Thom on May 27th, 2015

We’re used to birds around our yard. We encourage it. We put up several bird feeders next to our deck, after all. We hang up a new bird house each year after completing one with our cub scouts. And every year those bird houses have been occupied. We had a family of robins at our previous house who nested every year in our lilac bush. But this year brought us something new we’ve not encountered before.

My wife went to clean out the leaves that had built up in a corner where our fence meets our house and found some odd looking rocks among the leaves. She soon realized they weren’t rocks, but quail eggs–five of them. She left them alone, and later on checked back to find they had not been abandoned.

Over the next several days the mother would be gone for periods of time, and every time we checked the nest there would be two more eggs than previously. I think we were up to eleven before the mother stopped leaving the nest so we could sneak in and count.

So now we’re providing a maternity ward for future fuzzballs. We have a group of quail or two in our neighborhood, and each year they suddenly show up with chicks in tow, not much bigger than my thumb. They’re the cutest little things. And this year we’ll know where they came from.

Quail2For the next three weeks, however, we are trying not to disturb the mother. This is not easy, considering she’s nested not far from our garbage bins. We worry about her–that’s a rather exposed location, and she’s nested on the ground. There haven’t been stray cats around for a while now, but that doesn’t mean there’s no danger. But we can’t think of anything we can do to add protection that wouldn’t either make things potentially worse for her or frighten her too much while we put it up.

So for now we wait, we worry, and we keep our eyes open. Good luck, little quail mama!

If we’re able to get pictures of the chicks we’ll post them. But until then, this is what they’re supposed to look like:

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Thom on May 26th, 2015

This book was a loan from my brother.  We sometimes have different tastes in novels, but this was a case where we both agree. “Magic Touch,” by Jodi Lynn Nye, is a fun book–not earth-shatteringly profound or deep and intense, but fun. And, considering that it was written back in the 1990’s, it may be one of the forerunners of the modern “urban fantasy” trend.

The premise is that magic is real, and that not only are there fairy godparents, tooth fairies, guardian angels, and the like, but they’re organized and unionized. Ray, a young, urban black just out of high school, is at a critical point in his life. He wants to go to college, but lacks the grades. He’s got a decent job, but his best friend is being pulled into the local gang who are out to recruit him as well. But his grandmother, who largely raised him, sends him to a meeting of a group that does community service.

The “group” turns out to be the Fairy Godparents Union, local 326. Out of respect to his grandmother Ray hears them out and allows himself to be apprenticed to Rose Feinstein, a scrappy elderly lady and long-time fairy godmother. Ray comes to find it’s all true, that there is magic, and there are fairy godparents who take on the duty of granting one wish for every child. He finds he not only enjoys granting wishes (though it’s not as easy as you’d think), but that he’s pretty good at it. Under Rose’s tutelage he becomes an enthusiastic apprentice.

But the local  Demons, Djinni and Efreets Guild wants to merge with the FGU, and for a sinister purpose. A local group of Genies wants the godparents’ powers in order to release themselves from their involuntary servitude, and they’ll stop at nothing, including recruiting local street gangs, to get their way. Ray soon finds himself in dire circumstances when FGU members begin disappearing.

The book is certainly a product of its time (CD players and in-line skates are the rage), and in more ways than one. There is no moral ambiguity in this book. Ray is a good kid trying to stay on the right path, and the bad guys are…well, bad guys. That said, I find Nye’s exploration of rules and restrictions and free will quite interesting. The FGU has rules they need to follow, though they’re largely self-imposed. Ray comes to learn that the rules have purpose, and that they are as much to help him as to restrict him.

And Ray is a good character. I truly liked him. I felt the conflicts in his life. I don’t know if Nye’s depiction of Chicago inner-city life is accurate or not, but I suspect it provides at least a partial glimpse of the challenges faced by those growing up in neighborhoods like Ray’s. Accurate or not, it’s a different life experience, which is usually a good thing to engage with.

The merging of the fantastical with the mundane is well done, I felt. Nye treats it with enough seriousness that we don’t feel the need to question too much, and treats her world and plot quite seriously while resisting the urge to descend into the gritty. It may not be the type of story everyone wants to read, but it worked for me. All magic aside, at the core of this story is good people trying to do the best they can. And those are stories that resonate with me.

Thom on May 25th, 2015

Today is the day we remember those we cannot thank, for the sacrifice we can never repay, for the freedoms we likely don’t truly appreciate. May we each do our part to keep America an ideal worthy of such sacrifice.

