SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 301: “Live Life To The Fullest”

Tanner is cut, and bold in his conviction. The kind of guy that looks at home in a gym, the hub of self-absorbed culture and petri dish for assumed vanity. A place where three times a week I teach spinning. Lucky for me, that the beliefs of the majority of my class are that of accepting friendship. For this reason, it is always a pleasure to enter the doors of this ‘look at my abs’ nation.

An assessment that I admit I make in jest of my own insecurity as I gaze over the stored fat fuel that is accumulation in what I have been becoming proud to label as my “One Pack.”

But still… even with the extra fuel, I boast that I can maintain quite a cadence on a bike. And now, just celebrating my fifty-first birthday, that is good enough for me.

So in my final analysis, the gym I work at is OK. Sure, there are those who are walled into their own shells. But on the whole, I’ve met some very well-adjusted people. And hat’s off to them for bettering their state of health. There is no sin in that.

Tanner is such a man. A loving father of five, a survivor of economic turn down and target of life’s judgments, he has learned to grab onto every moment for all it has to offer. Yet in his powerfully forward thinking there is an air of compassion. “Live life to the fullest… Be positive… Motivating and have a life that is structured. Know that the sky is the limit… you can do whatever you want to do… and accept that there is a divine spirit.”

We talk for a while about this point of “living life to the fullest.” For some may say, “Sound like a selfish claim, that is dismissive to the trials of others.” But in reading Tanner’s interpretation of the statement, we have to listen to the way he weaves it. “Live life to the fullest… Be positive… Motivating and have a life that is structured.”

Tanner speaks of being positive and motivating. If you were siting with us, you would fully understand what Tanner is feeling as he says this. Bottom line, Tanner is not absorbed in himself; he is doing what he can to live a life that can be an example to others. “Know that the sky is the limit… you can do whatever you want to do… and accept that there is a divine spirit.” He says. And, I promise you he means it. Not so much as a reminder to himself… but as an understanding outreach to us, his neighbors.

“Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do anything. Be strong. Always challenge yourself to get to the next level.” He inspires.

Tanner is a listener, so I have to push his thinking a little in asking, “’What would you say to the person who is having hard times finding the first step… Who might be saying, ‘It’s easy for them to say it, but they don’t know what my life is like.’”

He responds without holding back. “Stop placing blame. Don’t blame others… you can’t blame society… and you can’t blame the government… You have to look at yourself in the mirror and realize that you have control over your situation. As soon as you take self-responsibility… you enable yourself… you can’t blame others.”

I press again. “What about all those out there that are in situations that are truly beyond their control; genocides and other atrocities? Where people are trying, yet the world around them is conspiring in against them. Is there any advice you can give them?”

Again he charges self-reliance. “Number one is you have to be motivated. No one told us life is going to be easy. What makes us master life is how we deal with difficult times.

I’ll admit, I grew up where I never had a want and a need, but as I became an adult and I saw and experienced struggle, and I feel strongly deep inside that we can conquer any struggle that is put in front of us.

As far as what is going on in the world… that is going to happen. It has been going on since the beginning of time. We have to look at the situation, and as hard as it is to do, look at it in a positive aspect.

I’ve traveled the world, and the media has taught that in certain places of the world I would be killed. But when I went to those places no one harmed me. Yea, they were poor, but there was food in the trees, there was a lake full of fish… These were hard-working and happy people… and I did not see anyone hungry.

So we have to educate ourselves and not believe what the media teaches us.

We all go through hard times, but we have to learn from them and just keep pushing forward.”

This point has been driven home so many different ways in 365: The teenager who was shot two times as a child in an act of Anti-Semitism. His outlook of forgiveness and strength is awe-inspiring. The Croatian man, who during the years of genocide, walked his family his family hundreds of mile to safety; who with a smile of compassion on his face, holds only gratitude for his looking at the positive choices of his situation. The x-gangster, whom admits that at one time had no remorse in any way and of a terrible childhood. A man who has turned his life to God and walks the streets in serving his fellow-man is whatever capacity he can.

The list goes on and on, but in all, the message is clear. Man has the ability to overcome anything and to love with the purest of intent.

Tanner calls it will power, destiny and the results of working hard.

“What’s funny, is I think the world is getting better…” Tanner pauses, “…I think we are eating better, we are more cautious of the fuel that we burn… we are more cautious not to leave our lights on… we are conserving water… buying power efficient cars and items for our homes.

I think we are heading on the right path. The Internet is here to educate us… people are reading more books… We are now more conscious of about what’s around us.

We are heading in the right direction… and we are using our words. People are actually speaking out now and educating each other.

I don’t think we are heading into destruction what-so-ever.”

In many ways we have all been singing the same tune. Some in animated optimism, others in reserved fear. What is inspiring is this; that in all, the sum vision is of living with ownership of a united hope regarding the years ahead. And a unanimous dream that we can come closer together as a people.

I call us “The Silent Majority.”

We are all seeking the same truth after all; a truth that can be cannot be fully defined by many a religion, government or culture. A truth however that is already at the core of who we are as species human.

Tanner talks of his parenting, “’I tell my kids, ‘You are in control of your own destiny. Don’t look for any man, or any woman, to lift your spirit… to tell you that you’re great, or you’re good. You look in the mirror and lift your own spirit; number one. And never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. You can do whatever you want to do.’”

My hope in what we chose to do is palpable? That we learn to love our neighbor as ourselves, “The Golden Rule” that has so often come up in our 365 conversations.

Tanner concludes in exposing his daily affirmation. “Every morning when I get up I say this little speech: I’m Alive… I’m Alert… And I Feel Great…

I say it loud and alive.

As a society, I think we need to stay away from the media and look toward one another. To not get hooked on Facebook or Twitter… walking around like a zombies.

Appreciate the birds and the world around us.

And Find things that lift our spirit.

I think in this world it is easy to blame someone… or yourself. In my career I’m always hearing people complaining. They complain first… over small itty-bitty things.

If we blame others, or ourselves, we can’t get past core issues. Our society needs to stop blaming, and to take personal responsibility for our actions. Even if we have done something extremely wild when we were kids… We have to accept that’s in the past… and just go on. But a lot of people live in the past.”

One word comes to mind in reviewing my time spent with Tanner. Sure, he is a motivator; and absolutely, he is successful by the world’s standards. But in talking between the lines, and hearing of what he reveals to me about his life history, Tanner screams one powerful word in all that he says… Empathy.

I will not sugar coat reality. Absolutely, the world is filled with the greatest of wonders and the most disheartening of actions. But in all, several questions bear strong in navigating us to greener pastures.

In cracking our eyes at each dawn might we ponder. “What have I overcome? What am I thankful for? And how do I apply my life history to helping, or at least opening a door to a better understanding of my fellow human?”

From there, quite possibly, we can as Tanner suggests, “Live Life To The Fullest.”