TOMORROW IS GUARENTEED TO NO ONE.
It is very easy for me in life to get caught up in the busyness of the day, worry about my future and regret things in my past. I get busy working and planning and hoping for the future and many times forget to enjoy the moment, enjoy the day. In strength training and training for athletics we call it embracing or enjoying the process. It is about finding joy or enjoyment in the everyday tasks of the training process. It brings to mind the saying that “life is a journey and not a destination.” This is true for training and life. Yes in athletics and strength sports the competition is the main thing and it should be, but we miss out on a lot of enjoyment if we miss the beauty of the mundane middle, the everyday task, the heavy set of six squats for the second squat workout of week 6 of a 12 week training cycle. I may be tired and the workout terrible, it might be the 4 day in a row getting up before 5 to get to work. Those days, those workouts are my life, my training program. I may reach week 12 and set a PR, or I could endure and injury and have to modify my training or I could be gone tomorrow. Colleen, Zach, Kylie, mom and dad and my entire extended family, I want to say I love you just in case.
Erik Kier Mathison
I met Erik when my family moved to a small north central Minnesota town in 1982. We became friends and I called him my best friend growing up. We lived in a town of about 500 people and were in the same class, played the same sports and we went to church together. Which is to say we pretty much did everything together. Small town Minnesota in the 1980 there is no social media, internet, heck for the first few years we did not even have a television. Yes people in town had televisions and automobiles and running water, just my family chose to not have a TV. That means we rode around town on our bikes, hung out and played whatever we could think of. One game we called “ditchem” which is just a large game of tag on bicycles over the entire town. As we grew up we played football together in high school and began lifting weights together a passion that I would turn into a career. Erik learned to play the guitar and I always wished I could, but just never put the time in to learn. Erik did not continue lifting weights but his passion for guitar and music would serve him well later on.
We did not see each other all the time after we went off to school but we remained friends and got together whenever we could. One spring break we took a trip with another great friend to Dallas TX to visit another friend who was living down there. After college I was the best man in his wedding and a year later he was a groomsman in mine. I remember some other great times when he and others visited me when I was living in Austin, TX.
On September 8th 2016 the university hosted a concert in our brand new football stadium two days before the first home football game to celebrate. The next morning September 9th 2016 I was in the weight room cleaning and organizing in preparation for recruits to come through the next day when I looked up and saw my wife standing in the weight room. I knew this was not good and when she waved me over my heart sunk. She had been calling me but my phone was in the office. She informed me that a truck had come over the center line and struck Erik’s car head on that morning as he was taking his son to school and heading to work. He was killed instantly. Fortunately his son survived and is healthy to this day. In an instant my best friend had no tomorrows. As I write this it is September 8th 2021 and tonight the university is hosting another concert just days before the first football game. Tomorrow or as you read this today is September 9th 2021 and my friend has been gone for 5 years. I have learned a lot in the last 5 years. I know that I am blessed. I have had 5 more years to watch my children grow, love my wife and spend time with my parents and family. I need to remind myself often to “embrace the process” “stay in the moment” and ENJOY TODAY. I know that I am blessed, I do not know if I will have tomorrow but I have today. Erik, left a wife and 5 kids, his parents and sister. He did know how to enjoy the day. He worked in order to live he did not live to work. He worked hard but then went to enjoy his family. He was not perfect and certainly had his troubles. He went through a divorce and for the last 12 years was a recovering alcoholic. When I think of him I have a smile on my face. I know with his recovery he truly need to learn to take one day at a time and ENJOY TODAY. His guitar playing, music writing and performing was a way he was able to cope, express himself and enjoy each day. One memory I have is watching Erik read a book of Calvin & Hobbs cartoons. He loved Calvin & Hobbs and he would laugh hysterically out loud. It was pure joy, in the moment and an example, reminder to me to ENJOY TODAY.
The last time I spoke to him he called me when my son was playing baseball. I saw who it was and for a second I thought, my son is playing, I will call him back later. I thank God that I pushed that out of my mind and answered the phone and enjoyed the moment. We talked for 20 or 25 minutes and if I had ignored the call assuming we had plenty of more tomorrows I would not have that great memory. Erik also loved to ride motorcycle and that is when he felt most free. I also, enjoy riding and try to ride in his honor every year on his birthday and the anniversary of his death.
Tomorrow is guaranteed to no one. I have been blessed and growing old and gray is a blessing that many do not get to experience. There is no guarantee I will get that honor (well I have already achieved the “gray” part) but I will plan as if I will. I will keep strength training to keep myself, healthy, functional, strong, resilient and able to react with my environment and enjoy life. But more importantly, I will enjoy the process, enjoy the moment and appreciate that I have been able to watch my children grow and continue to be here. I am not guaranteed a tomorrow, so I will make sure I ENJOY TODAY! because I am blessed.