Since posting the “Cat’s in the Cradle” video on Fathers Day, I have been thinking about Harry Chapin. Growing up, I loved his music. As an adult, his stuff means even more to me because I have lived many of his stories. His untimely death was a loss to us all.
Today, as I was driving around thinking about how complicated certain parts of my life have become, a story Harry told about a conversation with his grandfather came to mind:
“My grandfather was a painter. He died at age 88. He illustrated Robert Frost’s first two books of poetry. He was looking at me one day and he said, “Harry, there’s two kinds of tired. There’s good-tired and there’s bad-tired.
Ironically enough, bad-tired can be a day in which you won, but you won other people’s battles, you lived other people’s days, other people’s agendas and dreams, and when it’s all over, there’s very little you in there, and when you hit the hay at night, you toss and turn, you don’t settle easy.
Good-tired, ironically enough, can be a day in which you lost, but you knew you fought your battles, you chased your dreams, you lived your days. And when you hit the hay at night, you settle easy, you sleep the sleep of the just, and you can say, “Take me away.”
Harry, all my life I wanted to be a painter. So I painted. God, I would have loved to have been more successful. But I painted and painted. And I am good-tired, and they can take me away.”
I shared this story with my girls when they were little and, from time to time, I remind them of it. I can’t think of a better philosophy of life. Further, I think it’s the best illustration of “To Thine Own Self Be True.”
There have been times in my life when I have given in to someone else’s agenda, won their battle for them, and then hated myself for it later on. There have been many more times when it has seemed that everyone but Jesus and my Mother was against me, but I let events play out and, in the end, at least it was my victory or my defeat, and I slept well because it.
So kids, here’s a challenge from your old Uncle Scolai: Try to live always so that at the end of the day you are “Good-Tired.”