Finding Floyd

WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

Repost from September 2010

I really enjoy the song “What A Wonderful World” performed by Louie Armstrong. The authors of the song describe the good and beautiful in our world. The day and night, rainbows, friends, and children.

It’s interesting that Armstrong would have accepted the invitation to sing a song with those type of lyrics in 1968, the climax of America’s racial conflicts.

My guess is, by the age of 68 he had enough wisdom to know that the only true change in people would start in their hearts.

A changed heart is a changed perspective and a changed perspective is a changed way of thinking. I think of all the nasty things Armstrong must have witnessed in his life. The oppression, segregation, and hate. Yet in spite of all he knew about human nature, he knew there was hope.

We all know that pain and suffering is part of this world. We know that death is inevitable for all of us. Everyone has witnessed or lived through difficult times, some obviously more than others.

My sister-in-law has a friend who’s eight-year-old daughter died of Cystic Fibrosis. She was at her friends house when the little girls ten-year-old brother offered to carry his little sisters emaciated body to the ambulance. She watched him carry her out with tears in his eyes.

That family will never be the same.

There is a popular Christian singer/songwriter who shortly after he released a song about his adopted daughter, was accidently killed by another family member. How does one cope with that in this life?

We see pictures of little kids in various parts of the world who are dying of hunger and disease. There isn’t anything wonderful for the eyes to find in those circumstances.

Maybe you’ve heard someone say something like, “If there is a God, how come He allows so much pain and suffering”?

I marvel at the life of Louie Armstrong, his dad left him and his mom for another woman. His mom ended up as a prostitute and Louie lived part of his life on the streets. He picked up the desire to play the Cornet from listening to the live music in downtown New Orleans.

image courtesy of nypost.com

What if he’d been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, say in California? Do you think he would have had the same determination and spirit that motivated him to perform non-stop right up until his death in 1971?

I consider the verse in 2nd Corinthians 5:8. “We are confident I say and willing rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”

Those children previously mentioned, according to this scripture are at their real home.

What if the old adage has some deeper meaning than first meets the ear. “Only the good die young.” What if our human perspective is relegated to a brain born in this flesh, with less comprehension of the other dimension where God’s word tells us our souls live forever?

In those horrific things that happen in the flesh, what if God is showing mercy to the flesh? What if God is showing mercy to the ones He calls home?

What if an omnipotent God can use those negative things in our lives to bring about wonderful things in the lives of others?

What if God could use a simple song by a man who had been oppressed, and yet put forgiveness in that man’s heart?

Maybe that little song would give people a better understanding of how we’re to treat one another, regardless of what we look like?

Hmmmmm….. “I think to myself, what a wonderful world.”

NO MORE DOG EAT DOG WORLD, ONLY ‘DOG WORLD’

Is it me? Or has the world gone to the dogs? Now I love animals as much as the average Joe I’d say, but what’s going on in the world makes me crease my brow and scratch my head.

I apologize in advance because I know that this post is going to step on some toes and most definitely some paws. I’m gonna to try to have fun with what I see is becoming a real issue.

I just got back to Arizona, maybe one of the reasons I’m summertime grouchy, almost an hour late. There I was; first in line, A1 on my mobil boarding pass, but the “special needs passengers” get to board first. That alone makes my blood boil, due to the fact that the majority of those folks lie like a dog… You like that tie in? I digress.

One of the scads of so called “special needs passengers” was a young girl, probably about the same age as my youngest, who didn’t have a dog… she had two… And that somehow qualified her as a “special needs passenger”.

After the gaggle of folks that limped up, rang the boarding bell, then skipped down the jetway, the lady boarding the plane full of liars asked for the girl’s boarding pass. Enter; the beginning of our delays…

To make a long and painful story short, it went from not having the proper documentation for one of the dogs, to the lady phoning her boss, to the girl trying to stuff both dogs into one tiny bag, one yelped like he was dying, to her rifling through her suitcase sized purse to find her emotional letter from her doctor, which was expired, the lady trying to board the plane demanded her boss come and deal with the girl… He finally gave in and let the girl board to avoid any longer delays.

Meanwhile back at the fake front of the line – I’m staring at the situation with eyes like daggers. Needless to say, I spent a miserable flight with kids screaming and a barking dog…

The other one is in the black bag over her right shoulder…

It’s a regular occurrence these days to be following a guy or gal down the aisle at Home Depot with their dog on a leash, even though it’s posted that pets aren’t allowed, service pets only… Without fail the person in front of me comes to stop when they meet the dog wielding window shopper coming from the other direction.

