Nice to be important, more important to be nice…

Ok, so we’re a month into a new year. 2015 came at us like so many years have lately….while we were sleeping LOL.

We’re not big New Years revelers. Watch a couple movies, or Canada vs USA in the World Juniors, watch an east coast version of a New Years party and hit the bed around 10 pm. Woohoo….

As most of you know, it’s been an interesting month for us. The trip we looked forward to had a major twist to it, but we made the best of it. Arlene is healing up nicely and probably getting a bit bored at home by now.
We’ve had many wonderful meals brought to us from our church. Makes things a bit easier on the home front.

I guess, I’m somewhere in the middle. I’d like to think we can learn from mistakes and improve. I’d like to think that even though some curves will be thrown our way, we take a swing anyway and try to get the bat on the ball.
I’ll be the first to admit that I poke fun at the positive thinkers. Don’t get me wrong, I’m cool with keeping a positive outlook, but I’m probably more in the realistic camp. Having said that, I still believe in trying to make the best of a situation. Assess and move on. In my experience, things have a way of evening out. I guess, to a degree, it has much to do with what you’re happy or content with.

One of the things I took away from our trip to Nicaragua, was the fact the people were so happy even though they were living in what we’d call shacks. When I’ve shown some people my pictures, the most common reaction I get is that, “Well, they don’t know any better.” True to a point. Nicaragua is a poor country, however, they do have big cities with box stores, street lights, running water and such. Overall, the people we met just seemed to be more content. A comment I heard in one of our supper discussions was, “the more I had, the more I worried.” Ergo, the less you have, the less you worry.

I’m not suggesting we all throw earthly possession away, I’m just suggesting that perhaps we’ve been duped into attaching too much importance on our “things”. It’s a little sad that oft times it takes a tragedy in our lives or someone close to us to give us perspective.

A friend of mine passed suddenly. Way to soon at age 52. His name was Shawn Coates and I met him along the sidelines of the Bomber games. He was a fellow photographer. Getting to know Shawn, I was amazed that he’d even talk to me. After all, he’d been in some fairly lofty places. Moving from director of media communications with the Bombers in the Khari days, to working as an exec for the CFL.
Shawn helped bring instant replay to the CFL along helping write policy still in place today.
One thing that came out clearly at Shawn’s memorial was a tidbit written by Milt Stegall. Milt said, “Some think it’s nice to be important. Shawn was the type of person who thought it was important to be nice.”
Shawn didn’t just think that way, he lived it. In photography terms, I’m definitely a newbie around the sidelines. I had a couple of guys like Dave Darichuk and John Woods take me under their wing as well, but Shawn was the master of introductions.
Because of his past positions with the CFL he know EVERYONE! From announcers to tech people to other execs with TSN or Bombers, Shawn would introduce me to them. People, who under normal circumstances, I had no business getting to know. But that was Shawn’s way. He didn’t care about your status in life. As far as I could tell, he treated everyone the SAME.
I think that’s why he was so revered….and will be missed by so many.
It’s an important message, I will try to take with me going forward. Not always easy. It’s a mindset and that can take time.

So whether you’re at work, play, abroad like Nicaragua or at home with your loved ones, remember the rule of Shawn. It’s nice to be important, but more important to be nice.


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