Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Reflections from the Home Team
August 16, 2016

“How lucky I am to have something that
makes saying goodbye so hard…” Pooh

Greetings from Cedar Falls!

I wanted to take a few moments to share a few thoughts since my last reflection in April.  A year of change, new beginnings and saying goodbye…. all wrapped up into one for me this past year… I’ll begin by providing an update on my health situation. Have had a few bumps in the road the past few months with lab readings and a cyst that appeared on one of my kidneys.  So far, all seems stable and my doctors are monitoring both, so I feel comfortable all is in good hands.

As for retirement, how lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard! For the first time in 40 years, I haven’t been a part of the opening of a school year. Yes, I miss the students and staff who have been a part of this time of the year.  Always knew I would… however, I’ve had the opportunity to fill that void by spending time with both of my beautiful granddaughters Grace and Lucy. Brings back memories of my own three kids when they were that age.  Also reminds me as I watch them parent that “the expert in anything was once a beginner”.  That concept truly applies for me in a number of ways. I recall being a “beginner” as a student/athlete, a parent, a teacher, a coach, an administrator, and yes, as a cancer survivor. Experiencing all those “journeys” certainly makes me no expert, but it does allow me the option of sharing what I’ve learned along the way as part of my “new beginning” in retirement. 

Over the past 40 years, I’ve discovered that the secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new. For me, 2016 is the beginning of anything I choose!  I am choosing to stay within the community of Cedar Falls, a place that I have come to know and love for many, many years. I plan to stay involved with scouting, educational consulting and volunteering my time and/or services here in the community, and of course, spending more quality time with my family who I dearly love. To me, a perfect way to spend my retirement and share what I’ve been fortunate enough to learn over the years while giving back without having the responsibilities I had when working.

It also allows me more time to read and reflect which has been important to me as well over the years.

I just finished a profoundly moving memoir by a young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis. I his writing, he attempts to answer the question ‘What makes a life worth living?’ It’s titled When Breath Becomes Air, written by Paul Kalanithi.
At the age of thirty-six, and on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor making a living treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. Just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student, possessed “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life.”
What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? These are some of the questions Paul wrestles with in his book.  Many of the questions he asks were the same questions I asked myself when faced with my cancer diagnosis. Interestingly, his insights also provided some good thoughts about how to make life meaningful, not only with the adjustments that are made as a cancer patient, but also with the adjustments we make when we pursue a “new beginning” in retirement.

Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book. His words will live on as a guide and a gift to us all. In his book, Paul quoted seven words from Samuel Beckett that he began repeating in his head once diagnosed with terminal cancer: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’” I’ve often felt the same, and it’s comforting to know others also summon the drive to go on despite all odds seemingly going against us. When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.

To close, I’m excited about this “new” beginning in my life, and I’m hopeful my experiences will help make me an “expert” in helping make it meaningful for others on their life’s journey. As you travel the new beginnings in each of your lives, remember… “The expert in anything was once a beginner”. 

Sending my love to each of you as you head into fall and your own new beginnings. I’ve shared a couple special parts of my new beginning below.

Sincerely, Dave



Link to: Reflections from the Home Team BLOG

Link to Vimeo: Reflections from the "Home Team"... Go the Distance

Link to: Tommy Emmanuel and "Angelina"