re: What’s left in life? What’s more important than sex?

I had two talks today, one with a guy who was seventy years old. He said to me:

“What do I have to offer anyone, except for a lifetime of experiences? Who wants hard earned complex understanding in a world of instant information parading as knowledge?”

Then this one with a woman almost the same age :

“You know all that crap about sex? Well, that is for reproductive age people. For me (age sixty something): Just hold me. Make me laugh. Listen to me. Cuddle. Smile, and be kind. Even when I had a period, the only time I was “horny” like males, was when I was ovulating. As far as I am concerned, have sex with me as much as you want during those three days, the rest of the month: well, just hold me. Make me laugh. Listen to me. Cuddle. Smile, and be kind. Save that sex stuff for when the hormones, and your body can handle it.”

Well, there you go. What do you folks think? Smiles, Kevin

RE: A Christmas Poem, but , not one like you have ever read before…

It was the night before Christmas when I heard a scream,
It wasn’t from the hallway, from a room, or even a dream

No, what I heard on that fateful night, was the soul scream from things not being right.

” We need money for almost every dream, we need money for almost every thing, we have started to think, mistakenly so, that money is the thing we need.

You can’t pay your electric bill, with hope and a prayer,
When the electric bill gets paid, the money better be there,

If you are sick and can’t think, or sleep, into your car to a Doctor, a pharmacy, or a clinic you must creep,

Even with a fever, a stupor, or pain in your ear, You’d better keep money, or credit card near

It is money we want, and money we need, and we , even in Christmas follow this creed.

They say it is the thought that counts, giving that completes,
so how come with the gifts we give, it is the prices that compete?

If you got socks you can use, or perfume that you can’t, you think the smile, the companionship, the love that it shows, would be enough,

But you can’t compete with an Ipad, or cash, or even a car, for none is enough…

So in the season of Heavenly cheer, realize the world that Scrooge admired is already here…open up your window, let the Spirits appear,

Just visit for good will, the food, and good cheer, with nary a gift within sight, or even very near,

Find out about the life of someone you cherish, or hold dear
And have a glass of water, or maybe a beer, be pleasant, and fun, and thoughtfully appear, to have been glad to be invited, and that you hold that dear, to your heart,

Without any gifts, of the mercantile kind, you can leave from door with a smile as wide as your behind, because as you left, and went to depart, you left no money, no gifts, no rewards, just a bit of yourself that you didn’t hoard.

So Merry Chistmas this year, and stay out of the store, tell a story of your past, and then tell one more, regale the children with hidden glee, of the way their Dad and their Mommy used to be,

Then giggle and chuckle as you eat the food, one dish per person brought to the hood, no one person cooking from dawn until dusk, so sweaty from cooking and hoping it comes our right, that she has only stress and overwhelm in her stocking that night

So, one dish a piece, bring your own beer, be prepared to smile, to listen, to hear, and what a Christmas you will have….this year.

Merry Xmas, Kevin

re: Fat man, Fat man, what you gonna do? The story of letting go…maybe!

Aloha All,
Three weeks. That is all I have been retired. I put on 11 pounds…in three weeks. Already, after the first week, I noticed I wasn’t moving around as much, and on the ship, I took 7 flights of stairs (fourteen if you count going down too) at least six times a day, to go get water, or eat, or workout. There are no stairs in my home, and only one tiny step by the front door. The ship is 1,000 feet long, food was at the back, my cabin in the front- so, just to go eat, once- I would cover more than half a mile- plus the seven flights of stairs.
One time, a Magician bought us all those little pedometers- and we all covered more than 40,000 steps a day. The lowest total I recorded was 23,000. I would be willing to bet, I am just at 10,000 steps while I am at home, and combine that with no stairs and junk food, and well, you get the ten pounds I didn’t need to put on. I am over 200lbs for the first time in more than three years.
Okay, so do I want pleasure or happiness? Donuts are pleasure. Health is happiness.
I am not sure what decision I am going to make. I already upped my moving around quite a bit, that part was easy, because I have always like moving around. Now though, the other part of the equation, eating correctly and well; is what I need to really decide on. I have the information, I understand the basics, and I even know when to eat, and how to chew ( something a lots of folks overlook), and how to wait for your brain to get the “I am full” signal from your stomach.
So, why don’t I take advantage of my knowledge? I think, I am finding out, that wisdom is actually just using the knowledge you have. If I am wise, I shall make the small, but effective changes I need for Happiness. If I am not wise, I shall choose pleasure and the donuts will be the death of me. Did I retire just to kill myself with being overweight and inactive? Stay tuned, the jury is not only out, it isn’t even in the room yet.
Kevin the rotund.

Flash Fiction: Stories in a few sentences….

Spring stood in the door way, sweaty and cool at the same time: unable to decide if it should enter and stay, or step aside to let Winter have a last breath.

