Seize the Day

New York City Panorama

When someone close passes on people often say think of the memories. And of course to have memories, you have to take opportunities. Maybe we can’t do everything that presents itself, however regular visitors here will know that life and learning was made much richer this past year as a result of me looking for and taking unusual opportunities. Going boating, making a record, and delivering a successful unconference are just three examples of this. And my friend Alison Chisnell is now literally running with the opportunity baton too – good luck Alison!

I’d like to conclude this week with a happy memory all about opportunity. It goes something like this…

It is Summer 2008 and Dad is driving us home from the airport. Carole, Keira and I have just spent a fantastic three weeks in Southern California and the buzz of conversation and stories in the car is great fun. Dad is telling us how as a child, the USA appeared only in picture books and newsreels. A far off destination reserved for the very rich and famous. He recalled lots of black and white photos of the Flat Iron building and finished his reminiscing saying he doubted he’d ever see it in real life. Dad dropped us home and went on his way.

Just after Dad left, Carole said to me, ‘You should take your Dad to New York. Why not go for his birthday?’ Her offer was sincere and I took it straight away. I called Dad who excitedly agreed and plans were made. Dad was keen to keep arrangements simple and I cheated a little. I upgraded our flights, booked a smart hotel, reserved priority tickets for the Empire State Building and sorted out a visit to Madison Square Gardens to see an ice hockey match. All on the quiet like 😉

We had a fabulous trip. New York City is chock full of sights to see and I reckon we did them all and more besides. The pace was frantic and we both survived on as little sleep as we could manage. As keen as school kids to leave no subway, no iconic building (including of course the Flat Iron building), no nothing undiscovered. Our visit coincided with a Banksy invasion too and we hit the streets in search of some fantastic works he had just painted and are long since covered up.

New York City Banksy

You remember I mentioned an ice hockey game? Well we went to see the New York Rangers obligingly beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in a nail biting fight to the finish. We had the best seats in the house with snacks and beers on tap. And at the first period interval this happened:

Madison Square Gardens Score Board

Dad’s name lit up the score board and 20,000 people sang Happy Birthday to him. Unforgettable? Unforgettable!

On our return I remember speaking to a good friend about our trip. Adrian said to me ‘what you had there was a rare opportunity for some Father and Son time that many of us don’t have, and you took it, well done’. The truth is I didn’t take this opportunity, it was given to me and I am forever grateful.

I’m motivated by this memory and determined to make 2012 a year of making things happen, an unforgettable year. Would you care to join me?


Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

10 thoughts on “Seize the Day”

  1. Hi Doug

    Such a lovely post. I now living quite a distance from my family (they are all in Dublin) I am guilty of letting life get in the way of making time to get home to Dublin. My Dad visits me all the time but Mum doesn’t get the opportunity as my sister is ill and she stays with her. So after reading your post I am going to shoot on down to Dublin this Sunday and spend some time with them and try and do this a whole lot more this year.

    Thank you for the lovely post and the pictures are fab. You are a great storyteller


  2. Inspirational Doug. Your description of the ice hockey moment bought a tear to my eye. Experiences and opportunities like these create great memories which stay with us long after those that we created them with pass. I have made a mental note to make more of these too. Thanks for the inspiration.

  3. Blimey Doug….sat here on the sofa with tears pouring down my face. I am very lucky as both my parents are still alive (and I see them way too much, ask my husband) but my sister died suddenly 2 years ago.

    Honestly, it IS shit. And there are hard times……but we had a lovely funeral (don’t ever play ‘Hallelujah’ within my hearing) and a special memorial service later. And the biggest thing is (and everyone says this) how the most surprising people are the loveliest about it and that makes a huge difference to how you get through.

    And wasn’t your father lucky to have such a lovely son? Or do you get the children you deserve?

  4. Great post. Brought back my memories of taking my parent’s to New York getting on for ten years ago now. I am lucky as my parent’s are still woth me; my Dad still talks about the Cricle Line Boat Trip around Manhattan!

  5. Wow Doug – great story and what a wonderful opportunity for both you and your Dad. Sounds like you had a memorable trip that neither of you will ever forget and be forever grateful for.

  6. Thanks folks – your feedback is lovely, very supportive. Keep taking the opportunities and great things will keep happening.

  7. Fantastic story Doug. As you go through life seizing opportunities with those you love and who are close you won’t find yourself facing a bereavement full of regrets thinking I wish I’d….

    A friend told me years ago to have ‘no regrets’ after he’d spent a week in Israel with his ageing parents and about 20 even more ageing friends of theirs. He said if they’d all died that year he would be very sad but he wouldn’t have regretted not making time for his parents. It really struck a chord with me and ever since then if I’ve felt like not acting on something because I’m really tired or doing too much Nick’s words come to mind.

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