Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Butterfly Kisses

My daughter, Jentry, could not have been more than 8 or 9 years old the first time she heard Bob Carlisle sing "Butterfly Kisses." And after hearing it that very first time, she said, "Daddy, on my wedding day, you and I are going to dance to that song!"

Last night, at her wedding reception, she kept her word, and when the Father of the Bride and the Bride were called to the dance floor, "Butterfly Kisses" was the song of choice. Fortunately, for me, we laughed and talked during most of the song and I didn't have to listen to the lyrics.

I am fairly certain that it's too soon to be addressing the events of this last week. There will, no doubt, be more in the weeks to come. But we made our last of three trips to the airport a few hours ago and it is eerily quiet around here. Let me assure you, that has NOT been the case for the last week as the house became "millennial central", beginning around Midnight last Wednesday night/Thursday morning. It was loud. It was chaotic. It was borderline insanity a time or two. But it was absolutely awesome! And I would not have changed a thing!

Everything culminated last night at The Orchard in Azle, Texas. Jentry and Chad had chosen the venue a long time ago. Jentry SO wanted an outside wedding. And why not? The global warning alarmists had convinced everyone that the Earth was on a "slow bake." It was only logical to assume that we would have a mid December day in the high 60's to low 70's. That was not the case. North America is evidently experiencing record breaking lows. And we've had lows in the "teens" all week. We were forced to move inside. So, please let me express my gratitude to you Climate Changers!

With the exception of one glitch, everything seemed to come off perfectly. It was a magical night. And I could not be more happy........or RELIEVED!

I was blown away by the wedding party. Six bridesmaids and six groomsmen joined Jentry and Chad and I will forever have nothing but fond memories of each and everyone of these kids. They each exhibited such a penchant for service and there was no request that they did not take on and fulfill.

My Angel Baby was absolutely gorgeous! The smile never left her face! I cannot even begin to explain how, to my very core, I wanted all her expectations to be met. After all, she had told me many years ago what this night would look like.

I did not tag Chad in the post. But yesterday morning, I linked the song, "I Loved Her First" to my Facebook timeline. There was no need to tag him. Chad's a sharp dude. He knew exactly who that song was meant for!

And just a few hours later, I put her hand in his and gave her away.

And then, just a short time later, my Angel Baby and I danced.

"I know I've got to let her go, 
but I'll always remember
Every hug in the morning and 
Butterfly Kisses at night."

Saturday, December 10, 2016

A Quiet Man's Life Speaks Volumes

I witnessed a scene this morning that touched me deeply. From across the room, I watched three men stand with their Mother and look into the casket of their Dad, and her Husband, as they said their final farewells. The man was Billy Smith, my wife's Uncle. He passed away this week and his funeral was this morning in Paris, TX.

It was a wonderful service and I was humbled to assemble with family and friends and celebrate this man's life.

Billy was one of the good guys. A kinder or gentler man, I'm not sure I've ever known. But I really didn't know him like his family and close friends did. You see, Billy was a quiet man. He was always sitting off to the side. He didn't seek to be the center of attention, nor apparently did he need it. I can only imagine what he thought of me when Teresa started bringing me around. And even though he might have been thinking, "Who is this loud-mouth blowhard?",  he never found it necessary to say it out loud.

I remember being at his house several years ago, when almost without provocation, he said, "Now, Kevin, there is some store-bought cake in the kitchen." I found it interesting that he wanted me to know that it was "store-bought" and not from the skilled cooking hands of his dear wife, Carol.

On another occasion, I remember Billy giving a plate of chicken bones to their dog. As I understood it, that's the biggest no-no one can do and I'm certain that I'm the one who mentioned it. But Billy said, "Aw, I've fed chicken bones to dogs my whole life and I've never seen it hurt one of em." I was cracking up.  I've told that story dozens of times.

Billy owned an Appliance Repair business for over four decades. Evidently, he had been in every home in Paris, TX. Wherever you went in Paris, everybody knew Billy. We were together at the world famous Fish Fry in Paris one Saturday night and it was like ELVIS WAS IN THE BUILDING! Every person in that restaurant knew Billy and they ALL spoke to him. Even this morning, prior to the funeral, Teresa and I were having breakfast in town. I struck up a conversation with a group of runners who had come in. I mentioned that we were in town for a funeral. The locals asked who died? I said "My wife's Uncle, Billy Smith." Immediately, they gave their condolences, spoke highly of Billy, and said that he had fixed their refrigerator.