Thom on May 23rd, 2015

You’ve probably seen the several Lord of the Rings and Hobbit themed flight safety videos from Air New Zealand. Well, Delta decided to have a go of their own with an Internet Meme theme video. How many memes do YOU recognize?

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Thom on May 22nd, 2015

One of the most consistent sources of happiness I’ve found in life is from helping others. But I have to admit that in this situation I’d feel a lot like many of the other gentlemen did. But I hope that in time I’d reach the same place they did as well. This video is produced by my church, but examines something fundamental to the human experience: when we reach out to help others “it’s easier to find ourselves because there’s so much more of us to find.”


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Thom on May 21st, 2015

Every so often I’ll come across a link to an article from The Art of Manliness website. I’m not quite sure what to make of the site, frankly. It seems to be dedicated to restoring the lost art of manliness from bygone eras. In some ways it reminds me of that Original Star Trek episode “A Piece of the Action” where a starship visiting an alien planet leaves behind a book about the gangsters of the 1920’s only to have the culture rebuild their society around Chicago’s mafia era. I can’t quite decide if the site is sincerely dedicated to creating “real men” (or if I agree with them on what a “real” man is) or if they’re just marketing to men who like to think of themselves as real men, or who are looking to escape from or even push back against the dehumanizing tactics of Feminism.

But they do have interesting articles, and as often as not they’re applicable to anyone, not just men. For example the article that led me there today: 10 Overlooked Truths About Taking Action.

In this speech from Steven Pressfield’s gripping, well-researched re-telling of the Battle of Thermopylae (Gates of Fire), the Spartan King Leonidas addresses his troops after a victory. He is reflecting on the fact that when you do battle in chaos, Lady Fortuna and skill have an equal say in the outcome. Pressfield explains this dynamic in his equally worthwhile non-fiction work, The Warrior Ethos:

“In the era before gunpowder, all killing was of necessity done hand to hand. For a Greek or Roman warrior to slay his enemy, he had to get so close that there was an equal chance that the enemy’s sword or spear would kill him. This produced an ideal of manly virtueandreia, in Greek – that prized valor and honor as highly as victory.

Andreia meant that judgment was based on actions taken — not outcomes. Society understood that the outcome was, at least in part, in the hands of the gods. What was in a man’s control was how he acted.

We tend to mix this up. There is an army of authors studying “successful” people and writing lists of 5, 7, 10, or 20 things that they did to become successful. All you have to do is emulate the list and you, too, can be successful.

That’s like looking at the living Spartan soldiers and explaining why they survived. Leonidas would laugh at their idiotic arrogance.

We have become so focused on results that our actions have become a secondary concern. We judge men based on what they have instead of what they do. We signal our ideals instead of embracing them.

The writer goes on to discuss examples like the Wright brothers, who continually experimented, tweaked their design, and retested, as opposed to the better-funded corporations of the time who went back to the drawing board, rethought everything, and tried to ancitipate everything before moving forward. The corporations fell victim to their lack of action while the Wright Brothers succeeded and got all the glory.

There are numerous other examples of the advantages of action. It’s a long article, but worth a read. But again, there’s nothing uniquely male about this article. It’s universally applicable. Whether she’s conscious of it or not, my daughter embodies much of the outlined approach. She doesn’t wait around for someone to tell her if she can or should learn a particular skill, she starts learning as much as she can with the resources at her disposal. When she encounters a barrier she seeks help. But she acts.

I’m not quite as fearless, but many of the successes I’ve seen in life have come from taking some measure of action before just deciding something can’t be done, only to find out that it can, indeed, be done so long as you take it in steps.

Anyway, it’s an interesting article.

While I was there another article caught my attention on “How to Develop the Situational Awareness of Jason Bourne.

That superhuman ability to observe his surroundings and make detailed assessments about his environment? It’s not just a trait of top secret operatives; it’s a skill known as situational awareness, and you can possess it too.

As the names implies, situational awareness is simply knowing what’s going on around you. It sounds easy in principle, but in reality requires much practice. And while it is taught to soldiers, law enforcement officers, and yes, government-trained assassins, it’s an important skill for civilians to learn as well. In a dangerous situation, being aware of a threat even seconds before everyone else can keep you and your loved ones safe.

But it’s also a skill that can and should be developed for reasons outside of personal defense and safety. Situational awareness is really just another word for mindfulness, and developing mine has made me more cognizant of what’s going on around me and more present in my daily activities, which in turn has helped me make better decisions in all aspects of my life.