Love stumbled into her heart, tripping over lost loves, and old broken promises. She reached her hand out to help balance Love, until it could find its bearings.

The child was held. The child was loved. The child knew this. The child didn’t remember any of that, but the child inside- did.

In his anger, words poured out that would come back to wound him. And here, he thought, he had hurled those word to hurt her.

The Alien stood on Earth, looking at the edge of the jungle and the beginning of the sand. “What an Alien landscape!” thought the Alien. And isn’t that what anyone thinks who hasn’t been here before?

She leaned against her husband. She knew his smell. She knew his heart. She knew he loved her. So what if he was short, fat, and old? She was young in his heart, and that was what mattered.

The stone sang. “Marvelous!” Said the brook, and danced over another stone to hear its song.

“Are you coming out?” Asked the Sun.

He couldn’t make his little tricycle go any faster. The little streamers: pink, green, blue, yellow and red, fluttered in a hurry to keep up.

The young mother held her baby. It was a quiet moment, as both leaned lightly on the other. Only their breath gently brushed up against each other.

He made it. He was five years old. The bucket of sand turned upside down, was the greatest castle ever made, even though only two thirds of it withstood his tiny fist on the little pail. He leaned back and smiled. I made it.

The snail couldn’t stop. It was on a side walk. Every snail knew the dangers. The green grass was only a foot a way, but the sun was trying to find him. He didn’t know they were hands, but the snail found himself in the grass, and heard the giggling of a small child- fade.

The bird looked through the window, as it often did. It liked the smiling face looking back at it. Often, the bird brought friends to watch the humans; they are so cute.

She let her robe slip to the floor. She tested the water with her hand, and again with her foot. As she slid into the soft water, a moment before her head surrendered to the bubbles: “This is what it means to be free.” came unbidden into her thoughts.

He was big. Burly. Hard. Only his heart was kind. Only she noticed, and for that , he would kill.

He looked at the car, the way most men look at women; with a look of longing, and a determination to own it. The car, like wise women, ignored him.

“You are my sister, would you like a flower?” “Oh! Boy! It is sure pretty.” And they kept playing.

The Church squirmed. It didn’t like the crowds at Easter, the pretty clothes, and fancy hats. No. Not at all. It much preferred the lone person, hat in hand, humble, asking in words that no poet could match: “I need help.”

The smile was plastered on her face. Her three year old hands could barely hold the ice cream. Most of her face took the first lick, but the smile held.

I had something to say once, but because I didn’t do it, it wasn’t heard.

Water calls to some people: “Come. Live near me.” Mountains call to some people: “Come. Live near me.” Even the Desert calls to some people: “Come. Live near me. ” But only people call: “Come. Live with me.”

The hamster was dead. The three children, tears reaching all the way to the floor, stared at the towel where he lay. Mom and Dad, were quiet, letting the children say goodbye. It was a chance to be a Mom and a Dad – and they took it. “Goodbye,” they said: as someday they would too.

The Sun packed up its Golden Rays, and gathered some purples and pinks too. The earth squealed with delight. “The sun is in a good mood today, this ought to be grand!” Even the night, usually disappointed by the appearance of the sun, wanted to linger a little longer to see this one.

The boy’s shoe lay on the floor, half a sock hanging from his foot. His other hand held a toy, which just moments ago was a rocket, a plane, and a monster: which only the toys of four year olds can be. His sweater bunched up a bit, so you could see his tiny ribs breath. His mom closed the door, and smiled.

 

RE: Three Conversations: China, Old Age, and Disabled….

Aloha All,

I ate breakfast with a Chinese Couple, and we ended up talking for about three hours. I mentioned to them, that on a News report about the Forbes Richest People List, I heard one of the talking heads say: “….China has a new millionaire every 22 minutes.” They both laughed.

“We are BORN millionaires !”

I asked them what they meant. They told me that because of the Chinese “One Child” Policy- all your eggs are in one basket so to speak. They said that when you get married, you are the only child, marrying an only child- so you have all the assets of the four in laws, plus the grandparents, plus your assets. When you have a child, it now has the assets of the Eight great grand parents, four grandparents, the two parents, and when it has a child- it now has the assets of a whole bunch of grown working adults behind it. In just five generations, you have almost 30 incomes supporting just you!!!

They explained to me, that when they got married, they received more than 100 apartments in High Rise Buildings in Shanghai, as wedding gifts! They rent them out to people who actually work for a living. So they have equity, and a cash flow, and that is just from friends and family members. They also have stocks, and bonds, and cars, and what have you.

She said that men and women of her generation, are much like members of the Royal Family. Educated beyond belief (her and her husband had to start learning to play musical instruments at age two! They are fluent in Chinese, Russian, English, and French. They had to Master Calculus by age ten (We don’t even teach it until HS!) and they are expected to get at least a Masters Degree. So, they are spoiled in one way, beyond belief- in another, they are driven to excellence- and forced to succeed.

