Simple (and Priceless) Life Lessons from the Most Influential Prosperity Mentor in my life: My Father
“While I was teaching a private (one-on-one) adult English class last week, a student complained about her mother. She said that she couldn’t go anywhere or do anything without her. In short, she felt like all her relatives were suffocating
her. She was a Thai woman and expressed her longing to have the “Western Style” freedom from parents and relatives that most foreigners enjoy.
The rest of the class was spent discussing some of the priceless, life lessons I’d learned from my father.”
By Carl Pantejo, Copyright 2007
(Author “My Friend Yu – The Prosperity Mentor,” Copyright August 2007. Pantejo – Y.N. Vurce Publishing.)
*Below is an excerpt from “My Friend Yu – The Prosperity Mentor: Book II. Release Date: 2008. Pantejo – Y.N. Vurce Publishing.
The last few days of my father’s life were spent in the Intensive Care Unit of a Florida hospital. He was succumbing to what has been coined by laymen as “the rich man’s cancer” – Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. How ironic, I thought. You see, my father started his working life as a poor minister in Asia, came to America on a church scholarship, eventually earned his Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorate degrees (among many other academic achievements), and finally retired as a high ranking U.S. Government Service Official.
Upon admission to the hospital, I was summoned by him (via my mother). Since he never, ever asked anything of me after I left home, I knew that this time must be serious, and I didn’t hesitate. I gathered my 2½ year old daughter and took the long trek to the States. When I wasn’t attending to my daughter (which usually meant whenever she was asleep), in my mind I relived my younger years. Because traveling from Asia to America (Florida) takes over one day, I had a long time to think about the special relationship I had with my father.
During those last days of his life, my father and I talked, talked, and talked – until the cancer he was suffering from finally claimed his life.
While most would replay inner grief when thinking about the death of their father (much less write about it), I consider myself lucky. Few people have the opportunity to tell their loved ones their true feelings before it’s too late. I will forever be grateful for the chance I was given to tell my father how much I loved him, envied his life achievements, and how I felt extremely honored to be his son.
I couldn’t help but admire his unwavering (and infectious) faith in God, people, and life – including the life we enjoy after physical death.
Listening to his sincere gratitude for everything in his life made me realize how remiss I was in identifying the good things in my own life. His contentment was borne from a life of love, achievement, and service to others.
“I’m not afraid to die. My life up to this point has been one long, fulfilling, and grand adventure of faith and love. When I die it will be just like getting some anticipated, restful sleep after a wonderful day of living. Plus, I get to go home and see the loved ones who have passed before me. My only regret and worry is your mother. Life as WE is the only life she’s known. Help me out with this one, OK?” He said.
Of course, I said, “Yes.”
In spite of our opposite lifestyles (he was a religious man, counselor, and healer, while I became a soldier, destroyer, and combat/survival instructor); we always had a mutual respect for each other’s personal beliefs; a special, silent, and certain understanding between what he called “ancient souls.” Even when I quit High School and ran away from home, my father made it a point to keep in touch. I called him frequently during that time; mainly because he didn’t judge me and respected my decision to be independent, learning about life by making my own mistakes.
I learned so much from this man; this quiet and wise friend to all.
He taught me how to treat ALL people (no matter what social or economic status) with the dignity befitting ALL human beings. He taught me that preserving one’s conscious, especially during the hard-choice moments in life, enabled one to sleep well with a serene soul.
He taught me how to be strong enough to be vulnerable. That is, when you are truly confident about your own identity, at ease with your thoughts, and willingly accept (not judge) other people, you’re automatically strong enough to share your talents and love unconditionally with the rest of the world – even if that means risking a million personal heartbreaks a day.
