Finding Floyd

MERMAID MAN

MERMAID MAN courtesy of Photobucket

My wife, our youngest, and myself while flying on a plane to visit family across the country got a bit bored.

I spotted an older gentleman sitting across the aisle from us. He was a distinguished looking man, probably in his mid to late seventies.

He sported close to a full head of silver hair and proudly wore it the same as he has since the 50’s or 60’s. Parted on the left side of his scalp, the mini-wave moving upward away from the part, cresting about three-quarters of the way toward the opposite side, and flattening as it reached the other side of his scalp.

Soon after take-off he dozed off. Slumped forward in his seat with his stomach and his seat belt keeping him in his chair.

As he slept I noticed he had a striking resemblance to a superhero named “Mermaid Man.”

For those readers who don’t have younger children might not recognize the name. He is a character from the “Sponge Bob Square Pants” cartoon. In this cartoon, Mermaid Man is an old retired superhero that lives in a retirement home with his lifelong sidekick “Barnacle Boy.”

Even though the super hero’s are over the hill the main character Sponge Bob, still respects and admires them.

As the flight wore on my daughter settled into her book, my wife started nodding off like the superhero across the aisle, and I picked up my pen and began to ponder on paper.

The man who would be our neighbor for over the next three hours had my attention. He most certainly was a dignified looking man, even at his age. Although I have no way of knowing for sure, he and his wife had the look of parents. Maybe they were flying to visit family as well.

My guess is his son or daughter at some point in their lives thought he was a real superhero. Maybe even more now than in the past. Perhaps he has more value now than ever before in his life.

At his age, he has had time to gain wisdom, to understand life and how fleeting it is. Because he understands this, he might be sacrificing his comfort flying across the country with us to spend some of that precious time with his family.

My physical peak is past me now as well, not as far past as Mermaid Man, but past none the less.

This day and Mermaid Man remind me of the analogy in the Bible of how a flower represents our life. It grows and blooms into its full designed form and beauty, then begins to fade, wither, and eventually die.

So it is with all of our lives. The purpose of our having been here might be a little like the flower as well. To bring joy into those looking upon our lives and enjoying and learning from our process of life.

As we grow the elders look upon our lives like the flower. Even though they’ve seen other flowers grow, they marvel at yet another. Each one is special and unique.

When we bloom into the physical climax of our lives, the elders stand proud, pleased in another beautiful life blooming. The younger lives see and admire the blossom as well, looking forward to their turn in the process of life.

Maybe the most important part of the process comes next. As we wither and lose the majesty or beauty once possessed in our process, what are we teaching and showing the younger ones following us?

Maybe some day I’ll look like Mermaid Man too? Mr. McGoo is more likely…

Never mind the dwindling blossom of what I once looked like, what have I learned now that I’m an over the hill superhero? I can’t leap buildings in a single bound anymore, so what value do I have?

My value starts by acknowledging the One who sent me, and the task or mission set before me. Although the acts of wisdom are physical, they are acts of teaching, caring and showing what grace received looks like. Wisdom is more easily understood this side of the blossom.

I bet if I would have followed Mermaid Man out of the airport, I would have got to see “The Boat Mobile”!

NEVER SAY NEVER

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When I was younger I said some pretty dumb things. Never mind just saying them, I would back them up with even more ignorant declarations.

Let me give you one simple example. I have a friend named Mike. My group of friends and even family like to tease a bit. (Actually a lot) Mike made a comment about me someday driving a specific type of car. We were judgemental as well as ignorant, but it falls under the same category.

My answer wasn’t a simple, “Nuh-Uh”! I had to give a very detailed declaration. “I’d rather crawl through the desert all the way to California, on my hands and knees, through broken glass, without water, dragging my tongue over the glass and hot pavement, than drive that type of car there”!!!

…My wife drives that type of car now…

This is just one example, I have enough to fill an encyclopedia size set of books.

Although with age and wisdom we realize that this is a very short life, we also realize that never is a long time.

I’m very appreciative of that forgiveness thing Jesus talked about because there’s been a lot of times I’ve gone back on my word.

I could be the size of a barn with all the words I’ve had to eat. Maybe I’d be skinny due to the fact that my foot was usually in my mouth. You get the point. (and pun)

I try to choose my words a little more carefully these days. The Proverb, “Pride goeth before a fall, after humility, comes honor.” This Bible verse has more meaning in my life now than ever before.

I’ve also learned that words are powerful, but not as powerful as actions. Talking the talk, is much easier than walking the walk. Since we as humans are not perfect and given to weakness. It’s not bad advice to follow the rule of “Never Say Never.”

There are some exceptions to that rule. There are also some self-fulfilling prophecies in those powerful words.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard people say, “I’m never gonna…” Finish the statement any number of ways and we’ve all heard most of them. “I’m never gonna be rich.” Or, “I’m never gonna get outta this place.” Maybe, “I’m never gonna trust another person as long as I live”! One of the most popular is, “I’m never gonna go to church again”!

A bitter heart is powerful.