She said if you go by some of those big buildings, they only have 10% occupancies, because there aren’t enough workers to afford to pay rent, and most of the Units are owned by the latest child. Wow. This couple was doing four two week cruises, each in a different part of the world- so they could get a taste of each continent. No money worries, and they are enjoying it immensely.

When they took the ukelele classes, they practiced every day for four hours- force of habit. They guy who teaches it, says they are already at the level, where they are pushing him! In just two weeks. They told me that they cannot fail to learn- it would be socially unacceptable where they are from. Can you imagine the pressure to have Master an instrument in just two weeks, while on vacation? Because of peer pressure? Sheesh….
Okay, then I talked to a couple in their nineties (he is 95 , she is 91) He was at Pearl Harbor, and is in the ship documentary about it, they made him give a talk- and he put on his old Navy Hat, and talked for about an hour and half. Anyways, I was eating lunch with them, and when he left to go get something …she said this to me:

“You know Kevin, I have been married to that man for more than 70 years, and I wish he would let us die. ”

I said: “What?” ( I can be quite clever at times.)

“Kevin, I am tired. I want to rest. He needs me, that is the only reason I am still alive. He just is one of those folks, who never wants to die. I was ready years ago. If it wasn’t for him, I know I could just go peacefully in my sleep.”

He came back with his tea, and we chatted about other things. I didn’t bring up what her and I talked about. I guess at a certain time of your life, it does get (pardon the pun) old. She is living because she is needed. Lots to think about there. Because one of my Aunts, said something very similar to Kathy one time. So, one lady at 91 is ready to go, and yet another guy at 95, isn’t.

I am learning so much about aging – and the varying attitudes that go along with aging – some days, you have fire and vim and vigor, other days, well, why get out of bed? LOL Some days you can leap out, and other days, you just can’t get out of bed, not because you don’t want to, but because of a cramp, a bad back, or you just don’t have the energy. LOL

And lastly, a guy in a wheelchair came over and thanked me for making eye contact when I said : “Good Morning.” He told me that most people don’t even look at him, or his three buddies ( I think I told you about them in an earlier email, the four double amputees, who are traveling in a group). Well, that led to another conversation. And this is a part of that one:

“You know Kevin, when you become disabled, the able bodied partner gets a new role- caretaker. And man, that screws everything up, because they have to switch back and forth, between the professionalism of a nurse: cold, clinical, and routine; and the quiet soul support of a loving partner. If you aren’t careful, you stop being a couple, and become Nurse and Patient. No joy, no laughter, no quiet moments. One is demanding and has needs, the other has to meet those needs, and hide their own.

Luckily, all four of us couples figured this out after a few years. It made all of us men become more independent. We wanted Wives, not Nurses. Our Wives wanted to be Wives , not Nurses. So, we forced our selves to stop the self pity (Think about that for a second my friends). We took over control of our lives again. We made sure that physical therapy did not take place in our home, but at a gym, or rehab place. Our home is our home!

We forced the insurance companies to give us actual Nurses for our recovery periods from operations and the like- our Wives were freed from 99% of the Caretaker roles. About the only thing they have to do, that we can’t, is put the wheelchair in the trunk (boot, for you Europeans) of the car.

We started dating our Wives again, and learning how to match up what physical things we can do, with what they need. For example, we all have pools now. Because in the water, legs aren’t really necessary- and we can play with our wives. We all have hot tubs, because it is very close to a bath, and what woman doesn’t like a long luxurious bath?
We watch movies a lot, so they can cuddle on the couch, and we all play Canasta once a week, rotating between the four houses. ”

I was amazed. He told me it took them all years to figure out what was going on, and how to fix, or find an alternative to correct their relationships. Trying to put all the things he and his wife told me, in a short email, well, I can only hit the highlights. I think I will close with this statement he made.

“You know Kevin when you stop thinking about you, and start thinking about her, she gets more of what she wants, and you get more of what you need. ”

Isn’t that the truth?

Smiles, Kevin

 

The Singer….(Story 18 in the Christmas series)

The Singer.

He was only nine months old. He could barely stand, and no way could he walk. He was cute, as all babies are when sleeping, or in a good mood. No one had noticed yet, although his mother had suspected- something was different about her boy. But, then again, don’t all mothers? When babies are born, aren’t hopes and dreams born with them? That somehow your child will be remarkable, and live a life you had hoped for yourself. She had those same hopes.

