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COVID Confidential

A friend of mine recently went through a life-changing event that left him yearning for his true purpose at this unprecedented time in history. Health is often a factor in how happy we are in life. After COVID took a swooping toll on his lungs, he sought out his higher power and his personal insight for what he could do differently. He now values time more than anything else.

Once his health struggles subsided, he had one phrase to offer as life advice to everyone going forward. He wanted to share his feelings of stress induced encouragement so others could benefit from his temporary plight. His advice isn't novel or mind-boggling, but it is his truth and new mantra. Also, I believe that the theme of his advice is the secret to happiness going forward in this world.

After a wonderful lunch with my buddy, Mike Heene, he sent me off with this insightful statement. He peered around the table, everyone all ears, and said, ". . . in life . . . buy the dessert, go on the vacation, buy the sports car . . . because no one has tomorrow promised." His words resonated with everyone, even receiving nods of agreement from others enjoying their brunch from tables nearby.

Just months earlier, Mike was a brazen youngster, enjoying the fast life while working hard and playing hard. His mindset did not include worrying about the current pandemic. His activities did not concern the well-being of others.

He already enjoyed his days living in a spacious retreat in the bustling Rivermarket area of Kansas City. His successful business allowed him to eat, drink, and be merry any time and at any hour of the week. He wasn't careless in life, but his goals were more focused on attainment rather than involvement.

But as we have learned over the past few years, life has a way of showing us who is boss. Hint: it is not us humans.

As he tells it, his health took a turn for the worse in the matter of 12 hours once the Delta variant attacked his immune system. He went through various bouts of being alone at home, not being accepted into the Emergency Room, finally getting admitted into the hospital, having parts of his lung removed, coughing blood, and then staying many more painful nights in the hospital for longer than expected. The events of these trials were documented on his social media and later butressed by stories on the local TV news stations in KC. The details of his journey can be checked out in these places, they are sincere and raw.

But as I watched his story unfold over time, I felt sympathy for him and his family. The struggle was real and it was going to have an affect on his life forever, for better or worse. The portion that stood out to me after all his tribulations is what I call his TRIUMPH. Finding this triumph in our own lives is very important, and he certainly identified his. In his own words, Mike's triumph is to not waste time in life, and take advantage of every day.

Mike struggled during his several month bout with the virus. Before he was in the hospital, he spent weeks alone at home. Cold, hot, hungry, thirsty, nauseous, achy, and not able to leave his loft. He was depressed and his mental stability waned. He reached out to others for help, even strangers on social media. The simple need of food, drink, and medicine became mountainous chores instead of simple tasks. Going through this grief gave Mike's mind time to think. He prayed and he came up with a plan.

Mike Heene created the first social media based support group for COVID sufferers. It is called COVID Outreach KC and is a place where people can ask questions, get advice, request assistance, and just show support to one another. Some people ask questions about symptoms and the progression of the virus. Others might be stuck at home and just want someone to drop off medicine on their front porch. People helping people, created by a man while in the midst of despair.

Becoming involved in life gave Mike the spark to help others and do life actively instead of passively. Now, there are thousands of people grateful for what he has started as they deal with the unknowns of how sickness affects each individual.

So, as I thought about his story, I relized that this type of revival has been happening much more recently. In my conversations with hundreds of Americans from dozens of different communities around our nation, I got the same rallying feeling. Over the past 18 months, I have enjoyed my interractions with folks about their newfound love for life. Each person had a different way of describing this feeling, but the theme was the same.

Take advantage of today, because that is all we have.

I love this because it is healthy, promising, encouraging, and spiritual. In the sense that we cannot change the past, and we cannot live in the future, but we can control the present. It is a gift. Living for the now doesn't have to be careless, and it can be rewarding.

Many of my interactions with people all over the country have proved this to me. They got me thinking about how I can make my own life more relevant.

I condisered this and decided to enact intention into my everyday life. In simpler fashion, here are a few ways that I have lived for the day in the past week.

  • I made that extra phone call to a friend so we could catch up on life.

  • I impulsively asked family and friends out to a fun Mexican restaurant.

  • I offered a favor to a neighbor to help with fall clean-up.

  • I took some extra days out of town for work and pleasure.

In all four of these situations I could have simply passed on the events, looking at my TV wondering what was happening in the world around me. I would have literally been living passively in the moment. Instead I took advantage of the present and got involved in life, not letting time pass me by. Each involvement doesn't have to cost large amounts of money or take extreme efforts. But they certainly add nuance, quality, and culture to our existence.

Just like Mike's advice to "go on that vacation," we can take our lives into our own hands by being active. Being passive leaves us with a feeling of want. Being active and present leaves us bright and full.

So, his advice to "get that car" is literal, but it is also symbolic. I have been encouraged to see Americans transforming their lives in recent months, and it gives me hope that the initiative of us as people is growing in strength. It's OK to be thrown off your square, it will happen numerous times over a lifetime. But, it is even better to see how involvement can get us back on track by living actively in the present.

Enjoy it, and grab it before it is gone!

Mike Heene and his sister Chrissy dealing with COVID recovery the best that they can.

During brunch, Mike showed me photos of the new Corvette he bought, because that is what makes him happy in the present moment.

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