In college I had a mentor with whom I constantly disagreed. We had totally disparate world views, politics, beliefs. But we respectfully engaged in discussion. And we had a mutual awe for one another’s dedication.
One day my mentor lost one of his parents. He showed up for class the same day and the next day. He made funeral preparations. And he continued to work. His life never ground to a halt.
I feared asking him about this for a long time. Finally, after months, I couldn’t resist any longer. We had wrapped up a private meeting; and as he got up to leave, I said, “sir, there’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you for a while.”
He gestured for me to go ahead. I said, “you’ve talked so lovingly about your parents; they were clearly the world to you - why didn’t you take time off when you lost them?”
He choked up a bit, which I’d never seen. The man is steel. I’ll never forget. He said, “you’ve really got me behind the 8 ball.”
I said that of course it’s none of my business and he needn’t answer. He collected himself and proceeded anyway:
“We can be sad and get nothing done. Or we can be sad and get everything done. The mistake people make is thinking they’ll be able to get around to something one day. But there’s no guarantee any of us will get to live through the very day we’re in right now.”