At nine months babies don’t usually talk, this one didn’t either. At nine months, babies make some “Ba” sounds and “Ma” sounds- if you are lucky, a “DaDa” sound may come out, as if on purpose. Until then, mostly cooing sounds come from the little tike. This one was no different. Except…

Except his sounds were sweet. Real sweet. They weren’t uttered, or spoken sounds. They were sung. Yes, sung. No one noticed at first- although often when he cooed, or said “ma” in rising and falling musical scales- people around him would smile. Absentmindedly.

You know, like the smile that comes to an older person when they find their glasses after a fruitless search- sitting quietly on the top of their head. Or the smile a child gets when it puts on a pair of shorts, and finds a washed and dried forgotten dollar bill, crinkled up in the pocket. Or the smile a young woman gets on her face, when she is reminded of her first kiss, from someone she loved- or at least thought she did. That absentminded smile, that flits across your face, and sits just on the edge of a full blown memory. That smile.

No one noticed that when he “Sang”. There could be no other description of his sounds. Nor did they notice that his little fingers were tapping out the time. The movements were so subtle and elegant, that not a single person, not even his mom, made the connection yet. Even when his foot would tap, they mistook it for the random fidgets of an infant becoming familiar with its body. No one noticed that when the radio was playing music, the baby was still. They were convinced the radio soothed him. No one knew he was listening.

It was when he started to talk, that people really noticed. If it was the first time you heard him sing: ” Hello”, or “Bye, bye,” for he never really spoke words, he sang them. Well, your head would snap back in delight, and like a baby, you would clap your hands together, and a grand: “Oh, My!” would float from your throat out into the air. “Bye Bye,” You would say back to him, with no intention of leaving. You just wanted to hear him sing it to you again. And he would.

He was only three years old, when he sang in front of people for the first time. The Church was crowded, it was Christmas , after all. Many folks were confused to see a little boy, maybe 3 years old, with a blue frock, loose curly hair, and somber quiet face, brought to the center of the Altar. His mother lowered the microphone, to no avail. He was so small he couldn’t reach it.

It didn’t matter to the little 3 year old. He pushed the Microphone away. He didn’t need it. He was going to sing. He loved to sing. He knew how to pitch his voice to the far corners of the church. He didn’t need electronic support then, nor did he need it in the future. Without lessons, without coaching, without teaching, or vocal lessons- he knew how to project his voice, like most of us know how to breathe. You just do.

Now some people in the Church were fidgeting:
“What’s that little boy doing up there? ”
“Some stage mother must have convinced the Pastor that their boy was special.”
“Is he going to speak? ”
Most of the church was busy murmuring, either disgust, curiosity, or gossip- it was Church after all. The murmurs didn’t stop, until the boy opened his mouth.

The words poured from the tiny boy. Fully shaped, and golden notes: spilled, soared, and swelled: filling the entire church, as they poured in a continuous flow of perfection. No one murmured now. No one even breathed. The music wouldn’t allow it. It wanted to be heard with out distraction.

The little boy went up an octave, and another, and yet another, and impossibly, yet another. Women had been crying for the last two octaves, dabbing constantly with light, dainty, white lace handkerchifes. Their emotions soaring along with his voice. In the upper registers, even the men, who up until that point, had only had shiny eyes focused on the source of the sound; well, they broke control, and water spilled down their faces too. It cascaded, unabated, unabashed, unnoticed, as it fell across the rough stubble of a few drinks to many on the Christmas Eve.

Then, his voice went up again. People fell to their knees, some called out, some raised their arms, families struggled to hold onto each other- and still the little boy sang. He sang of love, of joy, of hope, of the pure innocence of childhood. He sang of lost loves, and failed promises. He sang of unkind words, and sharp tongues. He sang of all that a human could be, would be, or should be. With inhuman skill, he wove the tapestry of all that is Human.

Words lost all meaning. It was the sound that connected. He became a conduit to everyone’s soul. Some souls surrendered early, and floated up the octaves with his voice. Some struggled, unable to free themselves from a forgotten guilt or shame. He sang until even those folks could release the pain. He sang of the bittersweet memories forced on widows, or widowers, or any one who lost a loved one. When he sang for those folks, peace descended on them- a peace that would last. A peace that would muffle grief, so that the pleasant memories could surface again, without the stabbing pain grief left in their hearts.

He sang of young love, first love, true love. Of earned love. Of given love. Of the newness of love. The sharp passionate love of a teenager, and the warm blanket of familiar love, snuggled up over time. He sang of the complicated forms of women loving. Loving their men, their children, their grandchildren. He sang of the more basic kinds of male love. A kind of love that wants to provide safety, security, protection. Male love need to be recognized, because unlike female love- it isn’t always there. He sang of that too. And he went up yet another octave.

Everyone broke now. Statues weeped. Angels peered down from heaven. God himself cocked his head to one side, closed his eyes, and smiled. Still he sang.

