My uncle used to call me Bumper. I have no idea why; quite possibly because of my unique ability to run into or trip over anything, at any time. This 'gift' earned me the nickname "Helen Keller" while I was in the Coast Guard. I don’t remember a lot about my uncle, and the only real memento I have from him is a card for my birthday – or Valentine’s Day, I can't recall – that he gave me when I was very young (less than 5). It was small, about the size of a credit card, and it was hard plastic, which I thought was so cool. The card had an image of a mouse driving a VW Bug, and the message read, “I love you Bumper, XO - Bo”.
I remember going for rides on snowmobiles and motorcycles with my uncle, and I remember getting rides to school from him in his big, blue semi after my mom died. I remember he had incredibly sad eyes, and very big, strong hands. He was killed by someone that ran a stop sign. But that didn’t happen a long time ago… it happened yesterday [EN: Piece originally submitted March 30, 2017].
This is supposed to be a sort of memorial piece about my uncle, but when I sat down to write, all I got was that first paragraph.
There are foggy memories, sure. But nothing new, nothing fresh. And while I was trying to absolutely hate the person who ran the stop sign, I realized that I, too, have run stop signs. In fact, I've been running stop signs my entire life: how, then, could I hate that other person?
Sure, the stop signs I've been running aren’t on the road; I am actually a very cautious driver. No, instead they are the stop signs in life. The ones that tell us to slow down, to take a breath, to tell someone you love them, and ask them what their favorite color is. I have been living my life like a book, with a definite beginning and a definite ending in my mind, and a total acceptance of everything that happens along the way. Like with every book I have ever read, I would just nod my head and accept it what life threw at me. I've been pushing on through the pages, ignoring chapter breaks. Gotta hurry… gotta finish… can't stop. Then, after one book, it's right on to the next.
But this isn't right. It doesn't feel like how we should live our lives. Instead, I have just realized, that I need (we all need) to live life like, well... one big, magnificent RPG! Life isn’t a book. There are no set chapters, no definite beginnings or endings, other than that we are all born and will all die. And there are so many stop signs. There are so many moments in our lives where we need to stop, look, proceed with caution – or not. The point being: we need to be mindful and watch for those moments because they are so important. They are life changing.
When I put my life in perspective, thinking of it as more of an Epic Video Game, I realize that I've been playing it all wrong. I am not talking to the villagers. I am not looking for side quests. I would never ignore a treasure chest in an RPG. Ever. Nope. So how then can I ignore the treasure chests in my life, chests full of, quite possibly, what I need to survive, and have a happy ending? But somehow I've been passing over those chests my in life, my whole life. And, I’m sure, a lot of you have been skipping over the treasure chests in your lives, as well. Maybe not to such extremes – maybe more so.
Take Skyrim as an example.
I've played Skyrim for almost two years, and have yet to finish the main storyline. In perspective, I read more than two hundred books last year, and would be hard pressed to describe even a quarter of them in detail. Why has it taken me so long to finish Skyrim? Because I don’t want to miss anything. I want to talk to everyone. I weigh all my decisions in that game with more care and thought than most of the decisions in my life. I enter every cave, even if it looks scary, and open every treasure chest I can find. Now I wonder why I don’t do that in life as well. How it’s so much easier, in life, to walk past the person needing help, than to offer assistance. How I will offer to spend three hours of my life assisting a stranger in a video game on a side quest, but have no clue as to my uncle’s favorite kind of food, after forty one years of chances to find out.
I will strive to miss less stop signs in my life. I will endeavor to live as though I’m playing an RPG, and I pledge to be more forgiving to those in my life that have missed the treasure chests that I’ve left for them, or skipped past them because they just didn’t have time or inclination to notice.
You have read with me this far, so I must have touched a chord.
Maybe you discovered one of your missed treasures, or the stop signs you've been running. Can you also make a pledge? Can you find just one place in your life that needs a stop sign, and actually just stop, for as long as it takes? Or maybe brush off one of those dusty treasure chests that you never took the time to open. Yes, it might be scary. You might get stuck. After all your effort, the 'treasure' could just be a box full of rocks. But, you never know... you might also find your own, personal, magical armor that will help you along on your adventure of life.
I’m done preaching. I’m going out to look for some stop signs. And, I will close with this:
I love you too, Bo. I love you too I love you too, Bo. XO – Bumper.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the views of The Overpowered Noobs.