Also an interesting read. I spend much of my day pretty much confined to the inside of my head. My situational awareness is quite low. In some cases it’s a coping mechanism. I could easily become distracted if I allowed myself to be continually aware, and in my line of work as a knowledge worker it’s just not productive. But in other careers, such as a store clerk or a photographer or a taxi driver, situational awareness could give you a competitive edge.

But again, this has nothing to do with being manly or womanly. It’s simply a good idea, especially in personal defense.

Anyway, here’s a little interesting reading if you’re…uh…interested.

Thom on May 20th, 2015

There’s an old story, perhaps authentically native American, about a young brave on a quest to prove himself who climbed to the top of a tall mountain. As he sat there enjoying the view for a moment he heard a voice calling to him. He turned to find a rattlesnake laying there, cold and weak.

“Please,” the snake said, “when you leave this mountain please take me with you. It is so cold up here that I can barely move, and there is no food to be found even if I could catch it.”

“I won’t come near you,” the brave said. “You are a rattlesnake, and you hate my people. If I come too close you will bite me, and I will die.”

“Not so,” said the snake. “I am so weak with cold I can’t even resist. I will die if you don’t help me. I would be forever grateful if you would help me, and I wouldn’t harm you.”

The brave resisted, but the snake pleaded and pleaded, promising everything would be okay if he just helped him down off the mountain. Finally the brave relented and agreed to carry the snake down to the bottom of the mountain.

“Please, put me inside your shirt where I will be safe and warm,” the snake said. The brave hesitated, but finally picked up the snake and put it inside his shirt, then began the difficult climb back down the mountain. Finally he reached the bottom.

“We are here now,” he told the snake. “I will take you out now, and we may part company.” As he put his hand inside his shirt to take out the snake the rattlesnake bit him on the hand.

As the poison coursed through the brave’s body he cried out in shock and betrayal, “But why? I helped you!”

“I am a rattlesnake,” the snake replied as he slithered free. “You knew what I was when you picked me up.”

I am reminded of this story when I read about the backlash over the recent “Game of Thrones” episodes and its reported rape scene that has finally moved some fans to swear off the show. Are they seriously surprised? They knew what it was when they picked it up, or at least by not long afterward. To have come this far and still be surprised at what depths such a show will sink to makes me wonder if they were really paying attention. And just where is the line is that made all the previous rape scenes acceptable and this one not? In the light of the prevalent public discourse on sexual assault, this apparent stance seems particularly clueless.

I don’t watch the series, never seen an episode. I don’t watch much TV at all any more. And from what I’ve heard of the series I would never want to watch the series or read the books. Why would I want to escape an unpleasant world by signing up for a completely brutal one where good not only doesn’t triumph but gets you killed early in the story? It seems pretty obvious to me what this series is. No matter what it may promise, I see nothing to compel me to pick it up.

This is a cable television series based on a brutal book series. And from what I understand they even go farther than the books do in their brutality. Why would anyone be surprised five seasons in to find that there is yet another scene of sexual assault? Why would this one suddenly be too much to take? You didn’t see this coming?

This is a cable series. Cable is already not bound by any formal standards, and series live and die on their willingness to push the boundaries of what their audiences will accept. The most successful shows are the ones that push the edge continually. So are people seriously surprised that Game of Thrones is going to keep getting nastier and nastier? The showrunners and the apologists can hide all they want behind “artistic integrity”, “message”, “setting”, etc., but it still comes down to making sure they’re talked about around the watercooler the next day, and that means they continually have to deliver more, to break new ground, to keep the same old brutality from becoming the same old same old.

So does it mean that I’m some sort of exceptionally bright, perceptive–even prescient–person now because I’ve known to avoid the show in the first place? Sen. Claire McCaskill claims to have been surprised by how far the series is willing to go, and has now decided to discontinue watching. Does this mean that I’m brighter and more perceptive than a US Senator? We’ll have to assume that, because if I’m only average it doesn’t speak well of her. Seriously, Senator, you had no idea what type of show this was, or you didn’t think the show would ever go there? It’s already gone there on multiple occasions. I’m not sure what made this scene so special–and I don’t want to know, thank you, please don’t enlighten me–but surely you weren’t surprised.

You knew what it was when you picked it up.

