The old man made his way onto the train and sat down next to a younger man reading a book. The younger man looked up and smiled at the old man. The old man was carrying an umbrella, a briefcase and was wearing matching fedora and raincoat. Clearly he looked as if this was his uniform for the past fifty years. He let out a breath, took off his hat and opened the newspaper that was tucked firmly beneath his left arm.
“Crazy world.” He said as he looked at the front page showing another young celebrity on the way from nightclub to rehab and then to the soft ground forever on the list of the died too young.
“Its crazy how they have the world in their hands and they just never learn from the past. ”
“Its been going on for years – some say a romantic death – I don’t see anything romantic about death – life, living, that is romantic.”
“Just like every romance, life has its ups and downs.” The young man added.
“Ups and downs; yes but each down happens as a result of a lot of ups. Think about a broken heart – it happens because you loved someone. Is there any other emotion more powerful than love? No. Think about the bad things that happen, now think about the good things that happen. Which can you count on one hand and which do you need to actually write down on a long sheet of paper?”
“Some people can write a lot of bad things that happen. You cant discount them.”
“Lets play a game. What’s your name?” The young man smiles and closes his book.
“My name is Freddy and what is yours?”
“I am Al. Now think about your biggest problems right now. You dont have to tell me them, just think about them and mentally count them.”
The younger man thinks and responds quickly.
“My issue is money. I can never catch up and make the ends meet.”
“Problems? I want to give my kids more than I do right now and I want to treat my wife as the queen she is.”
“But those aren’t problems, those are situations we try and improve but they are not problems that can stop a life, right?”
“Ok – so yeah money is the big issue. I feel time is running away and the opportunities to enjoy that time with my family are dwindling.”
“It doesn’t cost money to go to the park or the zoo, to go for a walk on the boardwalk or to play a game. Think about the best times in your life – the times you will remember forever. Were they spent in some exotic location? Or were they spent on a porch in the summer sitting and talking way past bedtime just because it was the only place you wanted to be? Was it the first time you looked into your wife’s eyes and knew for certain that she was the one and that she would be your no matter what?”
“Sounds about right, Al.”
“Now tell me the good things in your life, the opposite of your problems.”
The younger man sat there staring into space, smiles coming to his lips, nodding and dabbing his eyes.
“I have too many to count, Al.”
“Sounds about right, Freddy. You need to grab life, hug life, grab each second, harder and harder. When it begins to slip from your grasp – grab it, not like that, but harder. Before you know it the time will swallow up your opportunity to appreciate what you have. Love is free Freddy – time is free – but they each need to be appreciated and handled with care.”
The train stopped, the old man gave the younger man a wink and a smile; he then stepped out. The younger man’s eyes were tearing and he realized how much time he wasted ignoring the blessings and just wanting more.
He said aloud, “I need to grab it, grab it harder.” The people around him looked at him like he was nuts – he didn’t care. Just smiled and wipe his eyes.