I have to admit all the nevers I quoted and didn’t keep. I’d rather lose integrity for a short time, in order to gain wisdom for a lifetime.

Although I failed many times to keep my sometimes ignorant word because I didn’t and can admit it, I have peace.

I think quite often those “never declarations” find their motivations in fear. Fear of failing, fear of rejection, and fear of losing control. That seems more like existing than living.

The gift of life has its struggles and disappointments, but it also has the promise of God to those of us who believe.

The “never” that I count on through the days that make up my life is the one promise in scripture. (partial) “I WILL NEVER LEAVE THEE OR FORSAKE THEE.”

This promise of “never” is also the forgiveness for my unkept “nevers.”

By the way, I never told Mike I got my wife that car…

CHANGING THE STARS- PERSEVERANCE

perseverance

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I write because I enjoy it. When I can relate in words to others it brings me gratification. Like many labors of love, the payoff is worth the struggle.

Sometimes when I write, the words get pushed out of the pen similar to pushing a rope uphill. Other times the words flow from the end of my pen like water from a faucet.

A blank page and thoughts are simple things that everyone has. What a person does with their thoughts and a blank page can be magical. The world of words is like most everything else in life, it’s crowded. There are far more books written per year than get published every year.

There are scads of wildly gifted writers who’s work will never see the light of day. My guess is also like everything else in life, being gifted will get a person almost zero.

There was an old saying that went something like this. “That and 25 cents will get you a cup of coffee.” In other words only the 25 cents will get you a cup of coffee. The gift, idea, or purpose is worthless by itself. 25 cents won’t buy you a cup of Joe anymore, but the gifts or ideas still have the same value. Even after adjustment for inflation today as compared to the old days it still has the same value all by itself… NADA!

What’s more important than the gift itself? I’m glad you asked that to yourself. The answer is perseverance, of course!

It doesn’t matter what the dream is, or when it is, without perseverance it’s probably not going to happen.

Like the journeyman in any craft, time and  experience are crucial for success. Even more deciding between the journeyman with the same amount of experience would be desire. The love of the trade or craft.

I enjoyed the movie “A Knights Tale,” starring the late Heath Ledger. It was a story about a peasant who worked hard to hone the gift of Jousting into an art, a trade restricted to only Noblemen. The character William was sent away by his father to apprentice as a helper to a Noblemen. His dad sent him off into life as just a lad. As William was disappearing into the fog his dad shouted after him. “CHANGE YOUR STARS WILLIAM”!

When it was discovered the new challenger to the champion, William was not of noble but of peasant ancestry, he had a chance to run in order to save his life. He chose to stay and face imprisonment because he knew in his heart, and said at this point in the story, “I AM A KNIGHT”!

Even though this is a fiction story, that is a truth of this life. One must believe in their heart in themselves and be willing to bust their butt to prove to the world what they know of themselves.

When a person sets their sights on “Changing Their Stars,” they come in conflict with the rest of the world. Whatever it is we’re trying to change there will be forces trying to prevent it. Similar to our story, so it is with the story of real life.

The Noble’s don’t want any more competition. They want to keep their small world unchanged. The door to the their exclusive Country Club is not open with a tidy welcome mat adorning the threshold for anyone other than their contemporaries.

Likewise, the masses of our peers want to keep the rest of us equal with them. They don’t want to see someone “Change Their Stars,” misery loves company. The masses have settled for a less than gratified life and don’t want to see anyone else gain one.

For anyone who has broken through the barriers to “Change Their Stars,” my hats off to them.

If someone has changed their stars due to a gift from God and have coupled that gift with perseverance and desire to accomplish it, I say, “Good Deal”! That means it can happen again, it’s not impossible.

I’d be disappointed in myself if I died not trying, that’s for the masses.

The truth is I just need to keep doing what I love. Isn’t that the true definition of success?

Recognized for it or not, I write because I enjoy it…

MONOPOLY

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PART 1

The game Monopoly is the most played board game in the world. It’s been reported that over a billion people have played this game.

It’s a pretty safe bet that most people reading this have played the game of Monopoly. Charles Darrow was the man credited with manufacturing and selling the game. There were similar games, but he was the one who arranged production, marketing, and sold it to the masses.

Darrow got caught in the stock market crash in 1929 and ended up bankrupt. He quickly regained his losses and more, with a sale of the rights to his game to Parker Bros. in 1931.

Monopoly was my favorite board game when I was a kid. I never won in those days, but loved wheeling and dealing with adults and others. What a thrill to play the game that I thought adult life might be like.

Monopoly was a game of pretend, just like the games played outside as a kid. The difference was this game of pretend was enjoyed by adults, as well as kids.

My dad usually won, my oldest brother had the next-best winning percentage. My mom, well, She was a mom. Let’s just say negotiating with her, when close to game bankruptcy was a little more forgiving than my dad or brother.

As the old adage goes, “History repeats itself.” Indeed, it does. We as a country and world are in a similar situation now as Charles Darrow found himself in some 80 years ago.