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Thom on May 19th, 2015

My daughter is becoming quite the artist. I can’t take much credit for that. I’ve never been good at art. I’ve never been motivated to be good at art. She, on the other hand, is motivated. While she enjoyed her initial art class in middle school, she already knew much of what they had to offer because she’d been practicing and learning on her own. She’ll check out books on art from the library and get ideas to try out until she can figure the techniques out. She’ll be taking more advanced art classes when she gets to high school next year, and I hope they don’t slow her down.

But her mother and I can perhaps take a little credit for a few things. Her mother did practice drawing at least some in younger days and regularly produces stylized drawings for cards, invitations, etc. And I was willing to give it a try when my kids started asking me to draw pictures for them. Drawing on my limited technique I did my best, and though I could never get things to come out right, they were recognizable at least.

Between those two things I think some seeds were planted in our kids. Nothing major, just “art is possible,” and “you don’t know if you don’t try.” Emma was fertile soil, it seems. At some point I was asked to give her an art lesson. I taught her everything I knew about two-point perspective. It wasn’t much, but she got excited about it. We saw this and paid for some art lessons for her–which proved to be little more than the teacher sitting in the room next to her as she did her own drawings with hardly any actual guidance or training from the teacher.

Undaunted, though, Emma took it from there. We’ve encouraged her with feedback and supplies, but she’s done nearly all of it herself. She’s even been motivated enough to spend some of her own savings to get drawing software and a pen tablet. For some time now she’s been flirting with the idea of creating a webcomic and has begun a few short-lived efforts in the past. Now with summer vacation coming up she’s gearing up (some pun intended) to give it another go, this time on a website that hosts webcomics and also gives her some control over the design of her own pages (she’s also into web design and has already surpassed what I used to be able to do before WordPress came along).

Anyway, for a sneak peek at what she’s been up to, check out Geared Up, under her pen-name (pencil-name?), Cara Knight.

I wish I could say she’s a chip off the old block, but I’ll settle for being a launchpad. Not just for her, but all my kids. They’re each scary-smart in their own way, and one of the greatest pleasures in my life is helping them explore and unlock their potential. And if one (or all) of them strikes it mega-rich and want to buy their parents a nice house on enough land to set up an animal sanctuary I won’t say no.

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Thom on May 18th, 2015

Note: If you find yourself bothered by overt religion you may want to skip this post.

One of my biggest weaknesses is my tendency to absorb negative emotion. I don’t like people being upset with me. I don’t like people being upset near me. Too much exposure to negativity tends to make me negative. On a conscious level I know I shouldn’t let other people dictate my moods. I don’t have to take the emotions of others personally. I know this.

Stopping it is another matter entirely. And yet it’s becoming increasingly clear that if I’m ever to find peace in an increasingly negative and disturbing world I’m going to have to learn to shut out the world enough to be able to view it and acknowledge it without internalizing it.

This internal struggles is encapsulated in one of my favorite hymns in my church’s hymnal–I don’t know if it’s unique to my church of if others have this one. I hope they do.

1. Where can I turn for peace?
Where is my solace
When other sources cease to make me whole?
When with a wounded heart, anger, or malice,
I draw myself apart,
Searching my soul?

2. Where, when my aching grows,
Where, when I languish,
Where, in my need to know, where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand?
He, only One.

3. He answers privately,
Reaches my reaching
In my Gethsemane, Savior and Friend.
Gentle the peace he finds for my beseeching.
Constant he is and kind,
Love without end.

I wish I could say this is a favorite because the last verse captures how it feels to me to be continually wrapped in the Savior’s love. But in truth I relate more to the first two verses, as they describe well the commotion of my internal battles. I’ve felt the Savior’s love on many occasions, but it’s far too often the exception, not the rule.

And it’s my fault. I acknowledge that. I’m not committed enough to building a relationship with my savior. I want the results without the requisite effort. And when I do put in the effort it’s too often just going through the motions. But something is changing. I’m not sure what, but I’m starting to want something different. I can’t continue to live like this, because the world is only going to get worse. I don’t want to live continually in fear.

I’m an instructor for one of the men’s groups in my church. Once a month it’s my turn to teach a gospel lesson. It was my turn on Mother’s Day, and the assigned topic was “The Power of the Word.” In my lesson we discussed how regular, focused study of the word of God in all its forms helps us “resist evil, hold fast to the good, and find joy in this life”. It was a self-fulfilling lesson, in that in studying the material over the preceding week and preparing to teach it amounted to extensive, focused study of the word of God. And by Sunday I was feeling better in general than I had in weeks, perhaps even months. As I sat and listened during the main service (our church meets for three hours, broken up into the main service and two instructional periods) I found myself feeling at peace. I felt myself thinking kind thoughts about everyone in the congregation (usually I manage only to feel neutral).

