Wednesday, February 29, 2012


THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE is another line you may recognize from the Bible.  It's from 1st Corinthians, chapter 13, and has probably been read at almost as many weddings as "Do you take this...", your mom and dad's being no exception.  Some translations use "charity" instead of love, but I like this version a lot better.  Being an old man who has had the opportunity to sample many things, I can tell you that there is truly nothing better than loving and being loved.  In that order.  There is a movie called "Marvin's Room"  in which one of the characters , who is dying of cancer, says, "I've been lucky.  I've had so much love in my life."  The person she is talking to replies,  "Yes.  There are so many people who love you!"  She answers back, "No. I mean I have gotten to love so many people."

At your parents wedding, there was an opportunity to address the bride and groom.  When it was my turn, I said to your dad, "Try to remember, every day, that loving this woman is the most important thing you will ever do."  I believed it then and I believe it now.  Find someone who is so special to you that you cannot imagine not living the rest of your life with them and then do whatever it takes to make that happen.  Someone has said marriage isn't 50 50;  it's 100 100.  Sometimes being married takes a lot of work.  That's OK.  Things that are worth having usually do.  Do the work and reap the rewards.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012


STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES.  No doubt you have heard some variant of this phrase more times than you ever wanted to.  Too bad!  It gets repeated because it's important.  It is easy for us to get so fixated on some goal that we ignore everything else.  Enjoying life should not be something we are  going to start doing as soon as we _________ (You fill in the blank).  Life is now.  Enjoy it now.  You do not have to wait until you are rich or successful, or famous or powerful to be happy.  Learn to enjoy the world around you, the gifts of beauty and fun that are offered at every turn.

"See a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wildflower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
and eternity in an hour."

Figure out what Blake meant by those lines and you will have gone a long way toward understanding how to get the most out of life.  Here is one more quote I would like you to always carry with you, "This is the day the Lord has made;  let us rejoice and be glad in it."  Whatever your feelings about "the Lord," don't pass up the opportunity to "rejoice and be glad."  It's why we are here.


Monday, February 27, 2012


DO THE RIGHT THING.  That's actually a movie title, but I'm not going to talk about the movie.  Your dad wanted me to write about what I want you to know about me, so today I am going to relate a couple of experiences from my life.
  Once, many years ago, I was walking down an aisle at a grocery store and saw a one hundred dollar bill laying on the floor.  My first thought was that it must be a fake, possibly a religious pamphlet made to look like money and dropped deliberately.  Nevertheless, I did pick it up and it turned out to be genuine.  I thought about finding a store manager and making an attempt to return the money to its rightful owner, but quickly talked myself out of it with excuses like "It would never get back to the right person," etc.
  I kept the money, and some little while later it was gone, spent on I know not what.  The only difference that money has made in my life is that occasionally I still think a bit less of myself for not trying to return it.
  Some time later, I came across a roll of quarters on the floor at the local library.  Again I picked it up and took it home.  This time I called the library and told them that I had found a sum of money and that if anyone called them to report it missing I would return it.  In fact, they had received such a call and gave me the number of the caller.  The caller turned out to be an elderly lady who said that she had gotten the roll of quarters because that was what she needed for the bus which was her only means of transportation.  I took the money to her house and shared an hour of pleasant conversation with her talking about old times in Aurora and whatever else came up.  I left her house with the gift of feeling good about myself and that is a gift that I still enjoy to  this day.  I received something of great value for the ten dollars;  I bought some stuff with the hundred.  Do the right thing, you won't regret it.



DEBT SUCKS.  After only three posts, I am reduced to talking about money.  I guess your dad was wrong to think that I had much to tell you that was worth hearing.  However, this mundane subject is one that I do know something about.  Having spent a significant amount of my life managing money badly, I can tell you what not to do.  Some debt is probably necessary.  To get an education or buy a home or car may be impossible any other way.  Emergencies do happen.  Spending tomorrow's money to have more toys today will guarantee you a crappy tomorrow, and carrying the load of debt will ruin today so you won't even enjoy the toys.  I know all this because I've been there.  Your grandma and I probably spent more time arguing about money than we ever did about anything else.  Now we have lived debt free for a number of years and I can only say that we should have made it happen sooner.

There is no doubt we enjoy having things.  There is pleasure and pride in having a beautiful comfortable home.  When we are children we love getting toys.  As we get older, we like different “toys,” and most of them we have to get for ourselves so we devote a portion of our time to getting the means to have them.  We work.  We put in long hours doing things we don’t much care to do in order to have the means to do and have things we do want.  The trick is balance.  Don’t let acquisition become the focus of your life.  The lesson of “A Christmas Carol” is not only that we should care more for our fellow man.  It is also that we should not lose our life by trading it for the acquisition of things.

