No Poker — A Personal Story

Dear VIP,

In 2009 Australian author Bronnie Ware wrote an online article called Regrets of the Dying about her time as a hospice worker.

If you haven’t read that article, you can read it here:

Do you know what the number one regret of the dying is? It’s that they didn’t live a life that was true to themselves … they led a life others expected of them.

And now I just want you to pause and reflect and ask yourself this question:

If the world ended in the next 5 minutes, would you have lived a life that was true to yourself?

You may be wondering what this has to do with poker and, admittedly, maybe not so much. I don’t plan on posting this email publicly and if you’re looking for poker today … stop reading now.

Today I have to tell you a personal story. Originally the plan was to talk about Tasmanian Devils and nipples but that will have to wait.

Today I have something else that I have to get out of me.

Like most young boys, my dad has always been my hero.

My mom and dad divorced when I was a year old. I have no memory of them ever being married or living together.

Because of my dad’s job delivering bread to local shops and stores, I would see him every Wednesday and Sunday.

Those days were always my favorite days. I remember waiting on the front porch with so much excitement I would almost burst when I saw his red Suzuki Samurai pulling into the drive-way.

He’s tall and broad-shouldered with an 80’s porn star mustache. He’s quick to laugh and he’s never met a stranger.

For as long as I have memory he’s been a volunteer fireman, now the chief.

For at least the past 15 years he has raised money for toys-for-tots, dressed up as Santa Claus, and delivered them in the firetruck to the poorest kids in his town.

And I’ve always known he’s always loved me more than anything else in the world. It’s something I just know in my bones.

One of my earliest memories is him and I taking a nap together and just feeling … safe.

The safest I had ever felt.

But my life has not been the most stable one. My mom has been married 6 times and, when I was in the 6th grade, we (my mom, myself, my sister, and my step-dad) moved four hours away from the rest of my family.

There was a custody battle that went to court.

My grandparents from both sides were at the courthouse (I still remember how they were dressed) but they weren’t talking to each other. There were no smiles.

The judge asked me point-blank where I wanted to live and, to my shame, I told him I wanted to live with my mom.

I can only imagine the pain my dad must have felt that day … the sense of rejection from the person he loved most in the world. It’s something I empathise with today only because I have my own little girls.

And now, as an adult, I can say that something has always been missing from our relationship. I can only describe it as a lack of depth.

If I had to guess why, I would guess that since that day in course he’s always been afraid I would reject him again and he would once again realize his biggest fear. When you take a risk and you get badly injured, your mind remembers the pain and will seek to avoid it at all costs.

I’ve always day-dreamed that one day him and I would go on a road trip together. Our relationship would deepen … many tears would be shed, we would bond, and then, well, that’s just the way it would be for the rest of our lives.

I have dreamed of this a lot, more than you can imagine.

After all he’s only 57 … there’s still plenty of time left.

Except now there probably isn’t.

In mid-January I got a text from my Uncle at around midnight telling me to call him.

My dad was in the hospital and they had found a mass on his lung.

And it’s cancer. And it’s extremely aggressive.

5% of people with small cell carcinoma last 5 years … the median life expectancy is 2.5.

He has some things going for him that alters the data … they caught it early and he’s relatively young.

But it’s still an uphill fight.

He’s already been through chemo and radiation. I have heard a man I thought was invincible bawl like a baby on the phone because the pain is just too much.

And, because of Covid, I have only had the chance to see him once since the diagnosis.

We talk everyday on the phone but it just isn’t enough. It still lacks the depth I have yearned for for so long.

I want to serve him and show him how much I’ve always loved him. How much he means to me.

I want to hold him, tell him it’s all going to be ok, and make him feel safe. Just like he did when I was little.

But I can’t.

And time’s running out.

Since there’s no great way to tie this email up, I’m just going to close with this:

You are the author of your life story.

The responsibility to write your story the way you wish is on you and you alone.

The clock is ticking and you must take action.

There isn’t another human on planet earth who will overcome your fears for you so that you can make your daydreams your reality.

And if you keep kicking the can down the road…

Your story will not end in the way you dream it will.

Trust me, I know.

One day at the end of this existence you may be hit with a freight train like realization that you didn’t live a life that was true to yourself.

And you may feel a sorrow that is too deep for words. And it would be your biggest regret.

Please don’t let that happen.

As Eleanor Roosevelt famously quoted, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Today is your chance.

Pressing send on this email scares the living death out of me.

But here we are.

Coach Brad

P.S. If something is on your heart that you need to get out … hit the reply button and tell me your story.

I would love to listen.