That feeling lasted all day. I liked it, and I wanted to go on feeling it. So I did more than I usually do during this past week to try and continue feeling it. I can’t say I completely succeeded, or that I didn’t have some less-than-proud moments through the week. But I did feel a general improvement as I tried to spend more time with the word of God.

Then we came around to yesterday, another Sunday. One of the assignments we have in my church is to be a “home teacher”. This means that two of us are assigned as a partnership to be responsible for a number of families and individuals in our congregation. We are to visit them at least once a month, see how they are doing, pray with them, and give them a spiritual message. It was my turn to provide the message, so I was looking through the transcripts of all the addresses given in our church’s General Conference in April.

One particular talk stood out to me. I’d heard it back in April and been somewhat impressed, and I’d listened to the recording of it during the previous week and again liked it. But this time, reading through it, it impacted with greater force than it had previously. One particular passage stood out:

The peace Christ gives allows us to view mortality through the precious perspective of eternity and supplies a spiritual settledness (see Colossians 1:23) that helps us maintain a consistent focus on our heavenly destination. Thus, we can be blessed to hush our fears because His doctrine provides purpose and direction in all aspects of our lives. His ordinances and covenants fortify and comfort in times both good and bad. And His priesthood authority gives assurance that the things that matter most can endure both in time and in eternity.

But can we hush the fears that so easily and frequently beset us in our contemporary world? The answer to this question is an unequivocal yes.

This promise came from one of the top leaders of my church, and someone I feel exemplifies that peace and confidence in Christ. I’m inclined to believe him. But in this case I was also ready to believe him and, more importantly, act. He also had this to say:

Trust and confidence in Christ and a ready reliance on His merits, mercy, and grace lead to hope, through His Atonement, in the Resurrection and eternal life (see Moroni 7:41). Such faith and hope invite into our lives the sweet peace of conscience for which we all yearn. The power of the Atonement makes repentance possible and quells the despair caused by sin; it also strengthens us to see, do, and become good in ways that we could never recognize or accomplish with our limited mortal capacity. Truly, one of the great blessings of devoted discipleship is “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). [Emphasis mine]

I want that. And for the rest of the day I felt that. It’s not surprising to feel the whisperings of the Spirit, especially at our church services–that’s one of the reasons we go, after all–but the intensity and duration was unusual. It was a very good day.

I’m not telling you this to imply that I’m a particularly advanced spiritual being or anything. Unfortunately, knowing me, I’ll have forgotten this within a couple of weeks and be back where I started. The natural man in me is all too susceptible to entropy. I’m telling this because it’s something I’ve found that works. Most every lasting, successful change in my nature has come through the aid of the Savior in response to sincere, focused faith and appeals on my part.

This morning I began the day with my usual perusal of world news and commentary. This is usually a discouraging, even depressing proposition. Today was no exception, though markedly less. I recognized the signs that I was internalizing some of the negativity and turned my thoughts back to the events and lessons of yesterday. The beginnings of internal turmoil went away and the peace returned. When people at work began bombarding me with questions and requests this morning I didn’t feel the usual stress levels rising.

This is why I continue to believe: I find my religion works as advertized.

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Thom on May 15th, 2015

Every so often I end up listening to Five For Fighting’s “100 Years”–really listening, not just putting it on as background music. That’s usually a dangerous prospect; John Ondrasik manages to cram a lifetime in a few minutes and powerfully depicts just how quickly life seems to fly by. The song seems to trigger a little anxiety attack–more of an “anxiety ache”, really–at the prospect that life is flying by and I’ve got so little to show for it. But then I never expected to be king of the world by now or anything. I never had dreams of being the next Napoleon, Carnegie, Gates, Washington, Ghandi or Mandela. Daydreams, perhaps, but never serious desires.

Oh, I’ve certainly hoped from time to time I’d be a little more known, a little more influential than I am. And perhaps I thought by this point in my life I’d have it all together, have at least most of the answers, and perhaps maybe even feel my age rather than the timid, eager teenager peering out from inside an increasingly aging body I continue to feel like. Instead I push on through life waiting to be exposed for the fraud that I am, the not-so-great-Oz behind the curtain.

But really, truth be told, when I really was a teenager, looking unsteadily into the future, I don’t recall having any grand vision of where I’d be in twenty-five years’ time. What little I saw of the future looked a lot like…well, what I’ve got now. A wife, kids, a house, a yard, a job, enough money to have a little fun from time to time. In many ways my life has exceeded my vision–the Finnish wife was a real surprise–and proven much more interesting than anything I might have planned back then.

