver that we are in fact amazing? More importantly, coming from them, we believe it.
Great, so how do we get more of that, more of that kind of person, vibe, everything, around us? … I think it goes back to Gandhi, man… be the change you want to see in the world. As in, your world. As in, if we want more extraordinary people in our lives, we need to be extraordinary ourselves. Take responsibility for our own awesomeness, after defining what that is to each of us. Then be that. Our unique version. Start immediately. Consciously choose it. If you want friends with integrity, say you just don’t want to go when that’s the reason. If you want adventure, take the top off your Jeep and drive. If you want to have more laughs, lighten up and crack up, cause you’re right, the word poop is funny.
Who do you want at your hospital bed when you’re 80? My thinking is that project starts now. And starts with us. Then again, who knows… I’ll ask my Gram tomorrow and let you know. Melsinore, out.
Even though this article is old, it still holds true. And I think it always will.
Thank you for reading, and thank you for being you.
If we want more extraordinary people in our lives, we need to be extraordinary ourselves. Take responsibility for our own awesomeness, after defining what that is to each of us. Then be that.