He sang of life, of living. Of animals, and birds, and things that swim. He sang of rainbows, and sunsets, and golden yellow streaks of light, passing by wine red clouds. He sang of snow so gentle it clung to your eyebrows, didn’t melt, and made you aware. He sang of hot chocolate being sipped while looking out at the cold. He sang of those moments where you sat alone, but not lonely, enjoying just being. Your mind empty of worry, or fear, or frustration. Those few rare moments, when you were fully ensconced in the present. He sang that with quiet elegance. Capturing in sound, the silent mind.

He sang of your journey in life, and for each person, that song sounded different. One would hear forgiveness, another the future, yet another would let an old grudge slide down into the sound- like a glacier calving. Thundering thru the soul, and leaving less anger behind. He sang of new hope, of new dreams, of making a difference.

Then, a strange thing happened. People started to sing back. At first shy little whispered words sung in the wrong pitch, in the wrong time, in some key known only to them. It didn’t matter to the boy, for he heard their songs. He wrapped his voice around their fledgling songs. He made a safe path through the progressions for the weaker voices to follow safely. To rise up without fear of criticism, or embarrassment, to just sing their song, their way, and join in. Along the way exposing hearts to honesty. For he sang the truth back at them, and found it within their songs.

Now everyone was singing. The sound became a wall of human emotions, and it danced to the music. Arms were flung wide, eyes leaked joy, feet kept a tempo and a down beat. Body, soul, and heart, joined with the mind, to melt into the boy’s voice. For still, even with humanity exposed in all its many guises, and with love flowing like soft ice cream on a hot summer’s day from the throats of throngs of people in that church- it was his voice bringing it all together.

Then he stopped. The silence tip toed in, as not to disturb the music as it settled into hearts, memories, and souls of young and old alike. People looked around, as if unfamiliar with their surroundings. It took some longer than others, for their souls had been exposed for the first time- and it is uncomfortable to find out about yourself. Others, were still lost in the song, and hanging out with a lost relative, or memory. Some, well, some were still savoring that first kiss, or the joy of holding a newborn, or of a goal worked for and reached.

The boy smiled. Looked for his mom, and left the altar. He liked singing. Yes, he did.

 

Why Love at all….

A lot of folks seem to think they would be happier – without someone to love in their lives. That it would be simpler, and they would have more liberty. No rules. No compromising. No curfews. To quote one of my favorite movies (which contains some deep meanings for the shades of love) Groundhog Day:

“No tomorrow? That would mean their would be no rules. We could do whatever we want!”

“You are right. …be nice to your sister, don’t talk back, oh, and don’t drive on the Railroad tracks. I am not going to follow their rules anymore. ”

And he didn’t. Yet, he was missing something. Even after he had every woman he wanted, or society told him he should wan: skinny, beautiful, big breasted, willing. He had everything he wanted: Mercedes, money, moxie. With all the time in the world, and the chance to know his world well; something was still missing. It was love. Not just personal love of another human being. He had no love for himself, for people in general, for Knowledge, or Art, or Music, or Learning, or Math, or Science, or Community. He was bereft of love.

After all he went through he discovered one of the real keys, and he says it out loud:

” I don’t love myself, heck, I don’t even like myself.”

He didn’t know even how to Love himself. He was a narcissist- which isn’t really loving oneself- it is excluding everyone – including yourself. Self love, makes you desire to be more than you are, or more than you thought you could be. It makes you want to share.

Yes. Share. It is one of the main reasons you should love. Can you name one thing you Love- that you didn’t want to share? Except maybe a person. LOL If you saw a great video clip, a cute card, a wonderful movie, or read a great book; you tell folks. You want them to have the same experience you had. Ever eaten a great meal at a restaurant – and not told anybody about it? Have you ever just forgotten to tell someone about a sunset, a painting, a song? No.

Love does that. It excites, it uplifts, it demands to be shared, to erase limits and boundaries. Love flows. It is never static. It can throb, and ebb, and flow, but it is constantly changing in both nature and depth. It can never be used up, but it can be closed off. Love is like math. If every single one of the 7 Billion people on this planet adding things up , every day, they would never run out of either numbers, or things to add. Love is like that. The more you love, the more you can love. You can’t deplete love. You can kill it. By strangling it with rules about who, and when, and what- you should love. You can make it conditional, in which case, it isn’t really love anyway. You can confuse love with your sexuality. Sex is a lot of fun- and with a partner it can be even better! LOL  But, sex isn’t love. It is a way to express it. Kind of an adult hug.

When you confuse it with love, when the sex is over, so is the love.

I would argue – in the old sense of the word; a reasoned set of steps; that love is worth the price. Love allows you to expand your humanity. It becomes inclusive. It becomes passionate. It becomes a driving force to learn more about a person, an art form, or a subject. It frees you from the guilt and shame of your past, as love forgives. As the Poets and songwriters always try to capture in their words: ” I love you. Just as you are, not as you were, and not as you will be.” Love can be in the moment , and the moment itself.