So why does “100 Years” hit me so hard? Are there regrets for what might have been? Regrets over what has been? Of course there are. I’ve made my share of mistakes (and then some, being the greedy gus that I am), and I wouldn’t mind at least a handful of handfuls of do-overs. But invariably whenever I do trace life backward to identify that one thing I could change that would make everything just wonderful I come up empty. Too much is interconnected; remove this and somehow that also goes away with it. Too many things I might consider changing would end up wiping out so much that’s good in my life. And so I’ve learned to accept that my life is my life, the good, the bad, and the ugly. The past is past, and all I can choose now is the direction the future may take.

And even there experience has taught me that we only have so much control over the trajectory our lives will take–as often as not it’s what happens to us as where we choose to go.

So what’s my problem? Perhaps “accepting” does not equate to “at peace with.” Perhaps it really is the realization that I have so little influence in this world, and I’m not even doing as much as I should with that. Maybe it’s the realization that I’m still not the person I’d like to be, and that maybe even a hundred years won’t be enough to get there.

Sometimes I think life would be easier if I could be an unbeliever, that I could just accept that this is it and then we’re just so many disintegrating molecules. Perhaps that would take a lot of the pressure off if I could believe that what I get is what I get, and then it doesn’t matter. But no, I believe that, while transitory, this life has a broader purpose. And while you only take yourself with you when the time is up, you also take the sum of everyone you’ve influenced for bad or for good. My scorecard there is…well, not what I’d like it to be.

Even though I believe in a loving, just God who provided grace to cover my insufficiencies, I’m still frustrated by the gap between who I want to be and who I too often am. And the clock is ticking. I’ve only got a hundred years–less than that. I’ll only have my kids under my wing for another ten or so. I don’t think that will be enough time to undo the damage I’ve done from still trying to get my own act together while being responsible for helping them with theirs.

I suppose that’s the real message of the song: we only really have this current moment, and only so many current moments left to live. And that’s the pain behind the song. So many moments are passing by without me having lived them to the fullest, without my having using them as well as I could. And at the same time, that’s the hope behind the song, too. We don’t know how many more moments we have, but we do have them.

And that’s the hope provided by my Savior. He knows the pile of broken moments behind me can never be re-made. But they are transitory–they were meant to be transitory. He’s got it covered. Move on. Don’t waste time worrying about what’s behind. Worry about what lies ahead–not about getting it right, but getting it better. It’s not about the broken moments–there are always going to be more broken ones–but the ones you get right. It’s about changing your heart to be more like His. It’s not so much where we are when the time runs out, but which direction we are heading. It’s not about who we were, but who we are, and who we are still fighting to be.

I’m 45 for a moment
The sea is high
And I’m heading into a crisis
Chasing the years of my life

I suppose the only real “crisis” is the realization that there is only so much time left. There is so much one can do with each moment that is given you. There will be broken moments, to be sure. Some we will just completely, undeniably mess up. But the rest aren’t so clear. Was that the best thing I could have done with that moment? Was there something better I could have done?

In many ways life might be like baseball–or more like batting practice. In a hundred years we might see 52,560,000 “pitches”. We might start out hitting two or three out of every hundred. Some might decide it’s not worth the trouble and walk away. Some might decide to just stand there and watch pitches go by, waiting for the perfect pitch they can knock out of the park. But hopefully we stay in there, keep taking pitches, and learning while we go.

Perhaps we get to where we’re hitting 34 out of every hundred–excellent by pro baseball standards. But they’re mostly grounders and fouls with the occasional line-drive out of the infield. But we press on. Perhaps we get to where we’re only hitting about 24 percent, but they’re good, solid hits, the majority into the outfield. Or maybe we extend our grounders-and-fouls up to 44 percent.

That’s what I think it ultimately comes down to–not do we still miss the ball, but how well and how often we hit. Are we improving? Or did we decide to go sit in the dugout. We can sit there and dwell on how lousy we’ve been, or we can work harder at getting better than we were. Yes, it can be a little unnerving to watch the supply of baseballs dwindling, but that’s not what we should dwell on, either. It still comes down to the very next pitch and what we do with it. One pitch at a time–that’s how we build our record, our legacy.

I’m 45 for a moment. But hopefully I’m better at 45 than I was at 44. Just a moment and I’ll tell you.


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