03/27/2007 – LANGHORNE, Penn. There is only so much time in our lives. My mother lived until she was almost ninety-three years old. My father just had his eighty-ninth birthday. Other relatives on my side of the family, who took care of their health, have lived or are living into their eighties and nineties. I haven’t always taken good care of my health, so logic tells me that my life will be shorter.
I don’t think there is any debate that if you have used tobacco most of your life that your years will generally be less than those who have not. There may be some discussion as to what alcohol does to your health over the long haul. But when doctors review my medical history with me, there seems to be one answer they like when they ask me whether I use tobacco, alcohol, or recreational drugs. They like the answer “No.”
I made a promise to my wife back in 1986 that I would stop the tobacco and alcohol. The alcohol was easy. The cigarettes were not. I was stationed in Honduras at the time as a Military Police Desk Sergeant and Patrol Supervisor. I told my Lieutenant and my Platoon Sergeant that I was quitting smoking and that I would be very cranky for the next few days until the nicotine was out of my system. They put me on walking patrol by myself in downtown Comayagua for the next five days straight. I must have walked more than fifty miles and I had the opportunity to practice my Latin American Spanish with the locals a whole lot. It’s been twenty-one years now and I can honestly say that I have no desire for tobacco anymore. I was almost up to three packs a day before I quit. If the health issue is not important enough, think of what you can do with the money you save.
On the same token, because of my own experience, I don’t criticize others if they smoke, drink or chew, and it doesn’t bother me one iota to hang around with those that do. It’s more important for me to treat others with dignity and respect than it is to criticize the way they have chosen to live their lives. Bottom line – it’s their health, and they have chosen the inevitable benefits and/or consequences of how they have taken care of it just as I have. But then again, we all don’t live in a vacuum do we?. Our personal health will always be a family matter as well.
All this to ask the question, “If today is the first day of the rest of your life, what are you going to do with it, and what will be the philosophy, the framework that will govern how you live it?" Seems like a really deep question doesn’t it? Well it is, and I’m asking because I’m concerned. I’m concerned about you. And if you are one of those who have read this far in this blog, you are one of the ones I’m concerned about. I might not even know your name. But it doesn’t make any difference. Why? I am concerned because I know something about you that you may not even know about yourself. What’s that? You were created in the image of God, and that’s true even if you don’t believe there is a God. It is just a fact of life. You have value. You are important. Even if you think you are alone, you are not. God loves you and has a plan for your life.
In my last blog I shared with you an old composition of sorts. It was written two days before I married my wonderful wife. It was also used that year and others since then to celebrate not only our wedding anniversary but also the anniversary of the United States Army Military Police Corps. Both anniversaries are on September 26th. I retired from active duty December 31st, 1991. But the marriage goes on. Last Summer my wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary by renewing our vows. When my two children - and hopefully my grandchildren when they finally come – when they read that composition of mine, they will always know that the words written there is what Dad (and Grandpa) held as his personal core philosophy. Those words will always be what Allan Leigh Winger is (and was) all about.
Those words have stood the test of time for me and others as well. Why have they stood the test of time? Many have shared with me over the years what those words have meant to them. But as for me personally, back then and now, it has been through those words that my Father in Heaven has shown me, really shown me, that I am created in His image. I have value. I am important. I am not alone. He loves me and really does have a plan for my life. Wow!! Talk about self-esteem builders :-))
There is a maxim of sorts that I learned years ago – “History repeats itself. It has to. Nobody listens.” My Dad once said that if a book was ever written about him it should be titled, “You Can’t Get There From Here.” I need to ask him what the title is now because I know it has probably changed. But, right now, if say maybe a genealogy entry was made in the family history book about me, or maybe if someone needed to put an epitaph on my grave stone, the following two words would be enough – “He Listened.”
What about you? What philosophy is governing your life. I certainly don’t have a corner on the market when it comes to an answer to that question. Please share, if not with me, then with someone you care about. I’m sure they would love to listen. God Bless :-) Allan