Two weeks ago, I sat in Madison Square Garden and listened to living legend Billy Joel tiptoe into his masterpiece, Vienna. In my mind, I was immediately transported to a wonderful place in the past, while being acutely aware of the beauty of the present and feeling optimistic about the future. So much has been written about the passage of time and how it truly is our most valuable commodity. Time does not play favorites. At birth, we are each handed an unmarked debit card and it is up to each individual person to develop and employ our best strategies to maximize the time we have, to set priorities. Vienna is Billy’s opus to time and the notion of carpe diem and the striking of one’s personal balancing act between living for today while planning and preparing for the future.
My job as a planner is to present my clients with the gift of time, or rather to give it back to them. It is my responsibility to understand their goals and objectives through focused listening and help them optimize their resources by navigating tax laws, market conditions and the uncertainty of a host of threats that life can present. Let’s face it, successful people are keenly aware of their strengths and unique abilities. These strengths are often innate and most frequently fostered and developed as a direct result of the time allocated to them as priorities. I cherish the role of trusted advisor because it allows me to focus on my strengths as a listener, relationship builder and planner and allows those that I care most deeply about - my family, friends, and clients - to focus on their own.
Since the 10/9 Billy Joel show, the subject of time has been foremost in my mind. The concert represented my daughter’s first Billy concert and the 36th anniversary of my first exposure to Vienna with Kathy as 17-year-olds at MSG on October 18th, 1986. The song was as perfect as it was all those years ago and yet somehow impossibly better, given Megan’s presence and the life perspective that Kathy and I have accumulated along the way. The evening also provided me with the time to reflect on the impending visit of my dear friend and brother, Craig Frost.
I wrote about Craig, here in 2019. I shared the fact that he was 16 months removed from a glioblastoma diagnosis and the most fearless, optimistic person I have ever known. He remains as such and then some. During his visit in 2019, I had the unenviable task of telling Craig that Megan was in the midst of her own cancer treatment for retinoblastoma. It was one of the tougher tasks of my life as I could not leave it unsaid and I could not imagine being Craig and having to hear that.
Carpe diem! Craig arrived at our home on October 11th and the two hugged one another for the first time since their respective diagnoses. It was long overdue, but Megan was out of town for each of Craig’s last visits. I am blessed to report that Craig is 54 months removed from his diagnosis. The median survival time is 14-18 months with this dreaded disease, but don’t tell him that. He is too busy driving the East Coast, skiing Big Sky Montana, playing golf and ice hockey and being present for his three sons. Megan is now a high school junior, three years cancer free, thriving in high school and exploring nursing programs. They are kindred spirits and are a joy to see together.
Slow down you crazy child…none of us are guaranteed tomorrow and none of us were promised a smooth ride. Craig and Megan are living their best lives, becoming their best selves, leading by example, and showing us the way. As Billy suggests in the song, the destination is important, but the journey is what life is all about. Today is our Megan’s 17th birthday. She passed her road test first thing this morning and our bird now has wings. Fly high, my baby!
Authored By: Rob Armstrong
Inspired By: Craig Frost & Megan Armstrong