by Dave Markwell

I have been on a hiatus for a little while. I have checked out. This hiatus has involved many elements of my life. While on my little break, I have not taken great care of myself. I have eaten crappy foods. I have not gotten enough sleep. I have not given my family or friends the attention they deserve. Another thing I have not done during my hiatus is feel bad about it.

Being 44 years old, I have some perspective on these things. This is not my first hiatus. I have come to understand that feeling bad about feeling bad doesn’t make me feel any better. As insightful as this is, it is also true. In life, the tides of our energy and inspiration ebb and flow. Sometimes, the waters are high and we feel excited and motivated and other times the water is out, leaving only a muddy and smelly shore that is difficult to find much joy in.

The key to surviving a hiatus is understanding that it will end. Great solace can be taken in the knowledge that the tide will come back in. That’s why I try not to be too hard on myself during the times that I kind of suck. My tide was out. It happens.

Last night, while tucking my daughter into bed, she held onto to my arm and we talked. She looked intently into my eyes as I told her important things. In a rare and seemingly becoming rarer moment of connection, she actually listened to me. I think I said some words she needed to hear. I discussed her place in my life and my hopes and dreams for her and I acknowledged my failings. I was simply honest and human with her. It was a special moment; Special for her and special for me.

As I left her bedroom for my own, I felt the waters begin to shift. I was reminded of my own value to the people I care about. This is easy to lose sight of. We matter. Our kids, spouses, families and friends need us. They like us and they care about us. They need us to be good and happy for we contribute to their own goodness and happiness.

The simple fact that we all matter is not a new idea. This is an old idea. Most important ideas are. Here is perhaps the most appropriate and timeless poem speaking to this:

No Man Is An Island
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

– John Donne

So, today, as my waters slowly rise, I will begin again. Rejuvenated, refreshed and intent on making the difference I can to the people and world I love, I will begin again. I am better for my hiatus. We can all begin again. And we are all better for a hiatus. They remind us, through our absence, that we matter. We all matter. We are all “involved in mankind”. This is duty and a purpose that provides all the good things in life. After suffering through a long walk on a stinky and muddy coastline, this is a good thing to remember…and the tide always comes back in, just as it has forever. This is a good thing to remember, too.

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who just published his first book called “A Feel Good Life” (buy it on Amazon here). Dave also extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]

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