BLAZING A NEW TRAIL

There are different ways to get places, but when I was a kid, it was predominantly the shoe leather express, minus the leather. It was rubber and canvas tennis shoes in those days.

Even with only legs and feet to carry us, we still had different routes to choose to get to school. We never took the long way, the civilized routes cluttered with sidewalks and crosswalks.

We took short cuts. Even if it meant having to go by ol’ man Hatchet’s house. Word was, he hacked up kids with his Hatchet… but he’d have to catch us first.

The well-worn path through thickets, bamboo, gnarly trees, and golden weeds eventually dumped us out close to the elementary school.

The problem with trails is that they’re not always the most direct route. Plus, if they’re there it means they were blazed by someone else.

Davy and I used our tennis shoes like road graders; shuffling, kicking, filling our socks with stickers. It took time, kicking up dust every day, arriving at school just in time and filthy, but eventually we had our own trail, dangerously close to ol’ man Hatchet’s, but trailblazers can’t be faint of heart… or have clean shoes and socks.

Sometimes in life, we don’t set out to blaze trails. The stars align or Divine intervention arranges our meeting with destiny. Sometimes it’s a wooded field, sometimes it’s a business, a mission field, or even a blank piece of paper.

Blazing a new trail has a couple of benefits; one is the gratification that comes from the grueling process. The other is the advantage it brings to others, folks that gain from our endeavor.

I guess it was my mom that passed on her love of books to me. Maybe part of it was all the reading they made me do when I was a kid trying to help me overcome my speech impediment. Either way, I didn’t come to the place where a new path begins by myself.

Long before she could talk, my youngest sat on my lap as I read her books, pointing at pictures and words. She’d look up at me, wide-eyed in wonder, smitten with the magic of words.

Her second assignment in her college writing class was to write about a place. She picked an arcade, but not just any arcade, she wrote about “our” arcade. The place she and I spent countless hours, tokens, and laughs.

My daughter poured out her heart and soul, using the assignment as partial therapy to cope with being away from home… and a dad she sorely missed, but maybe not as much as he does her. She wrote it for me too.

My daughter’s writing, even being objective, is beyond her years.

I’m blazing a new trail, learning the business of writing from the dark side that not many people see. Whether I end up being published traditionally or not, I’ve been gratified by the hard work.

I know now the trail isn’t for me… it’s for the more talented one that shares some of my passion for writing… and blood.
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I CUSSED

I cussed last week. Which made me even more frustrated at the failing of my frail flesh. It wasn’t out loud, but it was cussing that I kept inside my mind, letting the poison do its work.

I don’t lose the battle with my flesh near as much as I used to, but I got my clock cleaned last week.

I realize that it gets easier to live above the flesh as we get older. One of the biggest factors is age itself.

Another reason to leave the jumping to conclusions and flying off the handle to the younger generations is that we’ve figured out how much energy it takes… not to mention the fact that we’re already plum tuckered.

One of the other reasons that it gets easier to live above the failing flesh is the many gifts we tend to overlook.

I enjoy using my hands. I’ve used them to build a lot of things, but with the decades and evolution of business much has changed. The tools I used to use are different than the ones I use now. These days a computer and cell phone have replaced hammers and saws.

We all get to deal with frustrations, but physical ones seem to have a more immediate effect… which is why I cussed last week before I even knew it was on the tip of my mind.

Maybe it’s more instinct based on the bygone days when cussing and chewing tobacco were just part of the day… along with frustrations.

The crew wasn’t my regular one, good guys, just lacking experience. Especially for “seeing” my vision that the blueprints, for some things, exist only in my mind.

I cussed

The stringer is the center support piece.

The beam saw I used to cut the single glue laminated beam stringer that weighed around five hundred pounds is obsolete. They don’t make them anymore. Those saws lopped off too many fingers, hands, and arms. Yeah, the massive and jagged blade is bigger than a commercial table saw… set in a handheld gigantic cartoon sized handsaw.

After a couple of days of holding the gargantuan saw, focusing on not letting it cut any of my body parts off, my energy and patience were gone like the good ol’ days.

Splinters in the hands, sawdust in the eyes, and ears, blisters, and sweat rolling into my eyes. Back aching from bending over with the widow maker in my hands, I was a man on the edge.

It must have been the thousandth trip over a block of wood that broke the camel’s back. #&*%@!!!, I yelled to myself in my mind, spittin’ sawdust out of my mouth to no avail, giving in and just swallowing it.

We get into our comfortable worlds that are really the gifts from God and we forget the difficulties that others live with daily.

I need to count my gifts and be more understanding when I judge or give advice because I’m no better than anyone else. Just forgiven… even though I cussed last week.

THE INVISIBLE MAN

The invisible man died… and I didn’t even know his name. A couple of smart bottoms I told about the invisible man’s passing didn’t quite get it.

They wore the expressions of sarcasm and asked me how I would even know if the invisible man died for sure. I, in turn, flashed them my unamused expression and explained that he wasn’t really invisible – the title was just a nickname for a guy that touched so many people’s lives. I’ll bet including yours, and yet nobody knew him and his sightings were almost as rare as Big Foot’s.

His name was Rod Temperton and it’s likely that his music has crossed the path of your ears more than once in your lifetime.

the invisible man

(Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)
from boom box.com

I don’t think I ever attended a wedding during the 80’s and 90’s and didn’t’ hear, “Always and Forever”, written and composed by the invisible man when he was part of the group Heatwave.

