21 Things I Learned From Singing “Livin’ on a Prayer” at Karaoke
“The act of dying is one of the acts of life.”
All inhibitions set aside. Beer in the air and whiskey on the breath. My wife and I looked to one another and quietly asked the same question, “What song?” We know each other extremely well and without whispering a word of deliberation, we knew that the choice was simple. In perfect synchronization, we nodded our heads, smiled, and calmly said “Livin’ on a Prayer”.
I met my wife 10 years ago and during our time together, Bon Jovi has always held a special place in our hearts. Just sitting here, I can feel the rush in the air as I recall sitting in the back of my friend’s car as he drove us to our first Bon Jovi concert.
Even though we were much younger than we are now, we knew that there was something special about this night. We weren’t yet “official” as a couple but it was obvious that things were happening. Barely knowing each other, we grew more than any couple should and on that night, our relationship and our love of Bon Jovi were forged. On that night, we were “Livin’ on a Prayer”.
In 4 minutes we set the mood for how the rest of the night was going to play out. Starting with “Tommy” and “Gina” and ending with hope, “Livin’ on a Prayer” reminded me of how much fun the last 10 years have been.
At the conclusion of “Livin’ on a Prayer”, the room filled itself with a shower of high-intensity cheers and applause. My wife sat down, and my brother-in-law made his way to the front to show the crowd that he too had the heart and voice of an angel. The song began and before I realized that I wasn’t taking my seat, I made my way back to the stage. To my delight, he had chosen a personal favorite, “Suspicious Minds”.
I was completely submerged in the atmosphere.
As I sang, I envisioned Elvis Presley swiveling his hips and without even realizing it, so too did mine. I swung the mic around and danced like a fool. If I had a scarf to toss, a semi-lucky member of the audience would’ve been reluctantly taking it home that night. And this, much like the duet I performed with my wife reminded me of years gone by. It felt amazing. Completely loose. Completely free. Amazing.
I don’t do this often. Or at least, not often enough. I’m a planner and find myself unable to think any other way. My wife lives for now and I live for 5 minutes from now. I was raised this way. As a child, I remember watching commercials instructing me to prepare for tomorrow today, and something must’ve set in because that’s what I do. Not a week goes by where she doesn’t point to her tattoo in an effort to remind me to “Be Present”.
I’m not alone.
Too often is tomorrow more important than today. We aim to align everything that we do so that one day we will have the life that we dream about. We convince ourselves that “As soon as __________ happens, I’ll be able to do ___________”. It doesn’t just happen at the expense of good times and karaoke, it happens everywhere.
It happens each time we tell our children “I can’t right now” or our spouses that we will be home late because we are working. Or in the instances that we put off exercising today until tomorrow so that we can finish whatever we aim to accomplish. Even our happiness suffers every time we tell it to be patient with our efforts. Tomorrow has got us trained just like Pavlov trained his dogs.
“Happiness is not something to postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.”
And why? Why do we find ourselves so caught up in tomorrow? What is it about preparing for tomorrow that circumvents all that we do today?
Worry. Our worry causes our blindness just as fog causes vision impairment. We worry that tomorrow won’t be the way we want it sculpted and that without tomorrow, today will be pointless. Our worry causes us to do irrational things and forgo the things that we enjoy now. It causes those “If I do this, then that will happen” moments and it causes them without consideration of how we will feel.
Worry is “Livin’ on a Prayer”. Worry looks out for only one, itself and does whatever it takes to see it taken care of.
Tragically, only in death do we see the repercussions of our worry.
My family received a call this week with the news that our oldest member was not doing well. We responded as we all respond and quickly made our way to his bedside to see him one final time.
The moment was surreal.
I took my son over to him and watched intently as he looked at a situation that he surely didn’t understand. They stared at one another and did so in complete silence. 85 years separated these two and they will be forever linked in my mind to this one moment.
I watched and quietly took in the complexity of the moment. I found myself unable to control my emotions as a tear made its way down my cheek. It was apparent that as my son looked on, he knew that something was wrong. As I sat there in silence, I reminded myself of all that I am grateful for in life. Worry wasn’t on the list.
I went to bed that night knowing that this was probably the last time I would see him alive. I think that my son knew this earlier but couldn’t find a way to articulate it to me.
Death is not “Livin’ on a Prayer”.
Death is without worry.
Like nothing else that we know, death has an interesting way of injecting perspective into our lives. Death is a reminder that what we do today affects every facet of what happens tomorrow and if we only worry about tomorrow, today will pass us by unnoticed.
Above that, death wants us to know these 21 things:
- Death is not sad or tragic. Death is an honoring of life.
- Nothing is infinite. Treat everything and every moment as such.
- Time is precious. Use it to your advantage.
- We must follow our passion to find our purpose.
- Life’s true purpose is serving something bigger than ourselves.
- We must learn from our mistakes when given a second chance.
- Our legacy is left through those we touch and the things we do.
- Giving is better than receiving.
- It is unwise to put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
- No one will take better care of us than ourselves.
- We mustn’t ignore the seemingly unimportant things in life.
- Work must not consume our lives.
- Our opinion of ourselves is all that matters.
- Karma exists.
- The amount of money in our bank accounts does not determine the kind of people that we are.
- There is no place in life for hatred, anger, and contempt.
- The same goes for worry.
- We must sing loud when no one is around and louder when others are listening.
- True love does exist if we open our hearts to find it.
- It’s ok to like Bon Jovi.
- It’s even better to sing the lyrics to “Livin’ on a Prayer”
Cheers to your success,