Something To Think About

Randy Brameier lived 13,904 days. He died 14 years ago at age 38. Diabetes gradually overtook him.

He was a friend and colleague. We would leave the office at least twice a day to go on “jaunts” to buy coffee and snacks or lunch, but the underlying purpose of our walks was to talk about and clear our minds of the insane things we had been working on that particular day as news reporters in New Jersey shore (United States) towns with ample crazy news. Randy had his serious side, but also a great sense of humor and he could make light of a bad situation like no other. We would laugh when we really should have been shaking our fists and cursing the planets.

“What we have is a failure to communicate,” was his favorite saying around the office. It seemed our bosses were always failing to communicate. Randy used the “failure to communicate” line in the face of challenge and adversity brought on indeed by a failure to communicate. After so many failures by the head office, what else was there to do but make light of the repeated missteps.

As I’ve stated here before, hours and hours spent traveling on a bus leads to hours upon hours thinking about the mundane, but sometimes about life. What should I do? Where should I go? Should I return home to find another job in journalism? Should I settle down? Should I just plain settle? Am I doing the right thing? Should that guy really be wearing yellow? Questions, questions.

When I recently saw the above poster on the Internet as I sat on a bus at work picking up a weak wi-fi signal, Randy came rushing back into my brain. As if it were yesterday I could hear him saying his classic failure to communicate line. Made me smile. But then I paused to examine the content of the poster, oddly placed on some Malaysian website written entirely in Malay except for the words on the poster: “Your Failures Do Not Define You.”

I’m not sure Randy would have run with this particular mantra. He was too much of a wisecrack to go around reciting such hefty prose. But then the whole notion of failures in life hurled my cluttered brain toward a conversation-turned-debate I had earlier in the week with a friend.

We were chatting via Skype. When we began to discuss turning points in our lives, I didn’t think it would be such a big deal when I told her “I love my life.” Her expression quickly changed and she responded that it was alright to love my life, but to voice that sentiment was not okay. She argued that it amounted to crass bragging and was insensitive to others whose lives aren’t going so well. Ohhh-kaaay!

I don’t claim to be Mr. Sensitivity, but I’m far from insensitive when it comes to the downtrodden. Been there myself, after all. I know a thing or two about being down and out. But how is expressing one’s happiness wrong?

After a volley of exchanges on the subject we agreed to disagree and moved on. (Hmmm…maybe I should have said I hate my life and gone for the sympathy).

In life we are pleased when we are doing what makes us happy. One of the things that makes me extremely happy is travel. My love of travel came at a very young age. I was always drawn to maps and could study them for hours. Geography was my favorite subject. It still is.

So now that I am fulfilling one of my life’s dreams – to travel around the world – I can truly say I love my life. Not that I didn’t love it before. I’ve been blessed with experiences few can claim: Visits to all but one of the U.S. states – Alaska get ready for the celebration of my arrival – travel to all but two continents – Australia and MAYBE Antarctica here I come. Meeting some incredible people worldwide, with more ahead.

Now I realize that there are countless others who would love to do what I’m doing, at least so they tell me, but because of circumstance and happenstance they can’t – or won’t.

Randy’s life was short. Jon Chamber’s life was short. Gayle Westry’s life was much too short. The list of peers who have died young is too long. Their brief time on Earth serve as a reminder that life is too short and there’s much to be seen and to be done. Follow your heart. If you like to cook, cook. If you like to climb, climb. Fulfill your dreams! A don’t fail at communicating to yourself and to others what makes you angry, sad, but above all, happy. And recognize that indeed your failures do not define you. Dust yourself off and next time around do for you that which makes you stand up and say I LOVE MY LIFE!  There is no greater feeling.

For me, it’s the love of travel. Or a simple matter of remembering an old friend.


Categories: posts, Rants and Raves | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Something To Think About

  1. Heidi (Garbaccio) Hanley

    So glad I cane across this just when I needed it. I have been searching Randy’s name online in hopes of reconnecting – hadn’t seen him since 1995. Had no idea I never would again. Very sad. I, too, have been “all over the map” and have recently been re-examining some of the choices I made at various crossroads that led me to the life I have now. Which I have concluded that I love. Hope you are well!

  2. Kevin Larison

    I’m sure this was the same Randal the Vandal Brameier that I went to Ball State with in the late 70’s. He and I worked together on the Daily News. I called him my Little Buddy. It’s funny that I thought of him today and just on a whim googled him. Makes me sad I didn’t check on him years ago.

    • Kevin, I believe he’s the one! Are you just now learning of his death or did you know prior to reading my post?

      • Kevin Larison

        Afraid I just learned of his death from your post. That’s why it was so weird that I googled him the other day. Randy was a funny guy. Neither one of us were “drinkers,” but we occasionally shared a beer or two and would get silly. I’ll miss him.

  3. Laura Barone

    I was Randy’s editor at the small newspaper in Frankfort, Ind., in the early ’80s, I think. I am sorry to learn he died so young. He was a gutsy young reporter just learning his craft then. Thanks for remembering him. I was glad to see he continued in journalism in New Jersey.

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