He taught me that everything, I mean absolutely everything, IS OK NOW. He didn’t dwell on nostalgia, nor did he fidget about the future. All my life, I observed how he enjoyed the present moment, finding the happiness and the humor in any situation. In fact, there were many times we (the rest of the family) “lost” him at malls because he never lost that childlike wonder of everything and everyone around him. Many times, we would usually find him laughing and talking to an old friend. But when we asked him who that person was, he usually said something like “I’m not sure. I just met him/her a few minutes ago…”
Many people (myself included) tend to postpone their own happiness for some vague “whenever this or that happens” situation in their lives. But the truth is that this “perfect situation” will never materialize. Why do we do this? Conditioning: habitually waiting for something better to happen BEFORE allowing ourselves to celebrate life. This is a common syndrome plaguing most modern day workers.
Sadly, without knowing it, we gradually raise our “threshold until personal joy” mile-markers in life until happiness postponement becomes a lifestyle. In other words, the “I’ve finally made it moment” becomes a moving target, a target that can never be hit.
My father taught me how dangerous this type of thinking really is. It forms and strengthens the habit of accepting the postponement of personal joy, making it difficult to simply enjoy life NOW.
Since I’ve always been a high energy person, I would accomplish one thing, then, without acknowledging or celebrating the accomplishment, immediately go on to another project. For example, thinking it was a waste of time, I wanted to skip my own college/university graduation ceremonies. Eventually, at the request of my wife and relatives, I ended up attending both (actually having a nice time doing it).
To this day I can still hear my father’s words: “You always seem so busy. Your mother and I don’t get to see you – sometimes for 2 to 3 year stretches at a time.
Why not stop momentarily, just for now? You can’t do EVERYTHING this minute, can you? Go let the important people in your life know that you love them and just have a nice meal together. It’ll be good for them and good for your soul.”
Yes, my father IS a special soul. And I don’t mourn his physical death. He will always be alive in my heart and mind.
The following poem expresses my feelings much more eloquently than I ever could:
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.
[Considered, but not confirmed, to be written by Mary Elizabeth Frye (1904-2004)]
– SOUNDING LIKE MY FATHER? –
While I was teaching an adult English class last week, a student complained about her mother. She said that she couldn’t go anywhere or do anything without her. In short, she felt like all her relatives were suffocating her. She was a Thai woman and expressed her longing to have the “Western Style” freedom from parents and relatives that most foreigners enjoy.
This is what I told her:
“Foreigners, especially Americans, do enjoy a high level of freedom. But they also suffer from a lot of depression and loneliness. The respect for individual privacy is often used by many lazy people as a poor excuse for not being friendly or helpful – especially in the big cities.
After the initial excitement of finally landing in the United States is over, the most common complaint from Asian women is depression and loneliness. Their American husbands are gone most of the day at work. And because of language/communication barriers and a paralyzing culture shock, she can’t immediately join the workforce. Coupled with the fact that she doesn’t have her usual mass of friends and family around her every minute of every day for emotional support, it is no surprise that depression and loneliness is the usual outcome.
Generally, the close bond between family members – taken for granted in Asia – is rare in the United States. At an early age, Americans are taught to be independent. The responsibility and obligations between parent and child ends as soon as the child becomes an adult. Adults are not obligated to take care of their parents. In turn, an adult can not automatically run home to their parents whenever times get rough.”
Sounding like my father, I asked her the following questions. First, “How would you feel when your mother is not around anymore? What would you do if you could not automatically go to her (or other relative) whenever you had trouble in your life? How would you feel if you were alone most of the day, everyday?
You are so busy working and taking English classes on your off-time. Why not stop momentarily, just for now? You can’t do EVERYTHING YOU WANT this minute, can you? Go let the important people in your life know that you love them and just have a nice meal together. It’ll be good for them and good for your soul.”
…Being strong enough to love unconditionally, respecting people, accepting (not judging) individuality, acknowledging true priorities in life; and lastly, sharing personal talents and love abundantly are a few simple, but priceless, lessons from the most Influential Prosperity Mentor in my life: My Father.
When was the last time you said “I love you” to your loved ones?
Do it now before it’s too late…
The death of a loved one back home while domiciled in Thailand is many expats' worst nightmare.