OPINION – I have a serious confession to make. It may forever change how my friends and family see me, but I need to get it off my chest.
I’ve started watching Michael Landon’s old “Highway to Heaven” TV series with my younger kids. And I’m liking it.
I certainly didn’t see that coming.
The irony is that this is the very same TV show that, nearly 30 years ago, would send me racing to change channels the moment its theme music began. Apparently, my younger self preferred edgy and irreverent content, or I had some kind of aversion to shows that dwelled on goodness instead of vice.
Either way, I was more than a little shocked when I jokingly put on an episode for my kids and ended up recognizing that it had something to offer me after all. The joke was on me.
The show is undeniably dated. The cars, hairstyles, clothing and musical score are pure cheesy 1980’s television that hasn’t aged particularly well.
The underlying messages, however, don’t seem nearly as anachronistic as I thought they would. The problems and solutions that were dealt with in each episode were the kinds of things that could affect regular folks in everyday life.
One episode that stuck with me was about a highly successful man whose work constantly kept him away from his kids. His kids had every toy and advantage their father’s money could buy them, but they didn’t have him in their lives.
I won’t spoil the episode for you, just in case you want to view it for yourself.
The reason I bring up this schmaltzy old TV series is that I recently learned of a very similar real life moment of truth involving a friend.
Like the father in the TV show, my friend is a highly talented, successful individual. Not everyone can do what he does. This has led to his employer wanting to utilize him more and more in his workplace.
My friend’s work hours and workload have been steadily increased to the point that he is required to spend more time away from his young family. To my friend’s credit, he has his priorities straight and informed his boss of his concerns that his work was taking him away from his kids.
He was told that, despite his concerns, the longer hours were now a part of his job. To this, my friend emphasized to his employer that his job was not as important to him as being able to be a part of his kids’ lives.
When his boss asked him if it was time to talk about parting ways with the company, my friend responded that he was ready to have that conversation. Not surprisingly, his boss backed down.
My friend’s courage of conviction is a rare thing today. It was one of the most gutsy and principled things I’ve ever heard.
It’s so easy to confuse what we do with who we are and to measure our success in monetary ways that exclude the most valuable things we’ll ever know.
This is a problem that many fathers have faced. I’ve been there myself.
I remember leaving the house before my family was awake, working all day and into the evening, and coming home just in time for the kids to be headed off to bed. I justified the long hours by the increasing amount of money I was making and telling myself that I was doing it all for them.
In reality, I was doing it for myself and the ego rush that came from what I viewed as success. It wasn’t until my wife pulled me aside one night and pointed out to me that my kids were growing up without me that I started to see the light.
When author Richard Paul Evans had a similar epiphany about how his success was keeping him from the lives of his children, he coined the phrase, “You’re exchanging diamonds for stones.”
Sure, a person doesn’t have to watch reruns of sentimental TV shows to come to this conclusion. Still, it’s amazing how many people choose to measure success in their lives through things rather than people.
Please understand that I’m not encouraging anyone to swear off material things and money and to live a pauper’s existence with one set of home-spun clothing. I am suggesting that when all is said and done, the emphasis we put on our possessions seems a bit misplaced considering how temporary they are.
I have the deepest admiration for those who are able to build wealth and who choose to use it to bless the lives of the people around them.
I also believe that those who measure their success by the amount of time they spend with loved ones are onto something.
Bryan Hyde is an opinion columnist specializing in current events viewed through the lens of common sense. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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