Sophie and I were in Amsterdam for two days in the beginning of last week …. (easy 90 minute direct flight from Nice)
Our last night there, we had dinner with a close friend of ours who wanted to (as he put it) “share someone special with you guys” and to introduce us to his best friend since childhood, Henry.
Our friend is in his late 50’s so I assume his friend is also in his late 50s or early 60s.
The dinner was at our friends home which is an hour gorgeous drive outside Amsterdam.
Henry met us at the door when we arrived, and treated Sophie and I as if we were his special guests.
He was extremely well dressed, the best dressed out of everyone. He walked with a cane, but he walked so smoothly, I wondered if he really needed the cane or not.
I sat next to him at dinner and spent most of the evening with him because he had a lot of interest in discussing my vegan diet, ironman training and my other adventures, especially my swim across the English channel.
Throughout the evening he smiled and radiated happiness — he didnt say anything which was remotely negative.
I assumed by the way he carried himself he was in great health – to be honest, I never even considered his health.
Henry made us all laugh with his jokes and happy go lucky demeanor during the dinner.
We talked a lot about my swim across the English channel – he showed so much interest in my swim that I invited him to come on the crew boat which will go with me as I attempt the swim in September.
But he said with a big grin on his face: “I might have an important trip to take before” and pretended to look through his diary which he had in his sports jacket pocket…. Henry and our friend laughed a lot at this joke. I didn’t understand what was so funny and assumed he just didn’t want to go.
After dinner, we all sat around talking until around midnight – maybe Sophie and I got back to our hotel by 1:30am … we talked about Henry the entire drive back to the hotel.
I really looked forward to seeing him again.
Early yesterday morning… around 6 am, Giovanna (my 6 year old) and I walked down to the boulangerie (baker) near my home in La Turbie to get fresh bread for breakfast.
The weather was perfect – but the first thing the woman behind the counter said to me, even before the perfunctory “bonjour” was: “it’s hot….”
I never pay attention to this senesless negativity, ordered my bread, paid and left … on the walk back home Giovanna asked me: “papa why did that woman say it’s hot … it’s not hot at all. It’s still dark outside.”
(in French its much funnier)
I explained to Giovanna that most probably the woman had nothing else to say, and to fill the space she says “it’s hot.”
Giovanna mumbled to herself something in French about the woman being ridiculous… (even a 6 year old understands)
Maybe 15 minutes later ….
After Gio and I had made our toast together and taken Sophie her breakfast, I sat down in my chair with my coffee & toast and logged onto my computer which opened with facebook.
I do not promote my blog on facebook, thus I am not sure if and how many of the 91 friends I have on FB read this blog …so I am not sure whose feelings I might be hurting, but….
The first several “status updates” by various friends, most of whom I have not seen since high school, are all negative comments or ramblings.
a few examples:
“I don’t want to go to work tomorrow!!!”
“ I ate too much ice cream!”
“I woke up in the middle of the night and could not fall back to sleep WTF”
“my kids have to go to the doctor tomorrow…”
“I feel sick, maybe I have food poisoning?”
As I am wadding through the muck of moaning, negativity … thinking to myself: “what is the use of telling your friends you dont want to go to work…”??? Sophie comes down stairs with her mobile phone in her hand and tells me with a dazed look on her face: “Henry died last night.”
My first response was “who is Henry?” … but as soon as the question came out, I remembered he’s the nice man we had dinner with less than a week ago.
A man whom I just enjoyed a dinner with less than 6 days ago died???
We later learned that Henry had terminal cancer and knew he was going to die very soon –but he remained a beacon of positivity focused on the good in life, so positive and upbeat — we now understand what our friend meant by “I want to share someone special with you.”
Sophie went back up stairs and I looked back down at my laptop …. and went back to reading through all the whining, moaning…. status updates by various friends of mine.
Then I thought of my grandparents….
My Grandmother is 88 years old and my Granddad is 94 years old. In my entire life, I have never once heard them say a negative word — never once have I heard them say “its hot” “i am tired” “i dont feel good” etc. I have never heard them complain or say a negative word about anyone or anything. Surely, their positivity is why they have lived such long fullfilled lives.
Perfectly stoic and focused on the positives in life, very much like Henry.
Henry had terminal cancer — Instead of spending the rest of his time feeling sorry for himself, he made the most of it – and remained positive until the end, celebrating life.
It puts things into a perspective.
… meeting someone who knows he has terminal cancer; knows he is going to die very soon, but remains positive and upbeat until the end (doesn’t even tell you he is sick)….at least for me, this person is very inspiring.
The world we live in today…
all the moaning, complaining, feel sorry for ourselves platforms …
Seriously — notice today how many people bitch about something; how many people focus on something negative vs how many people focus on something positive.
Why has the world become this way?
Why do so many people go through life feeling sorry for themselves?
…..unfortunately, I didn’t ask Henry if he knew where John Galt is living.