June 22nd rolls around once a year. The Third Macedonian War ended on this day. Galileo was forced to recant by the Church on this day. King George V and Queen Mary were crowned on this day. Germany invaded Russia in World War II on this day. FDR signed the G.I. Bill; “Pistol” Pete Maravich, Clyde “the Glide” Drexler, Kurt Warner, Donald Faison, Champ Bailey, Carson Daly, Randy Couture and one half of the tag team “Natural Disasters,” John “Earthquake” Tenta, were all born on June 22. Sadly, George Carlin, Judy Garland, Darryl Kile, and Fred Astaire passed away on this day. As the title of the post says, June 22 isn’t just about me.
But I’m not here to compare myself with some of the best in their fields. Champ Bailey was the premier shutdown cornerback in the NFL following Deion Sanders and before Nnamdi Asomugha. Warner has 2 NFL MVPs and a Super Bowl title (with my hometown St. Louis Rams). George Carlin and Fred Astaire were household names. Right now, I can’t compare to that – nor should I try. What I can try to do is express my sincere gratitude and appreciation for how fortunate I’ve been not only to get another year, but how I managed to get through all of these years.
Quite frankly, I have the best family and friends I could have wanted. When I was a big bundle of nerves before a job interview, my good friends helped keep me calm and relaxed and prepared. Before I knew what friends were, I knew what family was. I was fortunate to grow up in a tight-knit extended family – my family were my friends and I learned a lot of what I knew about friendship as a kid came from my fantastic family members. I knew what it was to be loved and how to not just receive love, but to show others when you care about them and give them love. As a kid, I thought that was how most people were raised. As the old man I am now, I’m well aware of how rare my family is and how fortunate I am to be a part of it. My birthday is about them, because I’m not who I am without my colorful, great family.
I can’t forget about my friends, new and old. I can say that I have been friends with a guy for 20 years now, which blows my mind when I think about it but speaks volumes to how important my friendships are to me. Again, I’ve been fortunate to have met the men and women I consider friends. Good friends help you find yourself, and I know I wouldn’t be the person I am now without the great people who gave me the pleasure of their friendship. I have planned to write a book about my family’s funny stories, but my short story, “The Chronicles of the Black Pack,” is based on my friends. Anybody who has seen me and my friends sit around and kick it can read any part of the Chronicles (all 6 parts are on this blog) and picture my buddies and I doing and saying the same type of stuff. Without my friends to bounce ideas off of and ask questions to, I’d likely be a lot more ignorant than intellectual, both literally and figuratively.
Fortunate. Blessed. Lucky. However you say it, those words describe me as I look back. In the past 7 years alone, I’ve done a lot of walking around solo in rough areas, traveling, exploring, and encountered so many colorful characters in the world…and haven’t had anything too bad happen to me. It could have been bad – I know people who’ve been robbed walking the streets I walked, or there are plenty of memorials and shootings in a spot that I’m around, for example. I’m just happy I could see another year and that my year went well. This was the year of the drive, because I certainly lived on the road (mostly I-55). And for all of my interstate driving I’ve never had a problem on the road, and I know people who have had serious accidents on the highway. Again, I don’t care how you say it, things could be much worse for me and I’m happy with how things have turned out.
Hopefully I have made my loved ones proud. To me, it all begins and ends with family and friends, which is why my birthday isn’t just about me. It’s about the people who have helped shape and mold me into the man I’m growing up to be. Those of you who are reading this, know that you have my gratitude for being in my life, even if it was for just a season.