Why love at all?

Well, as the song says: ” Love is all there is. ”  It really is.

More thoughts on Good, better, best.

Hey Gang,

I got some replies off of my : “Good, better, best” blog. David (who is a theater coach, and a Minister- sent me this succinct message. I am including his very profound thoughts, and my reply. Smiles Kevin who admires so many of his deep thinking friends.

Here is David’s email:

So Kevin, where’s the place for contentment in your life? Is there any point where you can say, “This is good. This is enough.” I like the idea of doing my best, but there is a matter of balance. I see folks all the time that are driven to do their best… in one aspect of their life and the rest goes down the toilet. I venture to say that most really “successful” people in this world are really crappy at being a complete person and loving their families and just appreciating life – from my experience anyway.

I guess I am more of a person seeking balance. I want to improve on the things that I do and I certainly appreciate learning, but as I get older I more and more think that truly successful people have found that place of contentment. A good balance of rewarding work, whether or not we are the best, a healthy family life, whether or not I am the perfect husband and father, and every here and there a sense of peace – that life is good… just as it is. So am I a slacker or am I becoming an old fart?

Like to hear your thoughts. Always enjoy reading your stuff!
Dave

And, here is my reply:

 

Aloha David,

First, I would like permission to use your words in a Blog – I, of course, will say : ” My friend who is a teacher and preacher, had this to say:…..” That way, the hate mail comments come to me. LOL

Second, in the Blog, I mentioned the same thing you brought up – the price for “Best work” is high. Real high. Life altering high. I alluded to the same conclusion you came too- most of them sacrificed a marriage, their personal life, or even their health. A few though, moved into a place where they could only be content, with their best.

I am going to have to use Basketball and Art for examples. When Michelangelo did the Sistine Chapel – well, you know the story. Yet, five centuries later, it is still one of the most studied, looked at, and awe inspiring pieces of Art in the World. On his back, on rickety scaffolding, without being paid, with paint dripping into his eyes- for years. The price he paid was enormous; the gift he gave us- incalculable.

Michael Jordan and Larry Bird were shooting a commercial. In it they were both supposed to miss a shot on purpose. To save money, they put both of them on the court together at the same time. More than 30 shots a piece later, neither had missed. The Director called a halt, had them leave the court. He had a meeting with the camera folks and they figured out two things. First, two champions are not able to lower their game when put next to each other. Second, in order for them to miss, they will have to change something. So, they did. they lowered the basket by a little over an inch – while they were both out of the room.

They brought them back – one at a time- and what they discovered was, they both only missed their first shot! By the second shot they had already adjusted. And, they both mentioned that the rim was off: …”maybe by an inch or so.” When you do your best, it is hard not to do your best. Good- isn’t good enough.

Balance, as I understand from your letter- is a great goal. In fact, it may be the “best” way to live. LOL I am not being facetious, nor condescending. I do believe a balanced life- may be the BEST way to live. Again, making best , well the best in your life. It means you have discovered what areas you can let go of, and which you can keep- at least good enough at parts of your life to see that they give a gestalt – leading to the “best life”. Yet, I daresay, the number of people who are super successful, or changed History, or Art, or beliefs, or Science, or Math, or Industry, or Music – who had any semblance of “balance” in their lives; would be a very short list indeed.

Most of us, find the thing we are best at- and do that to support the balance in our lives. You have two – which is rare enough, you are both a preacher and a teacher. Putting those musicals on every year- getting the “best” out of your students. Who give up their time, their extra curricular activities, and social lives, to put on the Best Play they can! Then you also preach. Each week, listening to your congregation to find the best way to communicate to them, the principles of Faith you here them seeking. In your case, you serve two masters- with one goal. Doing the best you can- to get past good, to better, to best!

Contentment and happiness- and they do not necessarily go together; are obtained only briefly by “best works”, few folks rest on their laurels – but if they could; if the work was their best- I think they could be contented. Happy? Hmm….When I watched the documentary : Run the Sahara; I don’t think the word happy is appropriate. Contentment with what they did, came much later – well after the run. Yet, they gave their best – and because of the one guy who became the “leader” they were forced to go beyond good enough. The guy that drove them to their best – is not a sympathetic character; yet, it is undeniably his best that drove them all past good enough. It might have cost them friendships, and it may have damaged more than a few egos. Yet, they ran the Sahara- more than a marathon a day- for more than a 100 days. They gave their best, and did not settle for good enough.

In my own life, what I am leaning towards is this; If you decide to do something- do your best. Good enough, is only good enough in certain areas. Once you decide to do something- give it your best. If you gave it your best, I am not sure you will be happy, or even contented. I do know you will have no regrets. You did do your best, and their is no good, or better , than that!

