Tuesday, December 13, 2011
A friend is struggling right now. Their world isnít ending but one of my grandmaís always said ďNo problem is a small problem if itís your problem.Ē They wrote me a long letter and half way through I was reminded of something I havenít read in ages, the Desiderata. Truth be known, I should read it every morning. Its chock full of precise wisdom and advice and if I choose to make it my goal, Iíll be the happiest person alive.
Because I love you I thought Iíd share it with you
ďGo placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happyĒ
Thursday, December 08, 2011
When you own the business you work Christmas Eve, especially when you are a ďmom and pop.Ē Itís not really fair to your twenty somethingís. Even though the sign screams ďNo VacancyĒ there is always the random stranger who came home from college at the last moment to surprise the family on Christmas morning or the traveler who ran out of steam half way through their journey. Itís hard to say no. But where would you put them, on the roof? Besides, this business is yours. Maybe it only has ten rooms and there isnít a buffet breakfast served in the morning, but every inch of it is yours. You arenít large enough to give a Christmas bonus and you barely have enough money to pay for your own benefits so you let them have Christmas Eve and Christmas day off with pay. You do it, your dad did it and his dad before him did it. Itís just the way things are. Itís your obligation.
So you sit on the same stool as those who came before you and you work through a Sudoku book. At midnight youíll turn off the lights, lock the door and ease yourself on to the cot in your office. All your guests are tucked in; everyone has soap and towels for the morning. ďMerry Christmas to all and to all a good nightÖĒ
The headlights blind you for a second as they glance off the wet window pane. A kid gets out of the car. You are half way to the front door mouthing ďno room available.Ē His shoulders slump a bit, he stomps the rain off of him and asks if you have a cup of water. Itís for his wife. They are headed home to see his mom and she canít go much further without a break. Sheís tired and aches all over. She wanted to stretch her legs a bit and maybe get something to drink. By the way, you donít happen to have a room do you. Heíll pay double if you could see your way clear.
This is the part you hate. As you fill a Styrofoam cup with water you politely but firmly tell him no, you sure donít. As you ease him towards the door you watch his wife stretch her back and then lean against the car. You mutter a profanity under your breath and tell him to bring her inside for a bit. Sheís pale, tired and you think of your wife and two daughters andÖÖÖÖ The cot in the back is not much. It sags in the middle and could use more than a heavy dose of Febreeze. There is a look of relief in her eyes as she lies down. Her husband sits next to her and you can hear them talking through the curtain.
The baby is born around 2:30 that morning. Mrs. Trotter in room 7 calls the front desk to complain about the racket and the flashing lights when the EMTís arrive. A few other curious guests poke their heads through the door and one cracks wise; ďThis is just like the first Christmas.Ē You sigh and put on a pot of coffee. Itís going to be a long day.
Unsung heroes are unsung for a reason. They are never on page one, they never receive an achievement award, they are largely forgotten. Amidst the trophies and mounds of recognition they become the people who make our successes possible.
We rarely know they are there and they never understand what the big deal is anyway.
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
I used to wonder how they did it. Those guys in the tailored suites and ladies in little black dresses standing at the buffet table laughing, talking and grazing on food that isnít even in the remote vicinity of being healthy. I used to think it was in their genes. They were predisposed to being thin and there was a huge hormone floating inside their bodies that gobbled up anything that appeared to be fattening. They were lucky I was not. They were favored, I was not.
So I studied them. I studied them at length and I came to realize that they possessed one absolute quality I did not. They had complete confidence in their ability to control their lives and their destiny. They knew who they were, and what they were capable of doing. They could stand relaxed and comfortable at the buffet table, scarf down a few fattening treats, and walk away to find interests more intriguing and exciting. I donít believe they are perfect. I simply believe thy tried and failed, tried again and never quit. The experience steeled them.
The external manifestation of health, wealth, success, go ahead and pick one thatís appropriate, is simply the total sum of you and I value ourselves, our lives and our place in this world. I sometimes think the scale doesnít move because deep down inside I donít want it to move. Fat and happy as they say, safe, not having to take risks or chances. Scary stuff.
Itís easier to be jealous, envious and spiteful of the folks who slide into size zero clothing without effort, itís much more difficult to emulate them. Itís hard to admit that even when we proclaim equality with all the world deep inside we donít really believe it. We just hope it happens.
Suppose we stopped dieting? Oh I know the mantra here is that we are not on a diet. Suppose we just walled off all our nasty, silly eating habits and stopped keeping track of them? Instead of tracking calories and water intake we kept track of most amazing things we did each day and that we shot for a high number rather than a low number? Suppose we quit competing with everyone to see how fast or far we could run, swim or cycle and instead focused on tracking activity as it concerned giving or helping others? We might not have time to eat and when we did weíd gravitate towards food that gave us the energy to be that evolving person we wanted to be. Not a lot of rules, just a concentration on locating our true self. Every night before we went to sleep weíd close our eyes and weigh our self worth and find its getting heavier!!!
Impossible you say. Really? Ask the size zero at the buffet table.
Saturday, December 03, 2011
Itís early on a Saturday morning. Itís cold and in many ways Iíd rather be on the couch with a cup of green tea watching CNN. Iím not. I am dressed, showered and ready to go. You see this morning along with the local YMCA, Joan and I, as Owensboro Noon Optimists are hosting a Breakfast with Santa, complete with picture taking, face painting and sanitary wipes so Santaís new suit doesnít need cleaning later next week.
Some of you are golfing today, some shopping, some hiking or running. We are all doing what we need to do to stay active and healthy. My kids are grown, my granddaughter is two hundred miles away and I donít ďhaveĒ to do this. We want to. For many of the kids, this will be Christmas. There wonít be many presents under the tree for them. We figured, along with two moderately reluctant daughters, that we could give up a Saturday morning to make life happier for someone else. There isnít a price tag on a wide eyed smile and I also have decided there is no tangible present in this world that has the same value these raucous, happy kids have in my heart.
Iím not doing this to feel better about myself and the world around me. I am doing it because when the day is done, even if itís infinitesimal, Iíll be a much better person because I gave something I have to give and thatís my time.
So many of you do the same.
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