The breakthrough in dealing with money came for me in one small insight.  With the exception of a few necessities, the stuff that money can buy for us is all just stuff.  We think we are the ones doing the gripping, when in fact we are letting the things get a grip on us.  We let things (stuff) get so important to us that we lose sight of what really matters.  I know I’m just reciting the same old cliches, but friends, health, love, self-respect and peace of mind all are worth more than anything you will ever buy with money.   A little further on in this series of essays, I tell about the richest man I ever knew.  Take the lesson of his life to heart sooner rather than later and you will keep “stuff” from running (and ruining) your life.

Friday, February 24, 2012


GIVE.  Give your time and talent; be a volunteer for something you feel is worthwhile.  It feels good to do good.  You will enjoy it and you will feel good about yourself.  I give a couple of hours a week to trying to help guys who have gotten themselves into trouble because of alcohol and other drugs.  I don't know if I'm doing them any good, I can only hope that I am.  I do know that trying makes me feel good and that I'm at least trying to give a little back for all that I have been given.  You will have talents that can be used to help others;  there is no better way for you to use them.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


IT"S ALL INTERESTING.  Life doesn't get boring.  Boring is something we do to  ourselves.
It’s all interesting.  Life doesn't get boring.  Boring is something we do to ourselves.  It seems to me that many people wear boredom as if it was a fashion statement.  “Look at me!  I’m so sophisticated, so cool, that I am above being interested by anything.”  The trap is that they begin to believe it themselves and cut themselves off from experiencing life. Sophistication, true sophistication, means you have the capacity to enjoy more things. It means you can enjoy a Shakespeare play or a ballet.  It doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy an action movie or a square dance.

   "The world is so full of such wondrous things
     that we should all be as happy as kings."

That bit of Lewis Carroll means there is always something in our environment to engage us if we only let it.  Never be "too cool" to enjoy something; that's just denying yourself part of what life is offering.  A spider spinning a web or dealing with an insect it has captured is a “wondrous” thing.  So is watching a crew build a house or a bridge.  Your backyard is a nature preserve filled with all sorts of interesting creatures.  Even schoolbooks sometimes have mind catching stuff in them. 

NO VACANCY.  “Don't let anyone live rent free in your head.”  This is a phrase often heard in recovery groups.  It’s a one liner way of saying that we only hurt ourselves when we obsess over what someone else is thinking about us or has done to us or failed to do for us.  Holding a grudge or resentment because someone has hurt you only lets them keep on hurting you with no further effort on their part.  After 9/11, the mantra became "Don't let the terrorists win, get life back to normal."  Apply the same reasoning to one-on-one situations.  I like to remind the people I talk with about this that most people spend about as much time thinking about them as they do thinking about other people.  Someone else said, “Holding on to a resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other guy to die.”

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


That's me, don't I look like a grandpa?  I am starting this blog because my son asked me to write a letter to my grandkids that would tell them "What I would like them to know about me and what about life do I want them to know?"  Both parts of the question are more challenging than I expected, so I have decided to try the blog/journal format so I can add to and possibly change what I say over time.  Since this is a public forum, most readers (if there are any) wouldn't be interested in the "What I want them to know about me"  part, so I'm not going to spend time here on that unless I think it will help explain my response to the second part.  I do believe that "What I would like them to know about life" is the basis for some interesting rumination.  I hope that there will be some readers who will offer their own thoughts on the subject.

So, Scarlett, Wyatt and Belle, here are my thoughts on what I think you should know about life.

LIFE IS GOOD!  Believe that with your whole heart.  Be good!  Life is better if you are a positive participant, adding to it not taking away from it.  Being good doesn't just mean obeying your parents and teachers or the law or even the ten commandments.  It means helping when you can help, giving when you can give, sharing when you can share, loving when you can love.  Do these things and I guarantee you will enjoy your life.

SOMEBODY ELSE SAID IT BETTER.  Any ideas I try to pass on to you, I got from somewhere.  Someone said it; someone wrote it; so listen, and read.  Then think about what you have heard and read.  Roll it around in your mind until it makes sense to You.  Read The Prophet by Khalil Gibran; read Everything I Need to Know I learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum; read everything by Dr. Seuss.  Read the opinions of people you don’t agree with.  And then think about why you disagree with them.  Then think about why they might be right and you might be wrong.  Think about why you might be right and they might be wrong.  Think.

That's a start.  I'll try to add more over time.