She came up to me while I was in line at the bakery. I hadn’t seen her for years. “Hi Al!” she said. “Is life treating you great?” The way she asked it, there was only one acceptable answer. I wish you could have seen the contortions my mind was going through in the several seconds between her question and my answer. I knew there were a couple of options for my response.
Let’s face it – we all make stuff up! While we have legitimate questions — Why didn’t they call back? Why wasn’t I invited? I wonder why I wasn’t chosen for this or that? — we often answer them with a negative and active imagination.
Last week, looking out the back window of our house, I saw our dog Hobbs standing over the carcass of a possum. He was sniffing it cautiously and had a “what do I do now?” look about him. Finally, he walked away, disappointed with the end of his chase. As he was leaving, I saw […]
I have a confession to make that may make some of you dismiss me as having neither taste nor class. Judge me if you will:
I LIKE THE THREE STOOGES.
I said it.
Recently my sons and I went to a soccer match in Upton Park, England (they call it football there). The game was between West Ham United and Arsenal. Arriving early, we enjoyed food from street vendors that would make a cardiologist weep.
Soon we made our way to our seats and as the stadium filled, a man sat next to me. He was in his 60s, dressed warmly in a long, dark coat with a scarf around his neck. He looked toward the field with a blank stare.
On a chilly December morning several years ago, our family packed into the car and headed to church. When I pulled off the interstate, I saw a man sitting on the curb near the end of the exit ramp, holding a cardboard sign.
I was relieved that there was a car in front of me at the stoplight. Frankly, I was not in a good mood and was irritated that he was there. I heard an inner voice whispering something like “Who knows where he’ll spend that money.” So I stared forward, anxious for the light to change and annoyed to find out that this particular light was the first prizewinner in the “slowest light in the country” contest!
The driver’s window of the car in front of us opened.
Not long ago, a good friend of mine called me. A friend of his had gotten into trouble, and was now in a halfway house in Nashville. He asked if I would visit him, and maybe take him a toothbrush and some underwear. I agreed and made my way there one evening.
When I got there, I sat with my friend’s friend on the back deck of the halfway house and talked about how he ended up there. As we talked, another man came out on the deck, lighting up his cigarette as he sat down. There was a weathered look about him. He had dark, leathery skin, and looked like he had endured the sun, the rain, and the wind for long, long time. I couldn’t tell how old he was, but I was sure that he was younger than he looked.
I used to have a phobia. Any time a warning light began to blink on the dashboard of my car, a low black cloud descended upon me and I began to sink into anxiety and depression. My mind filled with worst-case scenarios, emptying my bank account.
There was a time in my life (let’s just call it my Denial Decade) when I would put a piece of black tape over the blinking light so I wouldn’t have to deal with it.
The reason for all this anxiety was this:
I knew absolutely nothing about anything that resides under the hood of a car. (For years I thought a McPherson Strut was some kind of Irish dance.) Thus, whenever I took my car in for repairs, I had this look on my face [...]
Many years ago, when our boys were 3 and 6, our family took off for a weekend in the mountains. We found a great cabin, settled in and decided to take a hike that afternoon in the Stone Door Wilderness area with its stunning views of a long, deep valley.
This hike was going to be challenge, particularly for 3-year-old Brent. It was one mile to the destination; one mile back. This would be his longest hike ever and he decided that he wanted to do the whole thing without any assistance (no piggyback rides).
Soon after our hike began, it started to rain. To distract us from our the impending misery, we sang hiking songs, played “I Spy,” and I told the kids that as a reward for the hike, we’d have some hot chocolate (their favorite) when we got back to the cabin [...]
It was my son Hunter’s first soccer game of the season. And like most youth soccer games, the five-year-old boys, with shirts down to their knees, looked like a swarm of bees, oblivious to the coach’s instructions to “spread out.” Still, they managed to get the ball up and down the field, and all but a few ‘intense’ parents had a great Saturday morning.
One day, the coach put Hunter in as the goalie. Inexperienced at the position, he was eager to put on the special goalie outfit (complete with a brightly colored shirt and gloves). Soon he was standing there in all of his splendor. When the first ball went past him, I didn’t think much about it. After all, I’ve seen professionals miss a ball or two. After the 6th ball hit the net behind him, I began to get worried.
When the opposing team’s score hit the two-figure mark, I began to sweat. The competitive parents began whispering [...]
Yesterday I blew it. I made a mistake. I’m not going to bore you with the details, but let’s just say it had to do with banking and paying bills, two things that are not my gift. I was being pretty hard on myself for a while, and then I remembered a lesson I learned a year ago.
For several weeks last summer, I spent far too much time watching the Olympics. I cheered at victories, got teary over the back-stories, and yelled mature things like “we were robbed!” at officials who remained oblivious to my complaints.
After it was over, I made a decision [...]