Welcome to Stuff I Learned Yesterday. My name is Darrell Darnell, I grilled some delicious bbq chicken over the weekend, and I believe if you are learning, you aren’t living. In today’s episode of Stuff I Learned Yesterday I share a lesson I learned from the passing of a local news personality.

Today’s Fun Fact of the Day: This Saturday is Independence Day here in the United States. Here are some cool facts about fireworks:

  • The earliest documentary evidence of fireworks dates from around AD700 in China but there is evidence that primitive Chinese firecrackers go back to around 200BC.
  • Fireworks reached Europe in 1292 when Marco Polo brought them from China.
  • China still makes about 90 per cent of the world’s fireworks.
  • The earliest known use of the word ‘fireworks’ in English was in 1562. Shakespeare mentions fireworks in Henry VIII and Love’s Labour’s Lost.
  • The Walt Disney Company is said to be the world’s largest consumer of fireworks.

Here’s What I leaned yesterday.
Death.

It’s a word that none of us like to talk about or think about. It’s a destination that none of us are in a hurry to reach. It’s a reminder that who and what we have here and now will not always be there.

Death has been chasing every single one of us since the day we were born and despite our best efforts to eat right, exercise, laugh, and take care of ourselves, it will one day catch us. There is no escaping it.

I must admit that as a 39 year old, I still feel like death is a lifetime away. Why is that? I’ve seen death’s clutches take hold of men, women, boys, and girls much younger than me. I know that my life could be snuffed out this very day. Yet for all intents and purposes I live as though I have another 40 years to go. Even still, if that’s the case, I’m now middle aged.

Nine days ago the state of Oklahoma let out a collective gasp as we learned of the sudden passing of a man that had been gracing our TV screens for as long as I can remember. Seriously. Bob Barry Jr., Sports Director for the NBC affiliate here has been on TV here for 35 years. He and his dad, Bob Barry Sr. are Oklahoma legends.

On Saturday, June 20, 2015 Bob Barry Jr’s life ended when a man made an illegal u-turn right in front of him. Bob was riding a motor scooter and he t-boned the car as it turned in front of him. Bob died from his injuries before he ever reached the hospital. At 58 years of age, Bob Barry Jr was gone.

We were shocked. Like we had many times before, we watched his Friday night sports report during the 10 o’clock news on June 19th. He showcased his energy and enthusiasm for life and even broke into a Carol King song. Little did we know that it would be the last news report he ever delivered.

I never met Bob, but after hearing so many people talk about him this last week, I feel like I know him better now than ever before. He seems like the kind of guy that wasn’t afraid to give hugs, share words of encouragement, lend a helping hand, tell you that he loved you, and put your needs before his.

Was he perfect? Of course, not. None of us are. At his memorial there were a lot of stories told about his orneriness, and the trouble he’d get into, but there were a lot more stories of his care and compassion for others. He seems like the kind of guy that the world need more of.
As shocked as Kari and I were when we found out, his family and friends must have been even more shocked. At his memorial service,one of his friends told of a phone conversation they’d shared the morning Bob died. He had no idea it would be the last time they spoke. Likewise, his wife, kids, and their spouses were in total shock.

How could they have known?

Here’s what I learned.

Life is but a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

It’s strange how death works. I have sat through dozens of funerals in my lifetime and yet, I take life for granted. It is foolish of me to feel like I have another 40 years ahead. And yet, I’m quite sure that most of us are the same way.

So death has a way of slapping us across the face and reminding us of that undeniable truth that we are promised nothing but the breath currently in our lungs. In moments where we have been slapped by death we often find ourselves in a rare moment of clarity.

Clarity.

Isn’t that a word that we need more of in our lives? I know I do.

We fill our lives with activities that don’t matter in the least. We place importance on things that have no value and we put aside those things that carry the greatest value. We pour ourselves in to work and leave the lives of friends and family empty.

Is it just me? Am I the only one guilty here?

So again I say, “clarity.”

That word is so precious.

Like when you get a new pair of eyeglasses and you discover all the details that you never knew you were missing. Clarity.

Like when you put new windshield wipers on your car and fire them up for the first time. Clarity.

So as I sit here in a moment of clarity, allow me to share my perspective with you.

We do not have all the time in the world. Our time is coming to an end sooner than we would like or expect.

In the last 6 months 2 different friends of mine have told me an eerily similar story. The story involves a close friend that they had been intending to call or visit with. They were going to do it but things kept coming up. Then suddenly, without warning, their friend died. There was no chance to get that cup of coffee, no chance to thank them for their friendship, no chance to say I love you one more time. All that was left was regret.

It’s heartbreaking and I am just as guilty of putting things off to another day, or more accurately said, putting PEOPLE off to another day.

Don’t put it off.

Is there something you want to do? Do it.
Is there something you want to say? Say it.

Today is a gift that we have been given. Make the most of it.

I’m Darrell Darnell and this has been Stuff I Learned Yesterday.

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