The Funeral Home was packed this morning. And I'm certain that the attendees were not all family. That's what happens when a good man dies. People show up and pay their respect.

I've  never heard one bad word about Billy Smith. And to my knowledge, he never uttered one bad word about anyone else.

He leaves a wonderful legacy.  An example that I sure wish I could learn to follow. Elvis has left the building. But the memories of this quiet, strong, yet gentle Man will never leave any of us who were fortunate enough to have known him.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

It's Upside Down, Maslow!

I'm not certain at what age we are first exposed to the fine work of Abraham Maslow. Remember him? The dude with the triangle? The whole Hierarchy of Needs? It seemed to come fairly early, though. Maybe 6th Grade. I didn't completely understand it. But I was still down at the bottom of the triangle and remain there till this current day.

I've been thinking about ol' Abe recently. The same cat that blew my head off with the whole Problems and Consequences idea threw another little jewel out there that pretty much sums up the dilemma, as I see it, of almost everyone on the Planet.

Almost as an aside, and with basically no explanation, he simply said, "There's a very fine razor's edge between self-actualization and self-absorption." This wasn't news to me like his other point that resulted in my last post. I certainly knew this. I have tremendous experience with self-absorption. But, it was an interesting way to state it.

I hearkened back to my youth and "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs" and started playing with the idea that in this current age, we have flipped the triangle upside down and have made Self-Actualization the preeminent human need. It is paramount above all others!

From what I see on social media, a lot of this self-actualization involves our genitals. (My daughter just closed this post as she rolls her eyes and thinks, "My curmudgeon Dad is about to go on another rant about our obsession with our toilet places) But, the evidence is clearly there. And it is sad to see, yet so fascinating!

Not long ago, ABC News reported that we are now up to FIFTY-EIGHT gender identities. I've not confirmed this, but rumor has it that Facebook is now recognizing 72 gender identities. Talk about pressure! What a horrible burden to place on our young people! Bless their hearts! We just didn't have it this bad back in the day. But today, these kids are being forced to sift through a list of 58 possible gender identities and it's taking them years to do it! There is no time for food, water, safety, security. The bottom tiers of the hierarchy will just have to wait. This is a laborious, monumental task! And after all choosing an identity, they have to determine the pronoun they wish to be referred to, lest they be offended. This can be a lifetime job, leaving little time for little else. I spoke to a Millennial recently who stated that the stuff going on, even on his college campus, is some of the stupidest stuff he's ever seen. But you can bet your last red cent that he's never going to voice that opinion. Those people who preach love, tolerance, and non-judgment would label him as every kind of "Phobe" one can think of and banish him for life.

The genitals, however, are not the only defining point of self-actualization. There are those who have never spent one second of their lives pondering what gender they are who stand tippy toe on that razor's edge between self-actualization and self-absorption. I know I certainly do.

In 2010, I became insufferable to everyone around me as I went from couch potato to Marathon finisher in 11 months. My story grew tiresome to everyone around me. But I could not have cared any less what you thought. I knew for years that the Marathon was the ultimate example of what it looks like in life to set a goal and to achieve it. Something to take pride in! Something to give me value and self-worth. It only took a couple of years for me to see the folly of that and just how wrong I had been. So, I did the only natural thing and entered my first Triathlon. Go figure!

I have a good friend that spends most of his time in honest self-appraisal. One to two hours a day, journaling, appraising, taking inventory, praying, meditating  in order to arrive at the top of the triangle--- self-actualization. He calls me occasionally wanting to go over all these findings. It is a beating to listen to. But I haven't shot him down yet. It's a lesson he needs to learn on his own. That lesson is that his quest for self-actualization is nothing more or less than self-obsession.

I think old Abraham would be spinning in his grave if he knew where we have taken self-actualization. We've taken it to the "razor's edge." We have turned it into self-absorption. Self-obsession! And that razor is starting to cut deep. Very deep.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

What's the Problem?

It's been a while. Actually, it's been quite some time. Words just will not come for the Post that I really want to write. It's swimming around in my head somewhere. But I just cannot seem to spit it out. Maybe it will come. Maybe not. No doubt fear is providing the writer's block.

