"Nails on chalkboard" courtesy of Photobucket

“Nails on chalkboard” courtesy of Photobucket

The dreaded sounds of little kids screaming still strike a nerve with me that reaches the same levels on my impatience-o-meter as nails on a chalkboard. Before I had kids… well, let’s just say the meter didn’t register high enough to capture the level of my annoyance.

Living in Arizona, especially in the wintertime when the birds that can’t fly flock to town, the ones we refer to as “snowbirds”, there is no avoiding the elderly folks who are retired and not remotely close to being in a hurry. They’re easy to spot, they typically drive ten miles an hour under the speed limit, and that in the fast lane. It’s not uncommon for them to turn right from the far left-hand turn lane.

These days I just roll my eyes and shake my head in frustration, but the days of me laying on the horn or yelling out the window and telling them to “Go home!” are far behind me.

As a kid, I watched folks strive to get ahead. What bothered me the most is when I realized a good number of the people desperately striving for the good life didn’t care if they had to lie, cheat, or steal to get what it was that they believed would define them. Of course, this was long before I learned the art of justification my darn self.

It took longer than it should have for me to figure out that not everyone is cut out for or can stand up under, the strain this life seems to drop on our shoulders. Sometimes it feels like a load meant for a pack mule. The load can be physical, but far more often it’s mental or spiritual.

Not every person has a strong back as well as mind and it varies for all of us depending on the scenarios. Some loads don’t cause certain folks to miss a step physically or mentally, but that same load can cripple others.

I ponder the lack of tenderness, compassion, and sympathy that has accompanied a lot of folks including myself along life’s merry way. I’ve failed to look and remember the exasperation in the eyes of a parent over their screaming child.

It’s rare, but just last week I was cruising in my truck when a little white import car went flying around me at the speed of light and threw me a quick glance that was laced with disgust. I peeked down at the speedometer and it was a several clicks under the legal limit… never thought that would happen…

Striving could well describe my years in business and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to justifying my actions in the process, at least on occasion. From the outside, I don’t look so different than some of the folks I had disdain for as a youngster.

I’ve scoffed at the people that have revealed their physical and mental weaknesses. I’ve been disgusted with the people that worshipped their strengths, knowing finally that in the end those are really their weaknesses.

More often these days the words of George Washington Carver bounce between my ears, “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic, with the strong and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these…”

Then I remember Matthew 7:12; The Golden Rule…

That’s usually when I ponder how it could be so easy to forget… and how often I need to be reminded.