Similar to the game of Monopoly is how a lot of us are living our real lives now. Rolling the dice, moving ahead with apprehension and hope, praying we don’t land on a place that can wipe us out. Maybe rent, taxes, improvements, or other emergencies of life.

The difference between Darrow and the rest of the majority of this country was his mindset. With change comes opportunity. He obviously didn’t sit back and wait for someone or a government to bail him out. He took matters into his own hands.

PART 2

When I was playing Monopoly as a child I knew we weren’t well off. My dad had started a business in a down economy. Like many other families, my mom and dad just made it work. My two big brothers and me shared the same room all of our childhood until they got older and moved away from home.

The Levi 501’s were worn until they were threadbare and full of holes. Thereby setting the stage for the future “torn” jeans that became fashionable decades later.

I can’t remember laughing more in my life than I did back then. Tough financial times or not, those were the days I remember in vivid detail and cherish.

I still remember my dad’s laugh when I landed on Boardwalk or Parkplace with hotels on them. I would hope and pray having done the math with my fingers, knowing which numbers to avoid and rolled the dice with urgency. I didn’t care much for the laugh. I knew what it meant. I was done and he had won the game of Monopoly.

He didn’t laugh in mockery, he was genuinely having fun with his family. This while struggling to support us every day.

Decades after some success in business, he was the same man as I played Monopoly with as a lad. At his funeral service, no one spoke of his success in business. Those are the times when everyone understands the true values of this life.

People spoke of his generosity, his integrity, his character. Traits that define an honorable life.

Times are tough all over again. I suspect this won’t be the last time either.

Here’s another old adage, “Some things never change.” It sounds quite the opposite of the one I used earlier. I guess they both are true, as difficult as that is to get our minds around.

To my point, a couple of  months ago my daughter asked, “Dad you want to play Monopoly”? “Sure, If you set it up,” I answered. After she had it set up and called me in, she asked, “What do you  want to be”? I didn’t hesitate, “The race car, of course”!

It works out pretty well due to her affinity for animals. She always wants to be the dog. I’m thinking some day when her kids ask her what she wants to be when they play Monopoly, She’ll reply, “The dog, of course”!

May she remember her family as a young girl and though we faced difficult times, we laughed and enjoyed life. May she also remember that in the trying times her dad always had hope and trust in God, and knew opportunity was right around the corner.

Maybe she’ll even write about it…..

KICKING THE CAN

KICKING THE CAN

When I was young we did a lot of walking. It was a different world then. Towns and cities were smaller so everything was closer. We, as kids, weren’t scheduled to the hilt like our children are today.

Many times while making that walk we’d come upon a can. A simple mismanaged piece of trash, sitting along the roadside waiting to become the focus during the walk. Time goes by a little easier and certainly less boring while you’re playing a game.

The game of “Kicking The Can” is played with one to several players. The rules varied depending on if there were curbs or sidewalks. Distance was always the most impressive task as I recall. Accuracy was a distant second.

Whether alone or with friends it always made the walk a little more enjoyable.

No matter how far anyone kicked that can we’d always catch up with it. In fact, we’d catch up a little bit quicker than just an average speed of walk, due to the four or five step “run up” to the can. The purpose of course was to develop power and speed to concentrate directly to the can in order to send it flying.

It seems our society has taken to that game of “Kicking The Can” down the road. It’s an old game, probably just changed from a rock to a can. Since we started packaging food and drinks in convenient packages, namely cans, It’s gotten progressively worse.

It also seems as though everyone has turned a blind eye to this problem of “Kicking The Can” down the road.

Like children, no one wants to be the one to pick up the piece of trash. We want to play the game, we just don’t want to be responsible for the clean up.

The problem with this game of “Kicking The Can,” is like another child’s game. The game of “Musical Chairs.” At some time in the future, the music will stop and there won’t be enough chairs for everyone to sit. Someone will be left out.

Like that kid who didn’t get a chair, so will a group of people be without the basic necessities of life we now take for granted.

The people we send to represent us are in fact doing exactly what we want them to do. We are choosing to “Kick The Can” of problems facing our society down the road for the next generations to have to clean up.

Our elected officials play on our emotions and weaknesses. I believe they tell us what we want to hear. We as adults tend to forget the basics of mathematics. 2+2 still equals 4.

Like children, we avoid the consequences as long as we can. As we do, the consequences get greater. Worse than that, we are punishing the ones we love in order to avoid the consequences.

Can you imagine a gunman demanding a hostage and a mom or dad pushing their child in front of them saying, “Take him or her”!

If that doesn’t make sense, then how does putting the problems facing our society off to the very ones God’s called us to protect?

It is our choice, but we have to demand it. We need to stop the game.

We, as a nation, have reached our destination. We’ve gone far enough.

Let’s pick up the trash and put it in its proper place.

The right thing usually is the hardest thing. It’s going to take another “Great Generation” to pull this off.

The “Great Generation” was characterized by their selflessness.

What word will the historians use to describe this generation?