Just recently, I went into my phone with hopes of cleaning up imagery that has been bogging down my photo collection (You know you have to clean yours up as well, right??) After meticulously creating folders and backing up my phone to save these precious memories, I found myself getting caught up in wonderful scrolls down memory lane. Indelible moments that just made my heart sing flashed across my screen with each click and I realized how much I had done over the past few years. With every image I grew more thankful, if not wistful.
As I dug deeper and deeper and the months kept rewinding, I came across images that I failed to remember how great their impact was. That impact inspired me to share this story and a few of those images.
In the summer of 2020 I found myself in the same place as countless millions of others. I was in between successes and thinking about my next move. The world was upside down, my family was struggling to keep our small business afloat, my career was in flux and my wife, Lisa and I were trying to not only balance what our future looked like, but also remain in the present for those who desperately needed us. My son was 2000 miles away and my daughters were navigating through their own challenges as schools were closed and our only oasis was our home and in the safety of each other's arms.
During that time I found that taking a mental break from the stress and nonstop teleconferencing that we all endured was a welcomed escape. Luckily, living in California at the time, I had the benefit of perfect weather to not hinder my daily stay-cations. I would lace up my sneaks and walk to the same spot everyday where I would read, meditate, or simply grab a breath of fresh air and regroup as best I could.
The walk to the San Jose Rose Garden, my place of choice, took about 10 minutes max from the second I stepped foot outside my front door to the moment I arrived in the bountiful rows of rose bushes that led to a magical open space flanked by my favorite trees; redwoods. I tended to walk the same route every day and if I went anytime after 10am, the sun was shining and the haze had burned off leaving the sky with the smallest traces of clouds if any (FYI, all Californians know the sun doesn’t show in the state until 10am regardless.)
Along that route on this particular day, the sun was stronger than expected and I didn’t have a hat or sunglasses to shade me. I remember distinctly speaking out loud to myself saying, “damn, I could really use some sunblock right now!” After it came out of my mouth, I recall laughing a little… first off because I was talking to myself, and secondly because protection was needed, however it dawned on me that there was so much more than just my skin that needed to be safe guarded.
The three letters rang throughout my head the entire day. SPF. I needed some protection from the sun, but what if I needed much more than the normal protection? What if I needed SPF for my soul… my heart… my mind? What would SPF be for those key pieces of me and more importantly, those in my life? It was clear as day at that moment, and the acronym took on 3 new words. Those words were Strength, Patience, and Faith. Strength, Patience, and Faith to make sure I would be protected through everything that might be coming or shelter from the residuals of what my family and I had already experienced.
As I walked, I thought. Strength, Patience, and Faith…
I don’t ask for much in this world, but I often ask for the Strength to push forward, to endure heavy shots and find my way to my feet afterwards. The Strength to make the decisions that are tough and do so with a smile, because my deeds affect not only me, but those who dearly rely on me.
I also ask for Patience. Patience with those who try my soul, those who did me wrong, those who need more time and empathy as they find their own way. Patience to be a supportive dad, loving husband, a needed friend, a mindful son, and a caring brother. Patience to accept that things don’t happen to us, but for us. I recently heard that to be impatient is to be disrespectful. Patience is a better choice.
Lastly, Faith. Faith is something that is felt with strong conviction without evidence of its existence. I ask for Faith in powers higher than I. Faith that actions I take are meaningful and will lead my family and I in the right direction. Faith that I may not always be in control of everything in my life, but that things will turn out right despite that fact.
So the moral of the story is, dig through your phone and unearth a moment of perspective. It may not be one that is flowery or posed, but as my favorite fictional inspiration once said “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.” Find an image that creates introspection or whatever gives you fuel to have the strength, patience, and faith to keep moving forward when, at times, its the most difficult thing to achieve.