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It’s Saturday morning. Late. Pushing noon. And I’ve got some work to do. Computer work. Website updates. Video editing. Some voice work. General catching up.
I usually do one of two things: a) fire up my iTunes library and don the headphones to listen to whatever strikes my fancy at the moment or b) I fire up the TV here inside The Yellow Studio and find something to watch (well, more accurately, something to be on in the background). Insomnia usually provokes music. Saturday mornings usually provoke TV. Especially during college football season.
Today, I go to Amazon Prime because I’ve been meaning to watch the Val Kilmer documentary, VAL. The one about his life.
My Val Kilmer fandom centers around The Saint. It’s a 1997 movie with Elizabeth Shue. I’m a big fan of hers, too – thanks to that movie. It’s one of the few movies I bought on DVD. I still have it.
I launch the documentary, with subtitles on so I can kinda sorta keep up while doing other things. But within minutes I stop doing anything else. I’m intently watching this thing, narrated by his son because Val recovered from throat cancer which left him unable to speak without the aid of a vibrator attached to his neck.
I Google him because I don’t know how old he is. He’s 61. I’m 64. It’s impossible not to make comparisons. Especially when it comes to health.
He confesses that he was the first person he ever knew to have a video camera. And he used it. A lot. All the time. So much so, that he has boxes and boxes and boxes of videotapes he’s shot through the years. And writings. And scrapbooks. Material chronicling his life, a story he desperately wants to tell. But now he’s not got the voice for it. His son does. A son who looks and sounds like him.
Deep into the movie he’s sobbing as he puts a large necklace belonging to his deceased mother around his neck. Her absence still hits him hard.
His mother divorced his dad when Val was 8. Repeated infidelities took their toll on her. His dad, a real estate developer, wanted to be among the largest landowners in California. So much so that his dad, at one point unable to get a loan, asked Val to co-sign on some massive land deals. Val agreed. He said, without hesitation. Even gave his dad power of attorney, which his father used to form 20 or more shell companies to avoid paying taxes. Until it finally caught up with him.
Facing the prospect of suing his own father or writing a check that would exhaust his personal wealth, Val said:
I wrote the check and went to work.
Should he have? I’m sure many think he should have kept his money and refused to bail out his unscrupulous father. But it was his money to do with as he wanted. From the sound of it, he didn’t deliberate much. He wrote the check, then got back to work to earn more money.
Don’t worry about the money you’re not making. Besides, you’ll earn more.
Focusing On Our Loss & Lack
It’s easy to dwell on our losses and what we don’t have. Easier when the losses and lack are extensive, but it’s not helpful. Okay, it might be helpful if your stupidity contributed to the loss – you wanna make sure you learn not to repeat the mistake. I know ’cause I’ve got a litany of such errors in my wake. The most expensive of them was $50,000. I gave it to a person I thought was a friend. It’s a long story I’d rather forget, but every now and again it bubbles back up and irks me to no end. Mostly, because I was duped by a man who I thought I could trust. I was wrong! He was unscrupulous, dishonest, and a consummate liar. I was stupid! Really…really…really stupid.
But I learned. I’ve not “invested” money with anybody since. I give people money if I can afford to and want to – with no expectation to get it back. Ever. I don’t loan money. Period. I’d never make it as a venture capitalist. 😀 For starters, I’m too poor. For another, I hate losing money.
See what I mean? Focusing on losses stirs up nothing positive! I mean this happened to me many years ago and it still stings even though I absolutely learned my lesson.
Thinking about this compelled me to just now texted the man who “stole” my money. When he asked for it, he promised he’d return it with a reasonable return. He never returned it, even when I told him I didn’t care about any return. I was nice. I was polite. Then I got assertive. Then aggressive. Then I had an attorney draft a letter to him. Nothing.
I think he’s dead, but I’m not sure. I just texted, “Curious how you’re doing?” The person on the other end just replied, “Who is this?” I told them my name and said, “…a blast from the past.” They replied, “Wrong number.” No way to know really.
See what happens when you focus on what you don’t have? You get distracted and it serves no useful purpose. I don’t feel the least little bit better for having remembered my $50K loss.
It’s much wiser to focus on our good favor, fortune, and blessings. For example, I could afford to lose $50K. It wasn’t (still isn’t) an insignificant amount, but it didn’t impact my life. So that’s good.
And it in no way impacts all the great things I’ve got to be thankful for. So I’m best served by letting it go. I mean, if the guy who broke his word and kept the money is dead, well, I’m not impacting him by dwelling on it. And if he’s alive, I’m still not impacting him by getting worked up about it. I’m only hurting myself.
I often use road rage to illustrate the same thing. Somebody cuts us off in traffic and we’re outraged. We can behave foolishly and speed up, tailgate them – or something worse. Really stupid. Or we can just fuss and fume thinking the worst. In either case, we do more injury to ourselves than them. They’re unconcerned about us, completely unaware of how we’re feeling about them (unless we ride their bumper and behave like an idiot).
Who are we hurting here? We’re hurting ourselves. Nobody else gets hurt. So why do we do it?
Because it’s hard to let things go. It can be difficult to write the check and go to work. Maybe by talking about it, and thinking about it we can grow our determination to behave more wisely.
Writing the check can also represent doing the right thing no matter what.
It’s admirable, but something we often wish we didn’t have to do. And we don’t. Have to do it, that is.
Anybody can do the right thing when nothing is on the line. Or when it suits us best.
The best among us do the right thing all the time. Regardless of the circumstances, situation or consequences.
Pride and selfishness are often the culprits. We want what we want and if we have to give something up to do the right thing…we hesitate. Or not. We just refuse. Situations sometimes overpower what we know is right.
I’ve been somewhat fixated on Val’s statement because it represents so much. And over time I realize it has much to do with regret, bitterness, and failing to move past our mistakes. I don’t want those things to characterize me. And betrayal isn’t something I want to focus on.
As Tom Petty sang, “It’s time to move on. It’s time to get going.”