Smiles Kevin- who is good enough, but not yet, the best!

 

Hurricane Hunters are dream chasers…add on to yesterday’s blog.

Thank you everyone for your wonderful comments about the “Dreamers” blog; much to think about in your commentary. Including when should you give up on a dream? That will have to be its own blog. Alongside the comments that went along the lines of :

” If all you have is a dream, then why not keep it? Even if it is not possible, it gives you hope.”

Great point, and enough there to be its own blog. I also want to thank all the “Old School” folks who rushed to the aide of the young folks; those young ones who are chasing a dream with concentrated effort. like Grad Students, up and coming musicians, artists, engineers, and this story from a videographer on the ship – who reads my blogs, and then searches me out to talk about them. He is only 27 years old, and this is what he told me:

“Kevin, I know what you meant. I would have told that kid to “bugger off.” My roommate in LA at film school, used to work a “real job”, go to school full time, and then- when he had a few hours off; him- and four of his friends- would make Youtube videos. They would shoot twice a week, and plan and write almost every night. Sometimes working until four AM. He did that for four years! Eventually, he ranked number 2 in hits in his category. Everyone thinks he is lucky. I know better. He just flat out, out worked everyone else.”

Read those last three sentences again- and again. That is where the dream lives or dies.

Today, I ate breakfast with a retired Air Force guy, who was a Hurricane Hunter. I didn’t recognize the patch, and that is how we met. He told me that hunting storms takes great preparation. I told him that I was a private pilot, and we are taught to stay well clear of thunderstorms. He laughed, and said: “Good advice!”

I asked him if his planes were like, armor plated. or had rockets, to lift them in downdrafts, or stop them from updrafts. He laughed again.

“No Kevin. They are pretty much the same planes the Air Force uses for most missions; it is called a Hercules. It does have some pretty sophisticated radar, that can spot turbulence and wind shear, but other than that, it is pretty much off the shelf.”

“Well, then how come you don’t….”

“Fall apart in the air?” LOL

“Well, to be blunt, yes. Why don’t you?”

“Because we make sure we are always below maneuvering speed. That way the plane will stall (for you non pilots, the wing just kinda stops “flying” before the load would make it break) before it reaches its design limit. You have to know the exact limits of your plane; and stay below maneuvering speed when in turbulence. It is a rough ride, and scary, but you get used to it.”

So, what does this have to do with yesterday’s dreaming blog? Simply this; they do the impossible everyday, by just sticking to what works. They plan first, and the stay aware of small changes, and they adjust (pardon the pun) on the fly. If that isn’t a great plan to make a dream come true…I mean, think about it for a second.

You start with the end in mind. Then you plan on how to get there , from here. You use every thing you have, and try and make it happen. You stay alert for changes or unknowns, and you adjust – with the end in mind- to stay on course. That is how you make a dream come true. These people do the impossible for a living- he said that they have flown through every storm since that Hurricane Hunter group was formed. (He gave me their squadron name, but I didn’t write it down. I am sure if you google “hurricane hunters, Air Force- it will come up, and you can get their complete history and biography)

One of the things he said is this:

“We are all afraid before we go out. It doesn’t matter if you have ten storms under your belt. It gets hairy in there. But YOU DO YOUR JOB. I once saw a newby weather girl- it was her first storm hunting mission. She was laughing and joking until we hit the first band of weather (Hurricanes are basically bands of thunderstorms closing in on a complete circle) and she went white. When we hit the next band – they get worse as you get towards the eye- she was crying. But, she stood up and put the dropsondes in their tubes, and sent them out on the weather/navigator’s mark. Never missed a one. She has now flown through more than a dozen hurricanes, still fights her fear, but doesn’t cry anymore.

Another time, we had a crew member who was so scared, he couldn’t even talk, but he kept recording data- and when we did hear him, he was praying! He would occasionally scream out loud. We nicknamed him : “Chirp.” But, he shows up for every single mission, including three giant storms where the eye was only five or ten miles wide. (Storms that are really strong, have smaller eyes, because the circle is smaller. Just like when an ice skater moves their arms in and spin like mad!)

What is a dream, other than what seems impossible to you, at where you are at in this moment of time? How you get there is the same method the Hurricane Hunters use: They listen only to people that know what they are talking about. They gather as much information as they can. The do all the small things right. They adjust as things change- but always keep the target in mind. If it is too much, they change course; but still with the end in mind. They do their job- in spite of the lack of time, the conditions, or any excuses they can come up with. Then of course, they get “lucky” and come back safe.

Just like that young videographer’s friend; who used every spare moment to plan, write, then shoot footage; and then had to edit and add music- after working full time, and going to school full time – for FOUR YEARS, he became a “lucky overnight success.” Oh yes, dreams take work- just don’t let the work steal your dream.

