Be Like James : Lessons From A Dearly Missed Friend

Picture your dream home.

Now picture your outdoor space.

Imagine I have contracted a landscaper that is going to build you a fire pit.  Complete with retaining walls, gardens, end tables for your glass of wine, and those long backed adirondack chairs.

Don’t get me wrong, you are going to flip the bill, I am not paying for the landscaper.

But the finished product will be all yours to enjoy.

I just need you to pick out a spot in your yard and we can get started.

So have you picked a spot?

If you are anything like me I can see the spot you picked. In the backyard, maybe close to and nestled in with some trees.  A private space where you can invite “the good friends over” to laugh the night away, enjoy a glass of wine or cuddle with your partner, where you can spend a summer night roasting marshmallows with the kids.

That space you are imagining my friend James built it and all those moments you imagined in that space he did those too; With one simple difference.

He built it in his front yard. No he does not live without neighbors in the country either. He lives in a thriving busy subdivision.

K29

This is James sitting in that space a couple years ago.

Today he would have been 46 years old. We lost him 2 years ago after he spent 4 years battling cancer. That space is still there in his front yard and highlights one of the most admirable qualities you and I can learn from James.

James was a busy successful family man but he always made time to focus on what was most important, RELATIONSHIP.

One morning a couple years ago James who was running his business and suffering through the cancer treatments sent me a text. “HEY BRO!!!! Tea?”  I accept the invite and as I pulled into his driveway there he was sitting in the front yard. We joked, we laughed, we had some serious conversations too. Every once and awhile a neighbour would pass by and James would call out to them by name. “YO! YO! How’s it going?”

As we wrapped up our conversation, James asked where I was heading. Then he proceeded to tell me he was heading down to a BIG meeting in an hour. He would be presenting a proposal to a large company. I thought oh wow and hastily stood up with a sense of urgency, I talked too long, he has this big meeting, he needs to prepare, he needs time, I better get out of here.

James stood up casually and said “hey thanks for the visit, what’s the rush?” I asked him “well aren’t you nervous you have to present in an hour, I can’t believe you invited me over for tea.”

He casually shrugged and reached over to pat me on the back and give me a hug.

That moment has sat with me.

That day, if I were James, I would not have texted a friend for coffee. Not before a big meeting like that and a fight like cancer on my plate.

Instead I would be sitting in that chair in that comfortable isolated space I built in the backyard. Doing what you ask? Worrying, planning, and worrying. With whom you ask? By myself.

In your life today “Where are you sitting?”

Your dream house the one I asked you to picture, there is no sense in it. Not if you are going to sit in your backyard alone, worrying.

We have all become too busy for what really matters.

While you are sitting in your backyard trying to control and manage every detail of your life, you are missing out on the relationships and experiences sitting around the fire pit in your front yard.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” Mathew 16:25

Whether you are able to admit it or not your heart’s greatest desire is relationship. Our worry has no value it just robs us of what matters most, the present.

When I worry, I spent less time with God, I shift my wife, my kids, my friends to another “less busy” day.

I withdraw,

I isolate,

I actually accomplish nothing.

There I sit in the backyard of my life. While James with much more to worry about built a space in his life for the things that mattered he built it right there smack dab in the middle of his front yard. I am not saying he did not worry he worried. But time and time again he chose to not let worry steal lives best moments from him.

James lived 44 FULL years. His cancer was not the catalyst that brought about his priority for relationship. His value for meaningful relationship was always there. When I met him at 16 years old, I was a shy awkward teen lacking a lot of confidence. James, treated me like he treated everyone else.

James invited people in, whatever went on in his life you could always find him right there with his legs up in the front yard and he would always offer you a seat.

Stop using your “too busy” as an excuse. James was busy and James never did. He always made time and he always had fun.

I once left a clipboard in a bag that belong to James.  He kept texting me to come pick it up. I kept saying ok, I will come and get it, I don’t need it right away.

He kept texting.

So I picked it up with a bunch of other stuff that I needed from him. It was not until later that night that I unpacked the bag to find my clipboard. My clipboard that James’ had enhanced.

clipboard

 

James was killing himself laughing when I called him.  He said you know I may have cancer but I have been working out, just show people pictures of how buff I have been getting and I can be your poster boy. They will be lining up to personal train with you so they can “Be Like James”

This clip board that James gave me as a joke, now sits above my desk on the wall as a reminder to “be like James” and pursue meaningful relationship today!

happy birthday

10 comments for “Be Like James : Lessons From A Dearly Missed Friend

  1. Lesli
    29 April, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Thank you for sharing such an impactful story!

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  2. Cathy
    29 April, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    Wow – love it! You always make me stop and think about life! Very inspirational.

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  3. Lindy O
    30 April, 2014 at 2:39 am

    That was a reality check and a very honest and beautiful story. James would be extremely happy and proud that you wrote this and more importantly that you live your life as you do and share your learning with others. Good on you Ira! I’m sure James is giving you the wink, thumbs up and tongue out face right now!

  4. 30 April, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    Thank you for this article – James was a remarkable man.

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  5. Carol & Helmut Sakwi
    1 May, 2014 at 2:42 am

    You said it well. Thank you for sharing. James always had boundless energy and a big heart! And you knew he really cared about you, even if you were just his little old aunty and uncle in an itty bitty town and another province away. He always took the time to call and to really listen. Thanks for sharing your writing and thoughts of him.

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  6. Jodi Wood
    1 May, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    Well written Ira! Thanks for this reminder! Happy Birthday James!

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  7. 29 April, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    Thank you Ira for reminding us to live in the moment and be present for those around us. Your friendship with James was unique and special. I am grateful that you shared this memory.

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    • cornerstonefitnesstv
      30 April, 2016 at 12:18 am

      You are welcome. James was top notch! Made everybody feel important or significant.

  8. Al Schriver
    29 April, 2017 at 6:59 pm

    Awesome… thanks for sharing Ira! I still have the 9mm bullet casing James gave me… “Take the shot” he’d say… cheers to “good friends”

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    • cornerstonefitnesstv
      29 April, 2017 at 8:53 pm

      Your welcome, Cheers, Al

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