Now is a time for re­flec­tion

The Covington News - - OPINION -

Please in­dulge me a mo­ment of in­tro­spec­tion and feel free to think along with me. Chances are what I am go­ing to say may ap­ply to you as well.

My fam­ily and I re­cently sat through a thor­ough re­view of my Last Will and Tes­ta­ment. It was a sur­real ex­pe­ri­ence, lis­ten­ing to my friend and at­tor­ney, Bill Mer­ritt, read out loud the words that will be at­trib­uted to me when I am no longer here to speak them for my­self.

Much of what will be said in my name when I am gone is as for­eign to me as Swahili slang. It is de­signed to sat­isfy the le­gal hoops one must jump through in or­der to leave one’s heirs what one right­fully worked one’s buns off to earn. I love my coun­try and the Great State of Ge­or­gia, but I don’t love them enough to give them one penny they don’t de­serve.

They cer­tainly earn it. I did.

In some cases, the govern­ment made it dif­fi­cult for me to do my job be­cause of bur­den­some laws and weird reg­u­la­tions. Be­sides, if the politi­cians and bu­reau­crats got their hands on my money, they would prob­a­bly spend it try­ing to cre­ate more bur­den­some laws and weird reg­u­la­tions.

As

I

lis­tened

didn’t

to the there­fores and where­fores, I sud­denly had a stag­ger­ing sense of my own mor­tal­ity. I re­al­ized that I have lived more days than I have ahead of me. I am not just in the Septem­ber of my years; I am edg­ing to­ward the first week of De­cem­ber. For­tu­nately, I’ve got the fi­nan­cial part — such as it is — fig­ured out, thanks to Mr. Mer­ritt’s ex­per­tise. But what about the rest of it?

Sadly, I have come to un­der­stand that I have wasted a lot of my time on this earth fret­ting over things that to­day look pretty triv­ial. My men­tor, the late Jasper Dorsey, who was vice pres­i­dent of South­ern Bell Tele­phone Co., taught me a lot about be­ing a man­ager, but he taught me also about life, in­clud­ing the obli­ga­tion we have to leave this a bet­ter world than we found it.

I haven’t al­ways done that.

In my younger days, I knew that I could al­ways clean up to­mor­row what I messed up to­day. To­day I can’t be sure there will be an­other to­mor­row. I have only this day to try my best to be my best. Some­times, my best won’t be very good, but it should not be from a lack of try­ing.

Billy Payne, the chair­man of Au­gusta National, is one of the spe­cial peo­ple to pass through my life. He was the vi­sion­ary who had the idea to bring the Olympic Games to At­lanta. A lot of peo­ple scoffed at that idea, in­clud­ing me.

That was be­fore I got to know him. The man walks his talk. Work­ing with him dur­ing the 1996 Cen­ten­nial Olympic Games was a great ex­pe­ri­ence and a les­son in the pur­suit of ex­cel­lence.

Payne was a scholar-ath­lete at the Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia when that term meant some­thing. He was an “A” stu­dent and never played in a football game for UGA in which he didn’t start.

Watch­ing him per­form each week was his fa­ther, Porter Payne, him­self an out­stand­ing football player for the Bull­dogs in the mid-’40s and good enough to be drafted by the New York Gi­ants football or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Billy tells of talk­ing with his fa­ther af­ter each game and ask­ing his dad to as­sess how well he had played that day.

Porter Payne’s an­swer was al­ways the same: “It doesn’t mat­ter what I think. The ques­tion is what do you think? Did you do the best you could do?”

The younger Payne would have to ad­mit that per­haps he could have done some­thing a lit­tle bet­ter and would vow the next week to im­prove.

Ev­ery week, the same con­ver­sa­tion took place be­tween fa­ther and son; the same an­swer and the same re­solve to do bet­ter in the next game fol­lowed. His fa­ther didn’t have to push Billy Payne to be the best he could be. He was teach­ing his son to do it him­self.

Maybe this is a good time for us to look in the mir­ror and ask our­selves if we have done the best we can do to­day. Have we made the ef­fort?

Or will we put things off un­til to­mor­row while we strain at gnats to­day?

I now know that to­mor­row may never come. This is the only day guar­an­teed to us. It is a pre­cious gift. Don’t waste it.

You can reach Dick Yar­brough at yarb2400@ bell­south.net or P.O. Box 725373, At­lanta, Ge­or­gia 31139.

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