I was talking with a young man the other day. In his mid 20’s, he’s a nice young man with a promising future. We talked about financial matters, family matters and work matters. We’re both at different places in our lives now. I’m sort of in the 3rd quarter, possibly 4th (who knows?). But I’m still running to the end zone, just many, many yards ahead of him.  He’s in the 2nd quarter, not even at his halftime.

As my beard has whitened and my hair has given up and left me, I’ve had several young men begin to ask me questions about life.  I am flattered by that. I’m always willing to share, advise, reflect, listen and laugh with them as long as they NEVER call me Mr. Mark. Their kids, yes. Them? No. They’re grown men. But Mr. Mark is another blog.

One thing that I always advise these young men, and both of my kids as well, is to ‘have fun’. One young man will text me sometimes just to say that he and his new wife are ‘having fun’.  I love it. That sounds like simple advice, but having fun is one of the most important and overlooked things in life.

Because people, life is quick! That’s been said so many times and it’s just as true as it is scorching hot this summer in Tennessee.

I hate to say it but this generation can be downright boring. Everything is gray, white and safe. For Pete’s sake, guys paint something red.

They don’t dance. They go out to eat. Kids, don’t act old yet! Old comes very quickly! Be young! Be adventurous. Be brave!

When my young wife and I were just married about a year, I was invited to be in a wedding in Houston. My mind started danced with visions of a trip like you’ve never believed. We were going to go to Houston, in my little truck and pull a little popup tent camper and camp along the way. Now don’t forget that this little 2 seater Toyota didn’t have any air conditioning and was a straight shift. And it had plastic seat covers. But my young 22-year-old mind was convinced that this was going to be an adventure of a lifetime and indeed it was.

She and I planned and mapped out our dreams on an Atlas and prepped food to take with us. Back then, my mom wouldn’t go to even Nashville without a cooler stuffed with ice/Cokes and pimento and cheese sandwiches wrapped in wax paper. So we readied our adventure as best we knew and left out for Houston, Texas one morning with our little camper in tow behind us.

But I had decided ON THE WAY to Houston, that we’d RUN BY the Rocky Mountains? That’s not even remotely close. But I dreamed big back then and wasn’t afraid. And my wife trusted me to make this dream work.

However, our youthful dream of going to the Rockies was quickly shattered when the Yota had a wheel bearing go out in Missouri. We ended up in a car rental and hanging out in St. Louis for a fun time. Fortunately, the costs of the repairs were covered under warranty. As soon as the truck was ready, we hooked back up and headed to Houston. We arrived there and then decided we’d go camp on the beach in Galveston. Again, she followed the dream with me.

Setting up camp on the beach, she wasn’t sure because there were gale wind warnings out, but nah, my dream included camping in a tent camper on wheels on the beach. I told her it’d be romantic to camp on the beach. 🙂

Setting up camp on the sand by the ocean, the wind whipped us around as the gulls sat still in mid-air on strong currents. When my sweet wife cried over the sand in the steaks that we had iced and hauled from Tennessee (like Texas wouldn’t have steaks?), it was decided that it was time to leave that dream and dream about a hotel, air conditioning and a warm shower.

But when I removed the huge ice chest ballast from the camper, the tent was still up and not hooked back up to the truck yet. Thusly, in the strong winds, the camper set sail down the beach towards the ocean with my young screaming bride in it.  After I stopped laughing, I ran to fetch her and the camper, but only after all of our stuff blew out. Some fellow campers rescued us and helped us get our stuff back.

So you see, even though the dream didn’t work out as planned, we were brave. In the storm, we had fun. We discovered us another dream.

We danced in our life.

So, on my birthday today, I’m glad that I have been brave enough in my life to dance. I didn’t care if it wasn’t a good dance. I didn’t care if it was not always wise. (dancing in chairs at the Waterhole).

I didn’t care if I danced perfectly in this life.

And although I didn’t know I even had hips to get sore until a few months ago, I’m still dancing and dreaming myself through life.   If I made that final sprint today and reached over and touched the ball into the end zone, I can say that it’s been a most beautiful life.

So, on my 56th birthday today, I can offer this advice that’s suitable for any age;

It’s not the fact of if we danced well,

it’s the fact that in this one amazing and extraordinary life,

we danced when we could.

That’s the best that I can tell about it,