Kevin the dream hunter

 

Thought to a friend…..

Aloha Bruce of the speaking with Shrinks,

I finally have a few moments to write you about some of the things you have brought up in your last several e-mails. You know Bruce, one of the reasons I don’t believe in reincarnation is implied in several of your letters; if we were here before, we certainly could’ve lived this life better.

Knowing what I know now, I would be a better human being in almost every measurable aspect. I would not let people stop me with their opinions of who I might, or should, or could be; including people who love me and have the best of intentions. I would’ve been kinder, more loving, more generous, more adventurous, and more serious; At the right times.

That is one of the subtle lessons I’ve learned–one of the things the Bible got right: for everything there is a season. There are times when being “quiet” is good–sometimes not saying anything is the best course of action. Other times, you should say something–and oftentimes that is when we don’t. I am rereading: “ Profiles in Courage,” by John Kennedy. I have not read that book in 40 years.

It starts out with Daniel Webster trying to forgo, or forestall, the civil war he saw coming more than 10 years before it happened. He was trying to find a way to placate slaveowners, yet not allow any more people to own them–that is a tricky line to walk. Yet, because of his efforts–it took another decade before the war actually broke out. He did his best.

On a more mundane level; I would not have restricted my adventures with the other sex to just love. I would’ve embraced–literally–many more women, with the physicality just being part of our friendship–not burdened with the guilt and shame of desiring somebody I didn’t love. Love and sex are two different things–and you can have sex with friends, you can even have it with strangers.

I was always taught that it was empty without love–that’s not true. It is just like playing a game of pickup basketball–there’s no trophy, there’s no ranking, there’s really no reason to play–other than the joy of playing. Sex, with a healthy person, is probably just like that. Not really a sport, but fun to do, fun to practice, and fun to get better at. As long as you don’t unwittingly bring a baby in the world, or transmit a disease– it is just good healthy fun. If you love somebody, it moves up a notch–and that is when you consider bringing a baby in the world; as a product of two loves–not two needs. It is almost impossible not to want to hold someone you really love, or even deeply like. Hugs are natural with folks you care about. Sex is just the closest hug you can have. LOL

I love to hold hands, and always have. With certain people in my life, sliding my hand into theirs is almost an unconscious act. It just happens. Same with hugging certain folks. Some folks just kind of melt into your arms, and snuggle there. It feels good, and safe; and usually, sex is not involved at all. Just the warmth of being held, being wanted, and feeling safe is enough. I think hugging someone, with a genuine hug, is much more satisfying than sex; in certain situations. Being held; without having a hold on them – is coming together as equals. Being held by someone you love; may be the greatest comfort there is. Being held by someone who is a dear friend, is a close second, and being held by someone who cares is up there too. I would have hugged more.

I would’ve mastered something earlier in my life–and then become a generalist. Instead of running my whole life as a generalist; I mean that both physically, and mentally. I would’ve gotten a PhD–and then explored the rest of the world of knowledge. It is much more difficult doing it this way; the other way around. I can’t even get people to let me try for a PH.D for crying out loud. Forcing me to teach myself– at that very point in my life where I am able to learn from others. How’s that for irony?

You raised a very interesting question when you talked to your friend who’s the psychiatrist. How do you know who the authentic you is? We are shaped by our culture, our loved ones, and our experiences–and those are all shaped by our genetic predisposition; how in that morass of interconnected and complex interactions–do we settle on a specific “me”?

Who put the “who” in me?

The majority of us are average–including me; hence the word: average. Yet all of us have unique gifts, or combination of gifts that separate us from the average. Sometimes in one way, sometimes in other ways. When it is all said and done, at the end of your life–how close you got to your authentic self–is probably the true legacy that you leave. When old Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that famous line: “… Most men live lives of quiet desperation.” He caught most of us.

I still don’t know what the meaning of life is. Not in a general sense, and not even in the specific sense. Why am I here? What is my purpose? Why am I needed? I don’t have any of those answers except in relation to relationships. I know who needs me– in certain situations; not really why–because to know why, I would have to ask them. LOL

I do know that loving, forgiving, creating, are the truly higher aspects of human beings. Perhaps those are even the driving forces of becoming fully human–because if you can create, especially love–you make the world a better place. If you can forgive, you allow tolerance to ferment, grow, and become stronger. And if you can create–well, you open minds, cultures, societies, and the future. The high road for mankind.

I think some of us get there, at least for a moment, and sometimes we get there only with a few people–and not everybody. The people who actually get there, and stay there, so it becomes who they are… Well, I think those are the people we remember for millennia.

Okay, I tried to reply with as much meat as you put in your messages; and this is as close as I could get. Enjoy your day, and thanks for your thoughtful e-mails–I always appreciate them.

Smiles, Kevin