But, I heard a guy speak tonight. And I'm fairly certain that no sleep will come until I get this thought out of my head. It struck me hard. Kicked me right in the gut. Because he addressed one of my favorite topics. He was discussing problems. And boy oh boy, do I have problems!  I am on record in regard to my problems. I've even been known to rudely express in large groups, "I know you people think you got problems. But my shi....stuff is REAL!"

Anyway, here's what the dude had to say.......He described a conversation he was having with a trusted friend. He was listing all his problems. Joblessness, IRS debt, no transportation, a number of ex wives, kids that despised him. The list went on and on and on. Problems, problems, problems!

After he  had worn himself listing all his problems, his friend suggested, "Man, you don't have any problems. What you have are CONSEQUENCES!" The friend went on to encourage him to STOP trying to FIX the consequences and get real serious about FIXING the problem. And the problem was staring at him every morning as looked into the mirror to shave.

His talk went on for another half hour after that little nugget. But I heard very little of what he had left to say as my mind started racing applying this simple truth to all sorts of situations.... in my life, in your lives, and in the World in general!

My house's foundation certainly came to mind. Some of you are aware that we are just now on the back end of a major home renovation. It all started with the foundation. The situation was so bad that we had to move out of the house in order to install several piers inside the house. It may be one of the most traumatic experiences I've ever gone through. However, the foundation was not the problem. The foundation was a consequence of not maintaining the moisture levels around the perimeter of the house and letting the damage progress for several years after the first signs of an issue presented themselves. Consequently, for six weeks, we been fixing consequences. Not problems.

It's not too much of a stretch, to apply this same thinking to our country's abysmal situation. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are consequences. They are NOT the problem. The whole system is so broke in Washington and nobody seems to have any interest in fixing the problem. That leaves us trying to fix the consequences. And believe me, both these scumbags are consequences.

I'm not much of an Economist. But is the $20 Trillion debt the problem? Nay, nay, thrice times nay! The debt is a consequence of years and years and years of not addressing the problem.

Crime, poverty, dope......

I can go on and on. But I find it too depressing. Just dream up any problem you can. Then ask yourself. Is it really the problem? Or is it a consequence?

I see a real need to get down to causes and conditions. And it hurts like hell to actually do that. As a rule,  I refuse to address the problem. Therefore, I spend most of my time fixing consequences. I'm not convinced that you are any different.

It cost me a friendship a few weeks ago. A dear friend is so wrapped up in fixing consequences that she has NO idea what the problem is. In the middle of watching about 10 guys destroy my house, with my nerves running six inches out the ends of my fingers, and my brain too big for my head, she called. It was the same conversation we've had several dozen times. My tolerance and patience failed me. I was rude, caustic, and just plain mean. The loss of a friendship is NOT the problem. It is a consequence! Eventually, maybe one day, I will get down to the problem, to the actual causes and conditions of why I act that way.

My wife did not leave me today. But, hypothetically, let's just say that she packed all her stuff and hit the road. My problem would not be the potential loss of a marriage. The problem would be ME. And just what is it about me, that made her decide  to pack her things and hit the road after 27 years of marriage? I'll say it again. Causes and conditions.

I suggest to you that we spend way too much of our energy and time fixing consequences. And that's a shame. And it's sad. Sad for me. Sad for you. And sad for this broken world.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Just Dad, Me, and Ali

Muhammad Ali died the other day. There was no where to turn this weekend without hearing or reading a tribute. I terrorized my family all weekend with that noteworthy line from Coming to America, "His Momma called him Clay. I call him Clay."

Cassius Clay was arguably the most famous man of the Twentieth Century on the Planet! There is NO WAY I am going to delve into all the facets of this icon's life. It has ALL been said. From the "Conscientious Objector," to the religious conversion, to the multiple marriages, to the kids (born both in and out of wedlock), there is simply nothing new to say. In fact, I DON'T CARE!

The theme, however, that I keep seeing repeated comes from the folks my age, that were born in the 60's. More than a good number of you just keep posting, "Muhammad Ali reminds me of time spent with Dad." And oh what a time it was!

Boxing was still Boxing back then. It had not yet become as authentic as professional wrestling and been ruined by some of the sorriest people to ever waste oxygen. It was on Network TV. It didn't cost $100 on PPV.  It was broadcast via satellite all over the globe and it was the spectacle of spectacles!

