By Gerald Daniels
My dad recently asked if I would like to go with him over to Lost City and look around a little bit. We decided to cut a trail early Saturday morning on Father’s Day weekend, with no set plan or schedule to govern our day. My father was born and raised around the hills and hollers of Eastern Oklahoma, and the closer we got to Cherokee County the more excited he became. He pointed through the tree lines and across the hills as we drove and relived stories of people he had known, events he participated in, and of the many places he fondly remembered. Our day would have been just another trip down memory lane had it not been for one statement that my father would make early that morning.
Lost City is a beautiful community that is nestled on the side of a hill between Highway 51 and Fourteen Mile creek just north of Hulbert in Cherokee County. At eighty-four years old my father still knows many of these places like the back of his hand. He mentioned wanting some rocks earlier in the week to line pots he was going to plant in so he gave the directions and in no time at all we were on the bank of a rock lined creek. I hopped out of the truck, grabbed the bucket and filled it full of rocks of all different sizes so the pots would drain properly. I looked up the creek and he was at the edge of the clear water washing his hands. I set the bucket down and walked over to splash around with him. It was then and there that he made the statement, “Take care of your life.” We were at eye level kneeling down, and I asked him what he meant. He said it again, “Take care of your life.” Then he added, “It’s the only one you got.”
My father is not one to get philosophical, or mushy, and does not mince his words. He loves me and is proud of me, but I think he wanted to remind me that each of our lives are filled with many twists and turns and we need to know our way around, where we came from, and how to get back there from time-to-time. In the fast paced life we live it is important to be reminded to not get so far away that we can’t find our way back.
We crossed the Grand River Dam heading up the back roads through Okay and Wagoner on our way home. While driving, I thought a lot about my father’s statement and it occurred to me that a large part of taking care of my life involves taking care of my purpose. Building a new business that is growing exponentially has proven to be a great challenge on one hand while becoming another opportunity for fulfilling my purpose on the other. I’ve learned that life and work merge together while fulfilling my purpose — to help people make sense of the difficult issues of life. In fact, my business is growing and becoming more profitable as a result of me being on purpose.
My father knew that when I went to prison that he may never see me again as a son who would live as a free man. He was not a perfect father and I was not a perfect son, but he has truly come to appreciate the value of purpose in his son’s life. Rusty Daniel, my father, is facing the mortality of life having never known his purpose for being here. He is a good man nonetheless who has worked hard most all of his life. I can only imagine what would have been different for our family if my father would have found and fulfilled his purpose. It is sad to see so much missed potential in anyone because they are unwilling to do something new or in a different way. It is especially tough to see it in your own family.
What would be different for you or for your family if you knew your purpose, and acted upon it?