The Fundamentals of Caring

Dr. and Mrs. Ira Shafran

Over the course of our lives, we cross paths with various people from all walks of life. To quote Mother Teresa, “Some people come into your life as blessings, some come into your life as lessons.” As powerful a statement as that is, it lends me to believe that those two embodiments can rarely be condensed in the same person; Mother Teresa may or may not have meant those terms to be separate, yet in her divine wisdom she may have left her statement as is, to make the seeker think for themselves.

When you meet a unique, with the confident ability to deliver both blessings and lessons, basically the human experience, it makes you step back to observe. You consider that you may have met similar people in your journey, yet were not ready mentally to delight in their remarkable gifts and knowledge. I readily think of my parents in these regards.

I recently had the pleasure of spending time with one such person, Dr. Ira Shafran; during those moments of contemplating which cigar to try, I gleaned a new appreciation towards my own life purpose. Under the influence of this idiosyncratic fellow, I formed an updated mindset, one I wish I had adopted years ago, yet chose not to: living in the moment.

Too oft, our hours are jam packed from dawn to dusk, always planning and re-routing in order to create what we deem the best life possible. Internally, most struggle with the brevity of life, which in turn ignites us towards pursuit, forever striving for accomplishment; each of us harbors our own definition of accomplishment. In these moments of harried living, life becomes un-malleable as we say no to the precious mindset of enjoying the now and yes to what we think is securing our future. I know, I’ve lived this way for years and thinking back, regretfully.

I recall moments that I wish would last forever and sadly recognize, how when I was in the moment physically, mentally I was already 12-24 hours ahead, thinking about this or planning that. God grants us great expectations yet He also grants us time to heal, mellow, cultivate and step off the cataclysmic trains we create in our quests to succeed.

Success is measured individually and if we choose to learn from others, we are ahead of the game. In my observation of my eccentric friend it was obvious how he embraces life; on a given day you will find him amidst crowds walking his beloved pooch, enthralled with those he meets. Ira keeps in touch with old friends while simultaneously making new ones; basically he never meets a stranger. He checks in with people and makes introductions; it’s as if he realizes his gestures may be the only heartfelt one they receive all day. A lesson in his fundamentals of caring.

In my own guardedness and skepticism, I shudder to realize how many times I’ve been offered the hand of friendship or better yet, saw a path towards getting to know someone yet chose to ignore those prompts. I realize how others have pursued a friendship with me, yet I was too wrapped up in my own voyage that I ignored their beckons, eventually they gave up; I don’t blame them.

Upon having a cigar in the company of my infectiously vibrant friend, I met new acquaintances, shared laughs and swapped stories with strangers; all unchartered waters for me, all from his leading by example.

I observed how each soul contains individual abilities and how crucial it is to be ourselves, while pushing our own boundaries past set markers, to expand; if we continually live within our comfortable bubbles, we’ll miss out on living life. You can challenge your limits or live contentedly as is, that’s your choice in life.

I considered the friendships Ira has, some old, others more recent; the lesson there was that you never stop neither living nor cultivating relationships. I saw someone with the capability to engage strangers, reminding me of my own exceptional dad.

I witnessed a classic go – getter – not afraid to turn heads, ask questions and certainly not take things as they seem; with a history of blazing his own trails and pushing past the status quo, his genuine actions completely fit his personality. My friend’s bride Anita is no exception; innate and generous, beauty meets beauty both internally and externally with her – a natural, much like my own lovely mom.

For me, to add an expansion into my sparse canopy of true friends is monumental – like forging an alliance with a trusted commandeer; that is one of Ira’s blessings to me. His zest for life makes each waking hour count and proves that, despite adversity, the pursuit of happiness is still worthwhile.

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