Skip to content

“The world spins, but not around you!” – Jasper Comstock

bowlingSo frequently we look at events only through the lens of how they affect us.

We view and judge traffic, weather, tragedies and triumphs to the degree that they directly impact our lives. Eventually, though, we wake to realize that although events may leave a significant mark on our lives, they are likely shaping the lives of others, too.

This past weekend all my siblings came together to celebrate our Dad’s 70th birthday.

He is an amazing man. He’s been a great husband for more than 45 years. He’s been an amazing Dad to six kids and now Grandpa to 16! He’s struggled with Parkinson’s disease  for more than two decades. Because of it, Dad is unable to work, is unable to walk, is losing the ability to speak, but remains positive in his attitude, certain in faith and absolutely loved by his family and friends.

I told him recently that I admired how positive he has always stayed in the midst of his disease. Dad’s response was that he realizes that life is much less about what happens to him and much more about how he can use his experiences to positively benefit others. My friends, this is a critical realization not only for a guy celebrating 70 years of living, but for each of us as we try to grow, succeed, impact and thrive in our lives.

My life is a perfect example. I spent most of my life thinking the world revolved around me.

I was sure my Mom liked doing my wash, taking me to school, picking me up, driving me to practice, going shopping for me, helping with homework, cooking dinner and putting me to bed. (I realize now it was was done in total selfless love for all six of her kids — and was often far from easy or fun.)

I was the one who got burned as a kid. I was the one who went through the surgeries, got scarred and had to learn to live a new reality.  [What I failed to realize was that my brother, who saved my life, got burned, too. My two sisters who were home were scared waking up to an explosion, running out of their burning house, and beholding the surreal image of their badly burned brother. I realize that all my sibling lost their house, their parents for months and a piece of their childhood.]

More recently, I saw that I was the one who got delayed on flights, jet-lagged in travel and came home exhausted. [I now see so clearly that my wife’s travel is significantly harder than mine. Although she may not know the TSA officers by first name, she knows all of the teachers up at school by their first name, manages a very busy house, holds everything together all the time that I’m gone and has every right to be a little tired when I come home.]

I was sure that the world revolved around me. Experiences, my family, my faith and my awesome dad and life have taught me that the world does indeed spin, but just not around me!

Today, my friends, in the midst of your traffic jams, carpool runs, work deadlines and relationship challenges hold onto the truth that life is much less about what happens to you and much more about how you can use your experiences to positively benefit others. [Tweet this.]

What a gift to know that regardless of how the world spins, or what difficulties come into your life, that the best is yet to come.

Thanks for the reminder, Dad.

My friends, help me celebrate Dad’s birthday! Sharing someone who has taught you a valuable lesson, who they were and what the lesson was!  Share in the comments below.

0 replies on “The World Revolves – But Not Around You”

My mother has always been my inspiration. 50 years ago, at age 7, I lost my father to a massive heart attack. He left behind 6 children and one on the way. My mother raised us by herself, putting our wants and needs before her own. As an adult I realize how lonely she must have been for adult companionship and assistance with her family. I realize the challenges and choices she made to keep us all together as a family. Life wasn’t always easy for us but she did the best she could and raised 7 successful children, all successful in our own special way. Thank you so much! I love you mom!

John,

My dad is my inspiration! Thirty-two years ago when my dad was a very healthy and active 27 years old, he was seriously injured in a motor vehicle collision while stationed in Germany. When he woke up he learned he would never walk again nor be able to complete his activities of daily living without assistance. He is a quadriplegic and struggles with Traumatic Brain Injury. Instead of being bitter and angry about his life circumstances he is feisty, positive, humorous and ever hopeful. He gives the nursing staff who care for him all kinds of grief and they dish it right back with a smile. Life isn’t about what happens to you but what you make of it. My dad makes himself and others laugh. For the past 20 years or so, he’s said the only thing he wants for Christmas is to get up and walk again. Life isn’t about what happens to you as much as it is a lens or filter with which you see and interact with the world around you. My dad channels hope in everything he does. I admire my dad not so much because of the concrete “lessons” he’s taught me over the years but because of his attitude. If he can remain hopeful for 32 years in the face of insurmountable odds than surely I, too, can remain hopeful during some of my most troubling times. Happy 70th Birthday to your father!!

