Importance, when applied to people, is relative. I learned this lesson suddenly as a member of The Citadel Regimental Band and Pipes. We had a performance in downtown Charleston for then incumbent President, George H. W. Bush. Because we were performing with the President in the audience, we went through the standard Secret Service security checks to include going into the room where we’d perform, putting our instruments together, checking them, and then leaving the room so they could be checked out. There was a lot of importance placed on the fact that the President would be there, and most folks would agree with that.
The event went off without a hitch. It was as the event ended that I learned the lesson that a person’s importance is relative. Major Day, USMC, Retired, had been up in a position of authority within the Marine Corps bands up in Washington, D.C., when he was still on active duty. Apparently at some point Major Day’s path had crossed with Mr. Bush’s. There was a spark of remembrance and quite suddenly the President was beside Major Day, shaking his hand and speaking a few words to him. Needless to say, the Secret Service folks were scrambling and converging on our band. We had a great laugh afterwards as a band, because Major Day realized the ruckus President Bush had caused. However, going over to see Major Day was important to President Bush, the most powerful man in the Western world at that time.
To most folks, Major Day appeared as a confident and excellent band director, retired Marine, and leader for the Citadel’s cadet band. Likely most folks wouldn’t have put him the category of folks where an incumbent President would take the time to personally come over and speak to for a few moments. I know we didn’t. Sure, the Major was important to us, but to the President? That wasn’t something we would have ever considered. And that taught me in a very visible way that a person’s importance is relative.
So when I say “important people,” I mean the people important to you. A post from Shaun Boyd entitled Sometimes You Expect Great Men to Live Forever over at LifeReboot.com reminded me this morning that it is critical that we spend the time with the ones who are important to us. There will always be plenty of excuses. There will always be plenty of reasons we’re too busy. We’ve got to cut through all that. After all, we can never know ahead of time when someone who is important to us will be gone. I think about some of the folks who have been important to me who were gone too soon and I am spurred to find ways to spend more time with the folks who are important to me. Folks like:
- Major Day
- Uncle Stanley
- Uncle Jim
If you’re a teenager or an adult, I’m sure you have a similar list. In Major Day’s case, I only saw him a few times after I left The Citadel. I definitely regret that I didn’t take the opportunity to see him more. He made a huge difference in my life. I can’t do-over the past like some video game, so it’s vital that I not repeat the same mistake with those who are important to me that are still here. Take the time for the important people in your life. It should be one of the highest priorities of our lives but we too often don’t give it the proper position. Don’t keep repeating that mistake.