The same could be said of his next song, except that this one is still being played at weddings pushing forty years later. I’d never have admitted to liking the song back when I was in high school. That’s the sorta thing that could’ve got a kid beat up in my blue collar hood, but I tapped my toes to it.

That song was Boogie Nights and it laid the foundation that the invisible man would use to become one of the most dominant songwriters of all time.

I guess if you are famous, or even an invisible member of the music industry this year; “The Year the Musicians Died”, your spine should be tingling with the presence of the grim reaper creeping up behind.

Rod Temperton was only sixty-six years old, but the cancer took him quickly. His estimated 125 million net worth couldn’t give him even one more precious day.

It didn’t matter that he was obviously a shy or humble man. He wrote a lot of songs for a lot of people. He had a God-given gift… and yet I have no idea if he knew that or God above.

The invisible man wrote “Master Jam” when Chaka Khan was singing lead, “Baby Come To Me” sung by Patti Austin and James Ingram, “Give Me the Night”, by George Benson, “Sweet Freedom” by Michael McDonald, and “Off the Wall, “Rock With You”, and “Thriller”, by Michael Jackson… and those are just the highlights.

The invisible man had an impressive resume… if he was applying to write songs and music, but resumes are for humans – other folks created like all of us and are passing – one day closer to our last with each one.

I have no idea of where the invisible man will spend eternity, but he’s living out his nickname now… along with a lot of other great musicians and songwriters that aren’t coming back in their flesh.

I love music and I admire talent, but the passing of the invisible man reminds me that how we’re measured by this world means zero.

SEVEN DAYS OF SOUL CARE

Seven days of soul care

Dolly’s new book!

Sometimes the days in the valley’s of our lives can turn out to be the best things for us… in the long run. All of us have had trials, difficult times, places along the path of life where we reached the pit mentally and physically then reached out to God for help.

None of us are too anxious to go back and relive the dark days of our lives. A lot of us don’t even want to think too long and hard on them due to the pain it reminds us of.

Then there are those that have lived through the tribulations and are willing to share what they’ve learned with others. Dolly M. Lee is one of those people.

In her new book, “Seven Days of Soul Care”, Dolly shares stories from her own life and her personal struggles with anxiety, depression, and PTSD, and how God’s grace and love transformed her… and still is.

I’ve read this book personally and I believe there’s something in it for everyone. Dolly’s genuine heart and caring nature come through in her honest writing.

One of Dolly’s goal is to raise enough money from the proceeds of this book to support and donate to the charity that she’s passionate about. The name of the charity is International Justice Mission, or IJM. Their mission is to stamp out the horrific business of human trafficking. I’d say that’s a worthy charity to support.

You can click the link here to support Dolly and her efforts to help all people really, especially the children. You can also click this one to catch up with Dolly at Soul Stops .com where she shares her heart and wisdom regularly.

Excellent work, sister.

RUBBING SHOULDERS

We were clipping along around twenty miles an hour, heading south on PCH, on our bicycles, almost rubbing shoulders with pedestrians on one side and cars on the other.

Some of the people swarming the sidewalks between us and the ocean I couldn’t see, but I could smell. The perfume of the woman in the tiny red economy car was so strong it almost knocked me over after she passed.

The guy with no shirt and hairy armpits wasn’t smoking a cigarette by the time we whizzed past him, but the stench of body odor mixed with stale cigarette smoke made my eyes burn. It’s tough to share air and rub elbows with some folks.

A few days later, back at home, my mind still pondering the subject of rubbing elbows and sharing air with others in our paths, I took the dreaded trip to the grocery store.

I’ve come to realize I pick lanes at the grocery store about as well as I do the ones while I’m driving…

Rubbing Shoulders

image courtesy of the flavored word .com

I used my God given reason and sense. The express lane only had two people in it. The senior man with the black glasses and over exposed bald head in the front of the line was almost done checking out… or so I thought.

The old fella was asking about his coupons clearly unaware or uncaring that he’d log jammed the express lane.

I spotted a middle aged gal a couple lanes down, that had moved from behind me, bagging her groceries… and I’m still one person back.

The closer I got to the automatic doors and freedom the final hurdle dawned on me; the checkout lady. She was in her sixties, bleached golden and bobbed hair, round cheeks. She sounded like she was trying to talk with her tongue sticking out.

When I finally got to the front of the line that would have tested a turtle’s patience, I realized that the checkout lady did have tongue issues. She had one, it just didn’t work. She’d had a stroke.

“Hhhhh – uuuu – ooo – ta – deh?” she asked in a friendly tone. My mind raced to catch up.

“Uh – Good. I”m good. How are you?” I asked.

“Guhh,” she smiled.

My anxiousness from being in the express line traffic jam quickly faded.

Mid check out, the cashier stopped, stuck her tongue out, and clumsily pinched around the edges of her tongue with her thumb and forefinger, searching for what I assume was a hair.

I didn’t say anything, but my eyebrows almost touched my receding hairline.

The cashier didn’t even wipe her fingers off. She grabbed my groceries with the same fingers and started pulling them across the scanner… That’s hard for a germaphobe to take…

A lot of us go out of our way to keep our world as germ free and medicinal as possible – I’m no exception.

The truth is we share this beautiful but fallen world with all kinds of folks. We worry about germs sometimes without a thought to the souls of the other we’re rubbing shoulders with.