As I have gotten older, I am surprised at how much I have learned. I have learned that we never stop learning, and that certain truths are true no matter how much we deny them.
I have learned that the extra mile is seldom crowded. In Biblical times, the Roman soldier could demand certain people carry his armor for exactly one mile; no more or no less. One can only imagine the animosity this must have caused. But it was Jesus who told us to not only go one mile, but go an extra mile. I have learned this is true whether doing for the ones you love most, or yes, even for those that are opposed to you. The extra mile may be a little longer, but I have learned it is a lot more pleasant stroll.
I have learned you don’t have to be great to be great. I think about a Sunday school teacher I had many years ago whose only claim to greatness was his dedicated service to a group of teenaged boys at the Baptist Church. I think about some of my favorite teachers from years past, who made a difference in my life. They made this poor little boy from Second Street feel just as important as the richest kid in class. When I think about the great people in my life, I have learned they are just the ordinary people doing extraordinary things for their fellow man.
I have learned it takes a lot of will power for an individual to decide that something is wrong or immoral, and to act on that belief when the law declares it legal and society deems it acceptable. Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t make it right. I have learned you don’t need to go along to get along.
I have learned it is so easy to waste our lives. It is so easy to take for granted the beautiful fall trees or the laughter of your children on Christmas morning. I have learned we can waste our life by planning for our lives. It is sometimes easier to exist than to live.
I have learned that a birthday card on which your baby child has scribbled “I love you” takes a whole new meaning when that child is gone. Losing a child changed my life forever. And what I learned from that seems to be the hardest lesson of all. I have learned to love the journey instead of worrying about the detours caused by the bumpy roads along the way. It was along this journey that I realized the joy of a grandchild sitting in my lap. Somewhere along this road, I learned it was more important to spend an evening wading the Elkhorn than attending a meeting. Somewhere along this journey through life, I learned that those who are the richest are the ones whose pleasures are the cheapest. And I have learned that life’s greatest treasures are a loving family and someone you can call a “best friend.”
I have learned to live life as a terminal illness and to take one day at a time. And I’ve learned that the exam comes at the very end. I have learned to live as though every day may be my last, and it very well may be. And I have learned that no one ever said, on their death bed, “I wish I had spent more time at the office.”
And I have learned that as long as I live, I will keep on learning.
George Lusby is the former Scott County judge-executive. “The Best of Crawfish and Minnows,” is available at the News-Graphic office.