I stand and wait for them to chat while they let their dogs sniff each other’s nether regions. I try to manage my way around them, because I have real business to take care of, only to have that same snout that’s been sniffing the other dog poke me with it… 🤨

I realize that people have issues, anxiety and so forth, SO DO I!!!

How does that give people the right to infringe on other people’s rights? You see, I think that only makes those people’s problems worse. The more folks get self absorbed and lose sight of treating others by the Golden Rule they spiral into an even worse place; themselves.

I don’t usually like the NLT, but I do for this subject; “For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred.”

My old dog Larry was way better than all those dogs anyway… I miss him my boy.

THE WORN OUT SWEATSHIRT

Repost and edit from August 2010

What happened to the average I-don’t-care-what-I-wear-on-Saturday people? They’re either gone or they’re hiding.

This was a typical Saturday for me with a few exceptions. Work in the morning, hit the gym early and take care of whatever falls into the “his” category of responsibility.

I don’t dress like Frank Sinatra any day of the week and I’m the polar opposite on Saturday. This is the day that society has deemed acceptable for a person to wear worn out, discolored, wrinkled, outdated or just plain ugly clothing. At least it used to be. Come to think of it, I guess I’m probably the only one at the gym with  holes in my clothes nowadays… Whenever they changed this code they didn’t inform me of it.

I went straight home from the gym, got my wife’s much past due for an oil change car and took it to the “lame lube”. (We don’t pull out into the desert to change oil anymore, I did get that memo) They were even slower and more inept that day than usual. I didn’t have time to let them try to figure out how to reset the oil life percentage read out. My youngest daughter was at home waiting to be taken to her orientation at the library where she has volunteered to work on the weekends.

She is definitely a “chip off the old block.” She loves books even more than I did when I was young. There is a possibility that she has read more books in her life than I have in mine. At any rate, we only had time for her to hop in the car and head straight to the library.

She was a little apprehensive about walking into the library by herself. She wanted me to walk her in. This, a job that she volunteered for without my wife or me coercing her into. I didn’t even know they had such positions. I thought you had to be middle aged, wear glasses, wear your hair in a bun and have strong lungs to be able to say, “Shhhhhhhh!”

What do I know? I know enough to know that she needed to walk in alone and learn to be independent.

“Please go in with me?” She pleaded.

I responded, “Do you really want me to walk you in with holes in my shirt”? A perfect prop for the occasion.

She started again, “I think y-“-RIP!!! I cut her off.

Mid sentence I reached over to my left shoulder and enlarged the size of the hole in my shirt… to ensure independence.

“Okay, Dad.” She smiled as if to say, “That was a good one.”

I finished with, “I’ll wait out here for a few minutes in case they need me and my ripped up clothes to sign anything.”

She walked briskly with intention in her steps, I know because I followed her at a distance. The library is adjacent to the mall and sometimes has some suspicious looking characters hanging around. You know, people with holes in their clothes and the like…

With one hour to kill, I stepped through the parking garage to the mall. I can count on one hand the times I’ve been to the mall by myself in the last two decades. I can count, on the other hand, the times I’ve been with my wife in that same time period.

To my surprise, I was the only one walking through the mall with a sweatshirt on that had noticeable sweat discoloration and holes. Doesn’t anyone else wear their old favorites that should have been thrown away years ago except me?

While discovering a $9.99 baggy shorts sale rack, I got a text from my daughter.

“It’s getting ready to start, I think it’s going to be really good! I don’t need you to come in.”

I texted back, “Good job, girl. I knew you could do it!”

Off in the distance, in my minds eye, I see and taste that bitter-sweet day of my little girls independence…

This worn out sweatshirt soaks up the tears quite well.

I think I’ll keep it for a while…..

CRAZY STEVE

crazy Steve

image courtesy of photobucket.com

Repost and edit from January 2012

I don’t think about him as much as I used to. I’ve never given him any credit for my writing desire either. The truth is I have no idea if he had anything to do with resurrecting my writing desire, but he was doing it in real life, pursuing his dream long before I was.

I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever see his screenplay developed into a movie. The screenplay was based on his real life experiences while serving our country as a member of what now has become even more popularly known as Special Forces.

Interesting that a man with as much physical prowess as Steve has would have a hankering to write. It was easy to read his style and personality in his hopeful movie, Chained To The Oars.

It was a dark, real life, open your eyes type of war movie that I believe would be a huge seller. It also revealed the heart of a troubled man, a man in search of something more to his life.

Steve was like everyone else in this world, he was in search of something. Also, like the majority of others, he didn’t know it was God he was looking for… While I don’t know much in this life, I did know that.