There was no "school night" bedtime on the night of an Ali fight. My mom and sister would go to bed. But Dad and I would be glued to the television. We would mock Howard Cosell. But, in truth, was there anyone any better in the fight game? For some reason, the loss to Spinks stands out most in my mind. But watching an Ali fight with Dad are some of my greatest memories from childhood.

I met The Champ back in 1991. I shared an office with a dude whose wife worked for the property management company of the building we worked in. She called and said that Ali was in the lobby. I tore down there as fast as I could.

And there he was! Just him and a handler. Just the three of us. No crowds. No fans. No spectacle. I froze. I had no idea how to proceed.

His handler noticed me and said, "Son, you want an autograph?" I said "No, I'd just like to shake the Champ's hand." He then informed me that an autograph would be okay. He asked my name, turned to Ali and said, "It's Kevin, Ali." The Greatest just kind of grunted. He repeated, "He said Kevin, Ali."

Ali was holding a stack of pro Islamic tracts. The "To:" was already written, as was his name and the month and year. My stomach tied up in a knot as he wrote, with horribly shaking hands, "Kevin" and entered the day between the month and year on the date.

I then put my hand into the largest hand I have ever seen and shook The Champ's hand. I managed to stammer out, "It's an honor. Thank you." He threw a slow, shaking jab at my chin. And I walked away.

I found it difficult to get back to work. I felt ill. I told my office partner that I was almost sorry that I ran down there. I did not want to remember Muhammad Ali that way.

I only wanted remember the spectacle. I wanted to remember the interviews with that annoying Howard Cosell. I so wanted my lasting memory of the Greatest to be the nights of  those nights, when it was just

Dad, me, and Ali.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

In Defense of Millennials!

BP posted a video about Millennials on The Facebook the other day and it was hilarious! I did not share it with The Angel Baby because her mother implored me to not use that word so much this Summer. I honored that request for about forty-eight hours and then went on one of my rants, pointing out the same tired "talking points" about what a pathetic generation that has arisen!

I know! I know! They got trophies for going winless on their 5 year old soccer teams. Their sports leagues no longer keep scores in order to protect their self-esteem. They cannot handle criticism and think they deserve pay raises for their perfect attendance!

The list goes on and on and on. They are easy to pick on. They make good targets. It's almost as though they deserve it. I would like, however, to make a few points that are worthy of consideration before we flush this generation down the toilet:

1) THEY DO NOT CARE! Our criticism of them slides right down their backs. In spite of our scorn, they continue to trudge along the best way they know how. They are coming out of College with an average of $30,000 in loans. Is the cost of higher education their fault? They know that 99% of corporations won't even look at their resumes if they are non-degreed. In fact, one Hiring Manager shared with me that he can only consider candidates with a degree from a list of FIVE universities! Did the Millennials set this ridiculous standard? I think not. But this is the burden that has been placed on them and they are DOING IT ANYWAY!

2) THEY ARE MORE AUTHENTIC THAN WE EVER WERE! They are disgusted by our shallowness and yearn for something real! That's why they are pouring out of churches like rats off a sinking ship. Religion, as we taught it, is so plastic and fake. They don't see the point of the "going through the motions" like we do every Sunday morning and they have disengaged from the lack of genuine spirituality.

3) THEY REALLY NEED TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE! I can name a whole list of Millennials that are ALL about serving others. They go on Mission trips. They visit orphanages. They are obsessed with providing clean water to third world counties. They even go to Animal Shelters, just to pet the homeless animals, for crying out loud!

4) THEY ARE WAY LESS MATERIALISTIC THAN WE WERE! They could not give a popcorn fart about wearing Calvin Kleins or if their shirt has a horsey or an alligator on it! They shop at Thrift Stores and for the most part, go to class, worship, and work looking homeless, if they can get away with it.

Oh, for the most part, I still think they are a sorry generation. In spite of the above comments, they do present themselves as a tad "entitled" sometimes. I'm just not convinced that they are the sorriest generation.

After all: Just WHO gave them the trophies? WHO insisted that we no longer keep score? WHO drove their college tuitions sky high? WHO mandated that they be college educated and that it be at one of five Universities? WHO carried them to churches that look like Museums for Saints?

I may not know much. But I know the Millennials didn't!

