Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I'm presently reading a novel entitled "High Plains Tango" by Robert James Waller. The main character is a man named Carlisle. Although he's the holder of a degree from Stanford, Carlisle is a carpenter. No he's much more than that, he's a craftsman. Like most craftsman, he learned his art from an aging craftsman who took great pride in his work. Unfortunately for Carlisle, the world today doesn't want craftsmanship. It wants big and flashy and wants it built yesterday. The people he works for don't want quality, they want quanity and their arguement is that nobody looks that closely anyway. Carlisle can't handle this and takes off treking accross America hoping to find a place where life is slower and more meaningful. A place where pride in one's self is still important.
I have a carpenter friend who allows me to work with him. Like Carlisle, he doesn't fit well into todays world. He refuses to use nailguns and doesn't allow one to take shortcuts. (Even though the project belongs to me and I should get to call the shots.) He simply states that if that's what I want, get another carpenter. There's not bent nails in the 2-story garage we built and there's not shortcuts hidden behind vinyl siding. It's all done right, because Bob insists that it must be that way.
There doesn't appear to be a lot of that around in today's world. This pride in oneself. This doing it right because that's the way it should be done. Most people approach a job with the attitude of let's just get it done. I'm glad I know some people like Bob who still have this pride.
I'll tell you where else I've found this pride in oneself recently. It's here at SP. This thing that I've felt is so rare in today's world is really pretty common here.
I have met many here who are proud of their accomplishments and the hard work they put into attaining these accomplishments. They include a young woman who has started a team that is now over 1400 people strong! Not only did she lose a lot of weight she went from being in poor physical health to running marathons and through her leadership she has led many others to get in control of their life through running.
I have met a young man who also was in poor physicalcondition and is now riding bike more than a 1000 miles a year and has gained a tremendous amount of pride in himself as well as hooking up to a young woman who shares his love of activity.
I have met many people like a Canadian friend that I've made who's not only proud of her physical accomplishments but has become a leader in her own right encouraging others through her postive feedback to their blogs and thread entries.
I have watched a person who was already dear to me gain confidence and self worth has grown tremedously since I have known her and have watched her use this self confidence in mothering her two lovely children providing them with opportunities that most kids just don't get.
These are just a few examples of pride that I've come up with here at Sparks.
In craftsmanship and life in general, if you want to be proud of the final product, you've got to be willing to put the work into it. Whatever you do, do it with pride.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
The story goes that although the father had taken his son fishing many times, his son had come to the conclusion that there were very few fish, since they seldom caught more than 1 or 2. Then after going out with an older friend of the father in a shrimp boat, he was amazed with the numbers and the diversity of fishes within the net. They were there all the time if one knew how to find them and then also knew how to to catch them.
It strikes me that this is exactly the way people are in life, but instead of trying to find fish, they're trying to find happiness and adventure. For many, after spending years of their life drifting aimlessly around, they simply haven't found much joy and decide that it's just the way life isand that happiness exists in very limited quanities.
However, like the unsuccessful fisherman in the story, they just didn't know how to find what they were looking for. They looked in the wrong places and used methods that didn't work at that particular time.
There is a stream that runs by my house. My neighbor fishes it occassionally and never has more than very limited success. He's always convinced that the conditions wern't right or that there just aren't many fish to be had anymore.
I fish that same stream and catch more fish than most people believe possible. I think he believes that I'm just lucky or just making up stories. It's hard for him to understand that I have lived my entire life as an out doorsman and that my success lies more in knowing where to look for the fish and then what methods to use at that particular time. I've offered to take him along with me, but it just doesn't seem to happen.
The exact same thing is true of life in general. Most of the people I come in contact with seem to have limited success in finding excitment in their life. Every day they live pretty much the same as the day before hoping that today something really exciting will come along and it seldom does. They're not actively pursuing what they want. They just hope it will come along.
Like my stream full of fish, life is full of adventures and excitement. It just takes learning how to know where to look for it and then learning what methods work on actually making the catch.
If you're like the fisherman in my story who seldom makes a catch but continues to do what doesn't work, maybe its time to try something new - a different bait, a different presentation, or maybe a different location. A fisherman can fish a spot for an entire day but if its a location that holds no fish, he'll simply waste his day. A person that wishes for a more exciting life but spends all his time in one spot (in front of a TV set, for example), the excitement will most probably never come his way.