Happy Birthday Mr. O’Leary!!
My Dad taught me many valuable lessons about life. Things he made me do as a youngster, I valued more as an adult. We were lucky enough to have ponies and horses growing up. If Dad came home late after work he would drive down to the stable and check the stall for my horse. If there wasn’t enough water, or the floor was wet and soiled he would drive up to the house and wake me up and tell me to go take care of my horse. That it was a helpless animal and depended upon me. He would first ask though if I’d had fun that day riding and playing with my horse, and I always answered “yes”.
So as an adult I knew what responsibility was; if I took on a new puppy, a step-child, and later a child of my own, I knew along with the fun there was going to be lots of responsibilities. My Dad has been gone for 38 years, and I thank him for teaching me the value of accepting responsibilities.

Happy Birthday Mr. O’Leary!!,
John my mom was my inspiration in life. She had a ruff childhood and marriage to my dad, he was physical abusive to her. After was grown and married use to. Beg her to leave dad her reply was not giving up the ship. She also said if she was to leave him then we would not have a home to come back to visit. When she was given the diagnosis of cancer, I said this is not fair. Her remark was nothing here on earth is fair and will only be fair in heaven. The night she passed away use 3 girls were sitting on her bed singing ole time gospel songs to her. Yes dad did mellow out and apologized to mom.
During the summers she would teach us Bible stories and learned the books of the Bible and the different groups. We would have Bible study every night after supper. Just so thankful to have her to be my mom.

Thanks so much for this wonderful blog!! I always share it’ with all my family!
My dad also had Parkinson’s Diease. He has been “home” for almost 15 years already! He had been a Protestant minister all his life and PD really slowed him down. He also had macular degeneration so lost most of his sight. Yet he had memorized so much scripture and was still able to share a prayer and scripture with others at the nursing home when his voice was strong enough. He never gave up sharing the Good News of Jesus. He always had a big smile on his face even in difficult times. I think he also taught us that the world doesn’t revolve around us but it was never put into words as beautifully as you do it John!! Thanks and BD blessings and love to your dad on his 70th!

Becky, thanks for your sweet note and story about your dad. What a blessing our fathers’ have been our lives. Keep celebrating the lessons he’s taught you and thanks for ALL you do. J

So thankful fo ryour insight and thankful for your dad and family who supported and taught you all that you share. Happy Birthday to your father, for he and all he and your family have been and are – are making an impact on the world and many!

Christina thanks for taking the time to leave your sweet note and for ALL you do. I will definitely pass on your good wishes to my family. J

My Mom was the most quietly effective person I knew. She had MS and didn’t complain, didn’t ask “why me” and was kind to everyone. She died at age 64. I’m so grateful to model my life around her courage and ability to show grace when her body became a shell of her former self. Thanks, Mom. You continue to be an inspiration.

I absolutely love reading your posts every day…You give me a reality check and you are always exactly right with your message.

Thanks, Mary, for taking the time to share your kind words. They mean more than you know. Remember the best is yet to come 😉 J

Well said! I needed to hear this and also forwarded to my husband.
My late Grandma and Mom are great examples of patience and selfless love.
My Mom was always there for me and my brothers and Grandma taught us about Jesus.
Wish they rubbed off on me a little more.

My Daddy also was stricken with Parkinson’s. He was a very strong German Texas rancher. I watched his body weaken as he battled this ugly disease. But his spirit remained strong and he taught me much about being gracious in spirit…telling me “Little Bit, ole horses wear out and have to die of something”!!! He’d also tell me when I’d chide him to keep fighting, a cure was just around the corner “Well then, I’d just have to get something else to die from wouldn’t I?” He taught me to accept the things I couldn’t change in life, not to simply endure, but to make lemonade out of the lemons. His last words to me were: “Little Bit, I’m not a bit afraid to die, heaven is going to be a wonderful place”.
Please give your Daddy a warm hug for me. He reminds me so much of my own sweet Daddy….who lived to be 82!! He’d say that anything over the 3 score and 10 the good Lord promised us was gravy!! So my Daddy had 12 years of gravy. May your Daddy have many more years of gravy too!

What a beautiful man — thanks for sharing his wisdom and his words and his blessings. And thank you, I hope my dad keeps enjoying the gravy too!!! J

Give yourself credit, Michelle! “The power of one” is real — you touch people everyday. Thx for taking the time to share your note and for ALL you do! J

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Live Inspired Together is a community of friends changing the world together, starting with their own. In a world that often focuses on negativity, John O’Leary - Live Inspired shares the other side of the story through his member-supported channels (essays, Live Inspired Podcast, video, webcasts, social platforms) to connect our community and share inspiration and actions to live it. Support now.