Life Lessons Updated:
*Are you happy at the moment?
Yes. For the first time in a long time, I can say I’m happy. That’s a BIG deal for me. We had a year of upheaval after we lost my wife in 2011. 2013 had a lot of other losses, with relatives and Andrea’s parents passing, but I can say with certainty we weathered a lot of it and also had a lot of really good things happen. No life is perfect, but it’s better than we ever thought right now.
*If you could go back and say anything to your 16-year-old self now – what would it be?
Be more confident in yourself. I’m far more comfortable in my own skin now and I am proud of what I’ve achieved. You will see amazing things, marry a beautiful woman, and have amazing children. If I knew then what my life would be like I’d have had nothing to worry about!
*What’s the most important thing you’ve learned this year?
Oh . . . take some chances! The most amazing things can happen if you just take the chance! People who weren’t major parts of my life are now crucial to how I go through my day. I’ve seen and done things I would have hemmed and hawed about before. None of these things would have happened if I’d continued the closed and quiet existence we’d lived three years ago.
*What do you most want to achieve in the next 12 months?
SO much! Is that an answer? I suffered writer’s block in the first year – which as a musician is just maddening. I now have almost enough material for a full album which I hope to record next year, at the latest. I also am working on a documentary I hope to get funding for in the next year, and of course writing for GEM.
*What’s your secret to happiness?
My family is the best answer, but to be honest . . . It’s the adventure we live. Our lives may not look that adventurous to the rest of the world – we haven’t gone skydiving over the Andes or anything – but we see, do and try things we didn’t before. That sends the message to chase your dreams, too.
*What one ritual or practice keeps you grounded?
Music. There is rhythm and harmony all around us and I teach my kids that. Abbi sings and is going into drama; Noah and Hannah are learning guitar; and Sam – my youngest – has near perfect pitch. I love that they all pick music for dinner time and we listen to music more than anything else. It’s great that my kids recognize Dave Brubeck and Miles Davis along with Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. I play, write, and record music and have even involved the kids in that! (See this year’s family video posted on GEM!)
*What’s your biggest regret?
Just ONE?! I wish I’d kissed my wife one last time. It’s hard, you don’t know how much you actually miss kissing someone you love until you realize you can’t ever do it again.
*What’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your kid(s)?
We’re stronger together than when we’re apart. It’s not proximity, it’s emotion. When the kids and I are banded together there’s really nothing that can stop us. This last three years has proven that.
*What bad habit would you most like to change about yourself?
Procrastination. Still haven’t gotten around to fixing that.
*Aside from motherhood/fatherhood and marriage what are you most proud of in your life?
I am proud of surviving this last three years. We faced a lot of really hard times, emotionally, losing my wife. That was terrible. What we embraced was the opportunities we’ve seen since then. It’s not the things we never got to do, it’s sincerely everything we get to do. I sent my kids on a field trip . . . I saw Macbeth in NY with my daughter . . . we fed parrots at a bird sanctuary . . . we made three music videos and continue to improve on the years before. My kids see the adventure life presents now and they want to be part of it, not hide from it.
*When were you happiest?
I’ve said before that it was when I kissed my wife the first time . . . a beautiful, John Hughes kind of moment. I was in love and young. But I’d argue I’m not at my happiest yet. I’m only halfway through my life and I see a lot in front of me still . . . and a lot of love, too.
*What ten words best describe you?
Dad, Musician, creative, loving, improvisational, funny (I hope), silly, joyful, thoughtful, and something I haven’t felt in a long while: blessed.
Dave Manoucheri is a journalist, writer and musician based in Sacramento of California. A father of four: two daughters and twin sons, his blog, Our Story Begins is a chronicle of their lives after the loss of his wife in March of 2011. Follow him on Twitter at @InvProducerMan. Check out Dave’s original Life Lessons post from December/2011 to see how things have changed.