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Stay Strong !

Facebook post 2 November 2021

Today is my last day as a 54 year old. And since I figure I’ll live to 110 years, then tomorrow must be my life’s halfway mark. Congratulations Louis, you’ve made it this far!

To celebrate, I thought it would be fun to compare today’s me with yesterday’s me. Since I like to workout, I was smiling when I found this 30 year old photo of me flexing my biceps. I remember that young man. He was just starting University, and working extra to pay his student loans. He was a bit rough around the edges but still a gentle person deep inside. I remember how he liked to make people happy. That’s probably what helped him through the tough days, because he himself would feel terribly lonely at times.

He longed for a family. (If he could have seen into the future, how happy he would have been.) Friends around him got married, and everyone seemed to ”find” someone. But no one found him. A heavy feeling of unwantedness lingered over him. Thousands of old fans might protest that notion, but… well, you know… to them he wasn’t a real person. Not really. He just wanted to be loved for who he was. Yes, of course, many people would say that he was a nice person. But niceness is seldom a ticket to the wedding aisle. The girls around him wanted something more.

But looking at this old photo, I remember his stubbornness. He wasn’t gonna give in. He wasn’t going to sit down and wallow in self pity. He wanted to flex his muscles and show the world - but I think mostly to himself - what he was made of. He made up his mind to stay strong.

So he went to the gym with some close friends, trying to improve just a little bit every time (the bench press record kept moving up). He stayed active in church, and often found comfort in the scriptures. He took his studies seriously. He challenged himself on endurance races. He wrote more music. He tried to help others whenever he could. And yes, he tried to date.

To be honest, he was never the best at anything he did. But that was never his plan. He just wanted to relish life and DO his best, and that mostly meant taking small steps, improving a little at a time, enjoying each moment he was in. Being persistent, that’s how he stayed strong.

When I look at the old photo and compare it with a new one I took today, I do see some changes (and I don’t mean the hair) but it’s nothing monumental. I am not a bulking tower compared to my old self. It’s still me. Yes, I have improved a little. I am a little bit stronger. A little bit more patient, I think. Maybe a little bit more humble (I don’t take anything for granted). A little bit more believing. Maybe a little bit nicer. And hopefully a little bit more wiser.

Speaking of which, if I could wrap up this rant with some wise almost-55-year-old-midlife-advice it would be this: Stay strong! Meaning, stay on the path. Do the little things, but do them often and well. Seek to improve from one day to the next. You don’t have to break any world records, just move forward one foot at a time. Sure, you will have setbacks. - and if your body says no sometimes, please listen to it - but the thing I love about life is that it always seems to give you many second chances.

The only thing you don’t need to hold back and do "a little" of is LOVE. Please, feel free to set as many world records as you can. And just to be clear, I am talking about the love of God and our fellow men. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Jesus said that. He knew a thing or two about staying strong. We would do well to follow his advice. For my next 55 years, that’s what I’ll work more at.

Love and appreciation, Brother Louis

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