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Leadership Thought #311 – Both Time and Relationships Are Finite

March 5, 2012

Amazon.com: The Way [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2 Import - United Kingdom ]: Martin Sheen, Deborah Kara Unger, James Nesbitt, Tchéky Karyo, Ángela Molina, Simón Andreu, Eusebio Lázaro, Emilio Estevez, Yorick van

Life comes down to the quality of your relationships, especially the close ones.

I watched an interesting movie last night called The WayIt was written and directed by Emilio Estevez and stars his father, Martin Sheen.  In the movie a strait-laced taciturn father must cope with the loss of his 40-year-old free-spirited son.  The tragic event took place while he was beginning a spiritual trek on “The Way of St. James” or “Camino de Santiago” which is an 800-kilometer pilgrimage (hike) through France and Spain to the burial place of Saint James.  The father decides to complete the journey his son started and learns a lot about himself and life along the way.  As with most of his acting roles, it was a powerful and thoughtful performance by Martin Sheen.

Sadly, the last words between the father and son were not positive. The relationship was strained but it was also important because they only had each other due to the loss of the wife/mother. These were two independent-minded people who clearly needed each other but couldn’t find a way to make peace with their differences.  It’s quite sad how much damage that pride, judgment, and misunderstanding create in life. It’s important to always remember that what has been said in anger or frustration can’t be taken back.  Physical and emotional wounds, unless properly treated, tend to heal slowly and scar badly.  Life is not a Hollywood movie and there is no assurance of a happy conclusion.

Love means accepting the other person for who they are and not trying to mold or change them into who you want them to be.  As a family member or close friend, your job is to be there for them when they stumble and/or need encouragement and support.  People are individuals and eventually must chart and follow their own journey.  Never knowingly make it too hard for someone close to you to be their authentic self around you.  Trying to convince another adult person to conform to your views of how they should live their life only creates resistance and hinders the strength of the relationship.  And unless they are putting themselves or another person in harm’s way through aberrant or dangerous behavior, who are you to sit in judgment anyway?  Many of us are far too quick to rush to judgment.

In our current world of rampant divorce and disposable adult relationships, unconditional love is hard to come by, but it should be the rule not the exception between parent and child.  Our job as parents is to equip our children with the moral/ethical foundation to properly navigate the twists and turns of life.  We also should encourage their independence and self-confidence to be true to themselves, especially when this is not easy to do.  The reality is that our kids will grow up, make their own choices, and deal with the consequences.  When things don’t go as planned or they stumble, we can make it hard or easy for them to reach out to us and share the mutual experience of being human.  My favorite quote from the movie is “…you don’t choose a life, you live one.”  Both time and relationships are finite.  There is nothing any of us can do to change this fact.  However, while we are here and connected let’s try and make the most of the experience and minimize our opportunities for remorse and regret before it’s too late.