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Hardest Lesson of All

A few years ago, Shoe and I had the opportunity to hear a guy give a talk that impacted us both greatly. As a matter of fact, we seldom have a conversation that the dude's name is not mentioned. That fact may not sound like much of a big deal. But Shoe and I speak on the phone, at least once a day, EVERY day!

The bad news for this guy is that I recently got hold of his email address. Remembering the tired cliche, "nothing ventured, nothing gained," I fired off an email to this old hippie from California, with little or no expectation of what I would get back. He did respond and we spent the better part of a week corresponding via email and now it's become a bucket list item to one day have a cup of coffee with the dude, face to face.

This brief correspondence filled the coffers with possible topics for my little blog. I suppose, however, that they will need to marinade in my little brain for quite some time before I am capable of tackling them. One thing he said, though, is pounding in my brain like a clanging cymbal. It will not go away! Naturally, it involves possibly my greatest character flaw. What he said was something like this:

"Nothing is personal! THEY are not doing it to YOU. THEY are just doing what THEY do, and YOU happen to be in the blast radius."

He's joking, right? He could not possibly mean that. There is no possible way he actually believes that asinine comment.

Oh, it does kind of echo similar sentiments that have been expressed to me over the years. "Kevin, don't take things so personal." "Kevin, why do you take everything so personally?" "Kevin, believe it or not, everything on the planet is NOT all about you!"

Last Friday, my inability to practice this simple awareness hit me right between the eyes. On a topic that has absolutely NOTHING to do with me, I heard an absolute idiot express the stupidest opinion I have ever heard, and that dummy lived "rent free" in my head for the rest of the day! And I would be lying if I said he didn't creep back into my tortured brain on more than one occasion over the weekend.

My negative self-talk, on any given day, gives me dozens of reasons to hate myself. This one, however, is NUMBER 1! For me, even at 51 years old, this is my Hardest Lesson of All.

I think that the self- loathing is amplified by the fact that today was my 256th day in a row to meditate. Is it working at all?

Those closest to me seem to think that the meditation is making a difference. So, I'm not going to give up hope. And for today, or maybe the rest of the morning, or maybe for just the next 5 minutes, I'm going to just sit back and relax in the blast radius. And with all the earnestness in my heart, I'm going to try and remember that "they are simply doing what they do."

Friday, March 11, 2016

I'll Alert The Media

Probably the most overused movie quote incorporated in our house is from the the movie Arthur.  When Arthur informed his manservant of his intentions to take a bath, Hobson promptly replied, "I'll alert the media." Hardly a week passes, in our house, that when some one's immediate plans are being discussed, one of us quickly responds, "I'll alert the media."

Lately, my little brain has been considering mankind's need for significance and his almost ridiculous lust for recognition. Indeed, I am beginning to believe that man's search for significance may lead to the undoing of us all. And I really haven't thought this all the way through. Maybe "search for significance" and "need for recognition" are two separate entities. Quite possibly, they are worthy of their own posts. But for today's rant, I am going to jump back and forth between the two. It's okay. It's my blog.

For years, I've belonged to a Fellowship that rents a meeting space here in town. It is well known among the members that "clean-up" is every Saturday morning at 9:00 A.M. Several years ago, I looked up and realized that only two members were there for clean-up. Spring was there. And I was there. I asked Spring if the two of us were going to clean this place by ourselves. He looked at me and said, "Yes we are. And we're not gonna tell a soul." How funny is that! Poor Spring. He actually thought that I was going to be of service and not get any recognition. I looked him squarely in the eye and replied, "You may not plan on telling anybody. But I'm telling everyone I know!"

Spring's idea of service without recognition was quite possibly the stupidest thing that I had ever heard of. I mean it was truly a ROFL moment for me. I would like to tell you that things have changed over the years. Sadly, they haven't, for the most part.

The old adage "if you spot it, you got it" really rings true with the condition with which I suffer. And man oh man, can I ever spot it! You are out there killing yourselves for recognition. You so need to be significant. You truly need the recognition. And it's happening at every level in society....from parking lot attendants at places of worship to occupiers of the most powerful seats of power in the nation. We have a crazy, almost insane obsession with making a name for ourselves....to be significant....to be recognized. It is literally killing a couple of people with whom I used to be very close. It makes me sad. But I am forced to sit idly by and let them learn this important life lesson.

