FAIRBANKS — Gratitude and an apology to James Watson.
The gratitude is for the words of wisdom in a five-page letter submitted by the 72-year-old former high school football assistant coach for the the Eielson Ravens and North Pole Patriots.
The apology is for taking so long to share some of his words after he gave me a copy of the letter before a North Pole game late in the season.
The words are from his farewell letter he presented to the North Pole football team after he announced he was retiring following this past season because of his wife’s battle with cancer.
Today, Thanksgiving, is perfect for sharing this wisdom of a man who worked on the gridiron sidelines for 37 years. It’s fitting not just because this day deals with dinners, family gatherings and expressions of gratitude, but there’s also three National Football League games and one college football game taking place.
Here are some excerpts of Watson’s wisdom.
• To be successful, one must be willing to learn and apply new concepts and not be afraid of change.
• Always be honest with people. One lie can down you.
• Each of us is born with a limited amount of time for life. Every moment we live — whether we’re working, playing, complaining or being thankful — is time that we’ve spent. Nothing is more valuable than the time we have left.
• The question for each of us is not what we would do with more things, but what will we do with the things we have now?
• Over the years, I have learned that a child needs someone who believes in him or her, no matter what he or she does.
• Start treating yourself as if you are the most important asset you’ll ever have. After all, aren’t you?
• If you have something to do that is worth doing, don’t talk about it but do it.
• The only way to get positive feelings about yourself is to take positive actions. Faith comes only through the process of making decisions to change before we can be sure it’s the right move.
You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.
• Over the years, I have learned that you never will be the person you can be if pressure, tension and discipline are taken out of your life.
• People always send flowers when someone dies. Give me my flowers now so we can appreciate the beauty together.
• Our prayers are answered not when we are given what we ask but when we are challenged to be what we can be.
• There are two words you need to ask yourself repeatedly: What else? What else can I do to help improve myself?
• Yesterday, I made out a “TICDAA” list. It means things I cannot do anything about.
Once you learn to factor out what you cannot change, you will find more time for the things you have control over.
• Coming from a very large family, you learn at the beginning where there was a will, there was a way.
If there is a chance in a million that you could do anything to keep what you had, do it.
Pry the door open or if need be, wedge your foot into it to keep it open.
Even if you are tired, you cannot stop.
• Faith starts where reason ends. Remember, any concerns too small to be turned into a prayer are too small to be made into a burden.
• Every day may not be good, but there’s something good in every day.
You opened your eyes to a new day this morning; therefore you are not six feet under and hopefully, not behind bars.
• While in college, I realized that everyone in this world is important. We should always treat others with courtesy, dignity and respect.
• When we face the worst that can happen in any situation, we grow. When circumstances are at their worst, we can find our best.
• The average human heart beats 100,000 times a day. Make those beats count.