Life is good! But you got to get out there and make it happen!
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Sometimes inspiration comes from some of the strangest sources. This time the source was the movie "Rocky Balboa".
Now for those of you who don't know me (which is most of you), you may not realize that one of the biggest issues in my life is getting old and not being able to continue to do the things that I've enjoyed my entire life. As a result, I'm almost fanatical in my efforts to pursue the same adventures that I pursued when I was in my 40's, 30's or even 20's. Unfortunately, reality sometimes steps in and let me know that things are not always the same. My reflexs on the volleyball court are just not what they used to be. Bruises and sprains gotten from wiping out my mountain bike or taking a roll on the slalom ski take a lot longer to heal. Competing with 20 year olds is starting to look stupid although I'' still challenge those in their 40's. Alas, I'm not turning many heads on the beach except for those poking fun at my hairy back.
What I learned from the movie is that that's okay. Like Rocky I can still pursue the things I love, I just need to approach them a little differently. Reflexs on the court slower? Work on position and play smarter if somewhat slower. Scare them with the serve. On the mountain bike work on perserverance rather than on the downhill speed. The slalom ski still looks impressive to the average person when skiing only half as hard as I once did and it's a lot safer and still fun. Pick the 20 year old as your team mate and let the competition worry about him. I still turn my wife's head and that's a major accomplishment.
Rocky no longer had the speed so he worked on power and his advice that he passed on to his son was "It's not how hard you can hit, but how hard you can be hit and still get back up." I love it.
No matter what getting older does to me, I plan on taking the hit and getting right back up and still continue competing. I may have to change some approaches, but I don't have to give up living.
Life is good!
Friday, June 22, 2007
A long time ago, (although it seems like yesterday), there was a commercial that simply went "Reach out and touch someone". I think it was AT&T trying to get more people to subscribe to their long distance telephone service. The concept was that getting in contact with someone would make a difference and probably make their day. I always agreed with that logic and now that most of us now have unlimited long distance with our wireless service as well as email to anywhere in the world, it's easier than ever to help make someones day. Yet most people still don't seem to take advantage of it nearly as often as they should. Perhaps its the busy life style that we lead. Or maybe, too many simply focus on their own needs and forget about others. Then again, maybe not many people understand what an influence they have on other people.
Regardless of what the reason is, it's a shame that more people don't "reach out" to others.
One of the things I really like about being here among my friends at SP is that here "reaching out and touching some0ne" is a regular event. It's a whole different world where people still care about others and aren't afraid to show it. Wouldn't it be great if the rest of the world would model themselves after SparkPeople? There would probably be a whole lot less depression and certainly a lot less loneliness around.
For you, my friends reading this blog, I encourage you to "reach out and touch somebody" today, and tomorrow and ...well you get the picture. You'll help make their days a lot nicer. I know you have mine.
Life is good!
Friday, June 15, 2007
Fear has always been a big motivator in my life. Not that I was a fearful person. Just the opposite. I've always sought out things that got my endrenoline pumping! But fear keeps me in line.
When I was a teen, it was fear of what my parents would think of me if I got caught that would prevent me from following the crowd. When I around 40, I had a health scare that motivated me real fast to give up cigarettes (something I probably could not have done without fear as a motivator!) Now it's the fear of getting old and not being able to do the things that I love to do that has me on my present physical fitness kick!
We've talked about it on Outdoor People quite a bit - how we all have loved ones that old age is knocking them down and destroying the quality of their living. Watching my father go from an active ambitious man to a man who is able to barely get up the stairs on his own is the most difficult part of my life right now. The thought that it could happen to me indeed makes me fearful, but not a fear that prevents me from moving on. Just the opposite.
This fear motivates me to be physically fit and to do all the things that I need to do to stay physically fit. I want to be able to do the things that I love for many years to come. I want to hike mountain, bike trails, waterski aggressively, run dirt roads and live adventures for a long time to come. To do so, I am willing to watch what I eat and to avoid some of the things that I know will take their toll on my body.
I quess it's not getting old that I'm afraid of, it's the not being able to continue my active lifestyle. My goal is to do what I have to do to live like I do for at least another 30 years.
Bring of the birthdays! I won't let them see how much I'm afraid of them!
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