There is good news. There are exceptions. They do exist. They are out there. I remember a couple of folks from my youth who exemplified what a true servant might look like. The Old Man married one of these strange people after my mother died. How he got so lucky, I'll never know. It was his second wife in a row that exemplified servant hood. Just a few houses down from me are a couple of people who have served on every board, committee, organization, and booster club that time will permit for two people who also have full time jobs.

I've never talked to them about it or interviewed them as to why? I've just simply observed. For nearly twenty years, I've just observed.

Seemingly, these people and a small percentage of the inhabitants of our planet seek to be of service without accolades or recognition. It's a foreign concept to me. But evidently, they do it. And they do it because

It is just the right thing to do.

"The fruit of faith is Love. The fruit of love is Service. The fruit of service is Peace." --Mother Teresa

Monday, February 8, 2016

Einstein Was Not That Stupid

At one time or another, Albert Einstein has been credited with saying or writing just about every clever word ever uttered. Mark Twain runs a close second. Will Rogers no doubt comes in third.

Then, there's Honest Abe. I posted that famous quote on my Facebook timeline from Abraham Lincoln when Abe smartly opined, "You can't believe everything you read on the Internet."

The world wide interweb offers a daily deluge of meadow muffins because of our ability to take a tired cliche, drop it on a picture of, say, John Wayne, and within just a few hours, millions of people think the Duke said something that he simply was not bright enough to say.

One of the more famous attributions goes to Albert Einstein for defining insanity. Although, there is absolutely NO  historical evidence to support the claim, Einstein supposedly defined insanity as "Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results."

It's kind of cute. Maybe even a little clever. The Recovery folks have spouted this nonsense for years. It's even in their literature. The problem is this....IT'S JUST WRONG!

Just relax. Take a deep breath. Think about it. Really think about it. Expecting a different result is actually kind of healthy thinking. The desire for a different or better result is evidence of a healthy, positive mind. If this were not the case, no one in the world would ever cast a rod & reel in hopes of catching a fish. The professional fisherman or hobbyist will cast and cast and cast again with the certain expectation that the NEXT cast could very well bring a different result.

Stainless made this very clear to me several years ago during one of the darker points in my life. He lovingly and patiently pointed out that "Kevin, I know THEY are telling you that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. That is simply not true. You are doing the same thing over and over again, knowing *&%$ well what the result is going to be. And you are doing it ANYWAY! That sir, is insane!"

Hopefully you have had one of these "Ah Hah" moments! This was a game changer for me. This change in perception has profoundly impacted how I go about my daily walk.

Einstein was not stupid.  Old Albert probably understood that "expecting a different result" is really healthy thinking. In fact, "expecting a different result" is really a sign of HOPE!

And isn't HOPE what we really need anyway?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

I Think I Lost My Scope

The high tone Health Club to which I belong sends me a magazine every couple of months encouraging me to live a healthy lifestyle. In truth, it's not a bad publication. But I will not name it nor endorse it because they keep raising my membership dues. There's actually a story there. I would have NEVER joined this club. But they bought out the locally owned gym I belonged to and they have grandfathered my rates at a much lower price than new members pay. I digress....

In the recent issue, an article entitled "True Joy" features a Q&A with some hippie yoga instructor (not the Denton Yogi) that is trying to convince me the path to true joy is a path lined with yoga mats. I don't totally discount her assertions. But that's a whole story within itself. I might address that topic one day. I could have won the $100K on America's Funniest Home Videos if someone had ran tape on my attempts at yoga. In a "not so obvious" stifled laugh, the Denton Yogi finally queried, "Just WHAT is going on down there on the blue mat on the end?" I digress....

One of the statements I cannot get out of my mind concerns this lady seeking comfort in the stories of the strong and independent Greek goddess Artemis. She explains how she came across a prayer that said, "Artemis, huntress of the moon, make my aim true."

Needless to say, this request to a pagan god, has entered my mind, almost daily now, for three weeks. Lying in bed that night, I knew I had a topic. I just had NO IDEA how to address it. And I still don't.

Make my aim true. Make my aim true. Make my aim true.

