I certainly needed the perspective…
Long day. Meetings with customers all over the DC area. And then I had to be in Philly for tomorrow’s meetings. I just drove up for a clean three hours. All thru the day, I have been worried about my father in law who is going thru the rehabilitation process at home after his hip surgery. I probably have called up Sharmila to check on them to a point that she is irritated.
I walked into downtown Philly Marriott completely tired and sleepy and as I was checking in, I noticed that the whole hotel was buzzing with activities. Not too uncommon for a downtown big Marriott. What was uncommon is the number of people milling around in wheelchairs.
I was not too sure what to make of it. But as I went into the elevator to take me to my floor, I ran into one more of the wheelchair folks. So I asked him if he was there an event. I learnt that he was there for the Annual Disabled Veterans’ sporting event. First, I had no idea there was such an event. Second, I was not going to bed then and there. I needed to learn more.
So, I changed into my casuals and came down. And started interviewing all the folks in wheelchairs. And asked them if it was okay to put their pictures on my blogsite. To the person, they all said Yes. But more importantly, they asked after my family, my daughters and my life story.
Some of the life stories I heard from these Iraq, Afghanistan and even Vietnam and Korean War Veterans are to truly die for. For example, take the two guys in the top picture. They found out a few events back that they grew up in the same neighborhood in Arkansas. As they put it “we knew common folks when we were still walking”. WOW!!! “Still Walking” can be a phase in life….. That is the thought that was going thru my mind.
Going back to them again, ever since, every event they make it a point to find each other and spend some endless hours together. It is not always easy. A trip like this costs them $2100 per person. They rely a lot on VA and private sponsorship. Next year this event is in Dallas. Which is where my daughters were born. I owe a lot of my happiness in life to that place and this country. So, I figured, I might as well sponsor both of them for next year to meet in Dallas.
Some of the words people spoke were to be heard to be believed. That Steelers fan in yellow shirt in the bottom picture? He was the most talkative of them all. We debated NFL for some time. But the best thing he told me – “I look at many people and they are in worse shape than me. I am doing good compared to them”. And I am like “Oh! God! And here I am. Worried about what I am not. Than being happy about what I am”….
And so on… For the next forty five minutes I went around talking to people and taking their pictures. Finally, I plonked down at the bar ordered a drink and started to think about what I learnt today. And write it up before I forget it….
Can’t wait to go back home tomorrow night and tell this story to my father in law…
Life is never about “what you have”. But what you “make of whatever little you have”. And yet we spend so much of our time and money to “have more”….