Sunday, March 4, 2012

Holding ourselves back - part III (or the best day ever)

One of my best friends is Jay Johnson. I say is, but the truth is that Jay passed away a few years ago. Jay's funeral was well-attended by many people who loved and cherished him, because how could you not love Jay? He was the kindest, most sincere person I have ever met.

Jay was a vibrant, happy young adult with down syndrome. Although he had physical and mental impairments, he lived a happy life that inspired and still inspires everyone who knew him.

Once you spent a few minutes with Jay, you were friends for life. And not just friends, but best friends. Unlike you or me, Jay had hundreds of best friends, because all of his friends were best friends. I can remember occasions when, just after saying, "Michael, you're my best friend," Jay turned to the person next to me and said the exact same thing! For Jay, there was no gradation of friends. All were equally special.

At his funeral, Jay's father related a story that took place over a few days. One day, if memory serves me, they were out camping when Jay said, "Dad, this is the best day ever." His dad was happy, knowing that his son so happy. A few days later, Jay and his dad went out to see a movie. In the car, Jay turned to his dad and said, "Dad, this is the best day ever." This time, his dad laughed and said, "Jay, what do you mean? You said that the other day was the best day ever! How can this be the best day ever too?" In his sweet, special way, Jay shrugged and said, "it just is, Dad."

The programs at the funeral had a picture of Jay, sitting at a picnic table with a huge, warm smile on his face. Underneath the picture was the caption, "This is the best day ever." When I first saw the program I thought it was a little strange for a funeral program, but after hearing his father's story, the words took on deep emotional meaning. These words needed to be here, because this was Jay's message for his friends.

We spend so much time and energy ranking things from best to worst, and we only reserve one spot for that which is "best." How much happier could we be if we allowed every friend and every act of love to be the best? Treating every person as our best friend, or living every day like the best day ever does not cheapen what it means to be best, but it does enrich our lives.

Throw away your rankings, and maybe, like Jay, you will find that all around you are best friends, made or waiting to be made. Maybe, like Jay, you will see that every moment has the potential to be the best moment in your life.

It's not ignorance. It's seeing truthfully how things can really be.


Erin Mumford said...

Thanks for posting, Mike. I needed to read this

Michael Wood said...

Thanks for reading. :) Also, congrats on getting into pharmacy school! Send Travis my congratulations.