Naturally, I get the most joy out of dissecting your aim and feeling oh so superior because, at least, my aim is not as bad as yours. Your aim, as mentioned before, is a veritable smorgasbord of shallowness and offers me great opportunities to practice silent scorn and hold contempt for you. Then I am reminded of "shared human experience" and I must dredge up at least enough humility to confess that often my aim is an exact duplicate of yours.

Our collective aim is so misguided and so SMALL. It's wrapped up in  relationships, kids, degrees, jobs, houses, cars, vacations, cabins, boats, hobbies. The list goes on and on and on. But just pick any one of the above. Make it your sole aim. Convince yourself that True Joy is found in that and that alone. Lacking is the only word that comes to mind.

The question is real and the challenge is monumental. Just what are we aiming for?

I spent most of 2015 wondering if I made the right decision at the end of 2014. I got 100%, complete affirmation, that indeed I had, late last year. But where do I focus my aim in 2016?

The Preacher has said for years, that the literal meaning of the word "sin" in the original language means to "miss the mark." Some days, the scope won't come into focus. Other days, the scope seems broken. And on bad days, I can't even find my scope.

But in my heart of hearts, it is my sincere intention to AIM TRUE. Intention. Intention. It's been experience, that you guys aren't really looking at my intentions. You are only witness to my actions.

Friday, January 1, 2016

NO One Was as Cool as Jack

I missed a phone call from the Old Man this morning while I was meditating. (For those of you keeping score, it was Day 160 in row).

When I returned the call, I was informed of the overnight passing of my Uncle Jack. Evidently, his health had been failing of late, and he died peacefully in his sleep.

Jack was the husband of my Dad's sister, my Aunt Joyce. Joyce died several years ago following decades of poor health. As I understand it, he had been living with his daughter, my cousin, Connie for quite some time.

It's amazing how my mind has been racing since I got this phone call. And it's just a flood of memories back to my youth. I only have memories from my youth because we have been gone from that area for so long and I haven't been back in years. It's been at least 15 years since I saw my Uncle Jack.

When I was a kid, Jack was larger than life! He had jet black hair, combed straight back. He was a sharp dresser. I remember the leather coats. I remember walking along beside him and running my hand into a pocket on one of those leather coats and feeling a gun. "Boy, don't put your hand in that pocket" was all he said.

He had big cars. Anyone remember those 98 Oldsmobiles in the 70's? On the Interstate, the gas pedal was always to the floor. I would be sitting in the middle. Of course, we weren't wearing seat belts! He would tap me on the leg and point to the speedometer. The needle would be be buried!

I remember the motorcycles. It's likely that at point, he owned almost every type of motorcycle ever manufactured. Of course there was the Harley. But the greatest story was when he, my Dad, and a few other guys all bought Honda 350's to ride on Saturday mornings. Well, most of them bought 350's. Jack bought a 450 and had 350 emblems put on it! Jack's good friend, Tom Gordy was possibly the best mechanic in North Georgia. Jack just loved to terrorize Tom because Tom could never seem to get his 350 tuned up quite well enough to keep up with Jack's "350."

Jack was the King of CB Radio before CB was even cool. He had a 60' Tower in his back yard that had a 40' long antenna on top of it! When he keyed the Mic, everybody had to listen! His CB handle, you ask? Of course, it was Cracker Jack!

For years, he drove fully loaded International Scout. When he would take me running around with him, we would always stop by his friend's Jeep Dealership. Jack would drive right up to the Service Door. He would sit on the horn until somebody raised the bay door. He would then drive right into the service garage, screech the tires and yell, "All you Jeep drivers, eat your hearts out!"

He loved to laugh! He loved to have a good time! His impact on me as a 10 year old is simply unforgettable.

His wife, my aunt, got sick in the 70's and never regained her health. He served her faithfully, and spared no expense, making sure she was comfortable until her death. This was all done in their house. He would never have even considered putting her into a long term care facility. I expressed my admiration to him in a letter when she died. I told him that his example to me of a faithful, serving husband would never be erased from my mind.

I've only lost one Uncle prior to Jack and that was nearly 30 years ago. And by no means is this post meant to "rank the uncles." I've got an Uncle in North Georgia who is the definition of mellow and laid back. I would be so much a better man if I could be more like him. I've got an Uncle in South Carolina who is the ultimate, rugged outdoorsman. He's a Man's man! A kind of man I could never hope to be.

But today, my mind is on Jack. And NO ONE was as cool as Jack!