For the past few days, I've been struggling to find the words to express not only my sadness and empathy for all the Tsunami victims in Asia but also my utter joy and elation over becoming a father this past year. As the new year dawns, I'm having a hard time reconciling these opposing feelings so excuse me if this entry seems somewhat disjointed.
For those of you who have been reading this parenting blog, I don't think I have to tell you that having a baby girl this past year has changed my life. Aside from my wedding day, the Peanut's birth was the single greatest day of my life. I'm absolutely crazy in love with my little 13-week old daughter. She's absolutely wonderful and I love her more than I ever thought I was capable of. If it's even possible, I think I love her more every single day. I'd kill or die for her. And if anything ever happened to her, my grief would be greater than the depths of Hades.
They say that the tsunami's death toll will easily surpass 150,000 people. Of that, it's estimated that half of the casualties are children. Even more have become orphans.
Now I'm generally one of the more optimistic people you'll ever meet. I'm cynical as hell but I've got a fairly bright outlook on life and I try to live my life to the absolute fullest. When I was 17, a drunk taxi driver slammed into my tin-can Honda, sending me into a massive tailspin and completely totalling my car. The policemen investigating the scene told me that if the point of impact had been about a foot away, I would have been crushed to death. Instead, I walked away without a scratch.
When I was 21, I was held hostage at gunpoint by a lunatic who had gone off his meds. He had a small aresenal of weapons with him and was firing them randomly. Friends on both sides of me were shot. After 4 hours, I escaped by jumping out a window. After another 4 hours, a S.W.A.T. team came in and took the guy out. Again, I walked away without a scratch.
When I was 26, I was on a business trip in Sri Lanka. I'd been there a week and decided to leave a day earlier to head back to the U.S. The day after I left, bombs were detonated at both the airport and the hotel where I had been staying. Once more, I was lucky to be alive.
So needless to say, I'm generally not one who takes life for granted. It can all be taken away so quickly. Every day, I'm grateful for being alive and for having a wonderful wife and a beautiful, healthy baby girl. Life is fucking short, my friends. Live it up. Dance naked. Carpe Diem. And like the saying goes, "don't sweat the petty things. And don't pet the sweaty things."
As I look around the blogosphere, I see a lot of posts about New Year's resolutions. Or about the kids opening their Christmas presents. And maybe fatherhood has made me a little more emotional than usual but I'm surprised more parents with children aren't viewing the tragedy in Asia and realizing just how fortunate they are. My heart goes out to all the victims. Being a new father, I'm filled with sadness at the destructiveness the tsunami has wreaked on thousands of families. I can't stop thinking about the children.
One of my best friends narrowly escaped death this past week. He and his girlfriend were supposed to be in Phuket, Thailand for vacation. They go there several times a year and always stay at the same hotel. But this year, at the last minute, they ended up changing their itinerary to Indonesia. Fortunately, when the tsunami struck, they were on the other side of the Sumatra and were unaffected. However, the hotel that they were going to stay at in Thailand was decimated. The guests who were staying in their room were killed by the tsunami.
He wrote me the following e-mail that I received two days ago...
"I wish you all a healthy and happy New Year. Please realize how lucky we all are and so fortunate to have our families, our friends and our homes. Not forgetting these blessings will be my resolution this year and I will take more time to be thankful for everything I have. It could be gone from one minute to another so we have to appreciate what we’ve been given."
I think that's the best New Year's resolution I've heard yet. So I pass it on to all of you and wish you and your families all the best for the coming year. May we all realize how lucky and fortunate we are. And in the coming year, let's remember to help those less fortunate than us.
As the ancient philospher Seneca once said, "Dum inter homines sumus, colamus humanitatem"
(As long as we are among humans, let us always be humane.)
HAPPY NEW YEAR!