The Lord doth work in mysterious ways… This calling was mysterious to say the least. The clear and concise writer was a warrior, the physical side of Steve’s life was equaled by his passion to put pen to paper. From my perspective now, I’m not sure which one he had more passion for; the pen to paper, or fighting.

I met Crazy Steve in the gym. He was hired to sell memberships, but mostly to clear the gym of trouble makers. While Steve cut an imposing silhouette, he was substantially less imposing as some of the thugs he was to shape up or ship out.

When he confronted one of the all out monsters who was throwing weights around the gym, I couldn’t spot an ounce of fear. Something in the eyes of Crazy Steve told the cartoon character of the man in the gym he wasn’t lying when he told the big fella he’d be more than willing to take him outside and, “Start Breakin’ Bones.”

After training with Steve, it would be a year of intimate friendship before I’d see all the bullet wounds on his body that should have taken his life. Things began to make more sense. It doesn’t take a valedictorian to be able to understand God had His hand and eye on Crazy Steve his entire life.

God was calling Steve and it was a rare time for this writer to be involved in that process. To be honest, it could be I was just the sparring partner while God used my wife to speak and show the love of God to this earthly warrior.

Did I mention God works in mysterious ways? Indeed, He does… Crazy Steve and I had all out wars… A week after I knocked Steve’s front tooth out, I ended up with a broken toe and a severed ACL.

Funny how a bond among men with mutual respect sharing truths with one another can lead to miraculous things. Not funny to God. After all, He does work in ways that are beyond our comprehension. Too bad for me the damage and pain have been as lasting as the memories.

Crazy Steve wasn’t so crazy after all, he asked Christ into his life.

My wife and I sometimes recall the night after we prayed with Steve. We were about to have dinner where I usually pray when Steve asked,

“Can I pray?”

“Absolutely,” I said.

In his booming bass voice Steve began,

“Hey God?” … “Thanks.”

That said enough for all of us…

THE DAMAGE IS DONE

No one ever heard of sun screen when we were kids. To screen yourself from the sun you had to find a rare piece of shade, which is no small achievement in the Arizona desert. It was that or park your behind in the house. And that wasn’t about to happen when we were grabbing the world by its horns.

It was so hot that we figured the less clothes the better. It was kinda cool to see how dark our skin could get. Some of the girls would even slather themselves up with baby oil to get even darker.

As a young man framing houses I dressed similar to the way I did when I was a kid. By then I’d spent so much time in the sun my back was the color of Coca Cola. My poor nose peeled more times than it should have…

About ten years ago I began to pay the fiddler… I get regular skin checkups and the doctor freezes, which is so blasted cold that it burns, the pre-cancer spots off my tired skin. I have a small hole in the end of my nose where the pre-cancer was burned off six or seven years ago.

I always hold out hope for my annual skin check up. I think that this could be the year that he checks me, always a young female nurse with him and me stripped down to my underwear…🤨, and says, “It all looks good. See you next year.” But it’s yet to happen…

Sure enough, the trigger happy freezing fiend didn’t take long to find spots to burn, but this check up took a new twist. “Did you know you have a mole on the bottom of your foot?”

“No,” I said with dread.

He went on to tell me that he would have to cut it out and get it biopsied. Then he explained that moles on the bottom of your feet or on the palms of your hands are often melanoma.

By the time the young nurse was shooting the bottom of my foot with an unpleasant needle to prepare me to have a hole dug in my foot I didn’t care so much about being in my underwear. Those kinds of things fade to grey when faced with real issues, like possible cancer.

image courtesy of memecenters.com

It’s hard to walk around with a chunk of meat dug out of the bottom of your foot. It’s also a couple of sobering days waiting to hear the results of the test.

The days are gone when I thought I could outlast the sun. I never considered mortality back then. And I cheated death almost daily. These days I step off curbs carefully… a far cry from jumping off roofs to be the first in line to the catering truck. And you’d be hard pressed to find me outside without a cotton long sleeved T-shirt on, but the damage is done…

I reminded myself that I don’t know the number of my days, but I know Who does. I’m called to make the most of the days I’m given so that each one brings Him honor. I still fail at that…

I was relieved to get the phone call to let me know the test came back negative. But our days are like musical chairs and one day we all have no place to sit when the music stops.

Those words of wisdom we memorize early in life come back to us; “Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.” Learning the words is different than living the days.

I was disappointed, but not shocked when I discovered the site wound was infected. Another massive needle in the butt and ten days of antibiotics four times a day. And all because of a freckle on my foot… Maybe I’ll laugh about it someday… that would be a gift in and of itself.