Friday, September 15, 2017

Stories from my past Vol. 1

So I spent a lot of time working for my parents when I was a kid.  We traveled out of town a lot in the summers, and I spent a lot of time with guys that were older than I was.  It was a good time, and we did stupid things.  I've decided to tell some of these stories because they are hilarious.  You may not believe me, but this stuff actually happened.  I have changed all of the names in these stories to protect the identities of the people involved.

A little background on this story.  We were working outside of Kingman, Arizona in the middle of summer.  To say it was hot would be the worst understatement in the history of mankind.  We went to work at 4 A.M. to try to stay out of the heat, and it was 95 degrees when we walked out the door.

Our two main characters in this story, we'll call them Doug and Murphy, were working out in that sweltering heat all day.  Murphy was a tall red headed guy in his mid twenties, who was freakishly strong.  He never played any sports to my knowledge, but he was one of those naturally gifted athletes.  Doug, on the other hand, was the stud athlete on the football team.  He was probably 17 at the time, and he wanted to be the alpha dog.  So of course the rest of us always poked at him a little bit, especially about Murphy and his athletic ability.

Doug couldn't take the fact that there was someone there that might just be a bigger badass than he was.  The rest of us constantly reinforced the fact that he may or may not be the best athlete on the job.  Murphy couldn't have cared less.

At some point, I'm not sure exactly when, Doug decided to start trying to push Murphy into some kind of physical contest.  You know, lift heavy things, run fast, etc....  Murphy wasn't interested and let Doug know that in no uncertain terms.  Doug, god bless him, wouldn't take the hint.  So the razzing by the rest of us only got worse.  I'm not going to lie, it was a lot of fun.  Kind of like poking a bear and waiting to see what happened.

Eventually it came to a head.  We were sitting on the tailgate of the truck having a drink out of the cooler when Murphy finally snapped.  We had just finished walking to the top of a decent sized hill and coming back down to the truck.  Doug had not stopping talking smack the entire way.  So Murphy challenged Doug to a foot race.  Starting at the truck and running to the top of the same hill we just climbed and back to the truck.

Oh you should have seen the joy on Dougs face.  He was finally going to prove he was the man.  I remember thinking that they were crazy.  It had to be 115 degrees at that time and we had just drank a whole bunch of liquids.  I mean, you talk about a recipe for disaster.  But by god it was happening, and I think by that point we were all glad it was finally going to be over.  The fun we had been having poking at Doug had turned into all of us being annoyed that he wouldn't let it go.

So the foot race was on.  Murphy laid out the short rule list.  First to the top of the hill won the race.  Now that it was on, Murphy started taking smack to Doug, which was weird considering that for weeks Murphy didn't want anything to do with it.  The more Murphy talked, the more Doug got wound up and the more his chest stuck out.

My job is to give the 3, 2, 1, Go to start the race.  Murphy and Doug lined up next to each other, Doug giving Murphy the stare down.  I count down and yell go.

Doug takes off at a dead sprint, as fast as he can run through the brush and cactus.  Murphy took one fast step forward.....turned around, walked back to the truck, and sat down on the tailgate.  Where all of us promptly started laughing our asses off.  Unfortunately for Doug, he never looked back to see what was going on.  Even when he threw up half way up the hill.  When he got to the top, he turned around and realized what had happened.  I thought I could see his dismayed, pissed off face, but he was a long way away.  I can tell you that I could hear him cursing up there, in between the dry heaves he had.

I never knew what a walk of shame looked like until that moment.

When he got back to the truck, Doug was still Doug.  He was still going to try to be the Alpha dog.  But he was going to let Murphy be in his own pack.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Busy Busy Busy

Man, have we been busy lately.  I should have written this one at least a couple of weeks ago, but we have not stopped to take a breath.  We are selling our house at the moment and we needed to get it ready, and get ourselves ready for the move.  Lots of things that had to be done, including downsizing.  It's amazing how much stuff you can accumulate over the course of eight years.  So we took a hard look at what we had vs what we needed and let go of a lot of it.

Now we are on to the next adventure.  We are going to go straight up tiny house.  Most people, including pretty much everyone in both our families, think we are crazy.  And they might be right.  But if crazy means I don't have a mortgage to pay and I get to travel and do more things with my family, well then sign my up for the looney bin.

I'm realizing that this rat race we are all in kind of sucks.  Trying to keep up with the Jonese just flat out blows.  Maybe it's just me getting older, I don't know.  The why doesn't matter nearly as much as the how.  As in how I want to live the rest of my life here on earth.  What I don't want is to wake up 15 years from now to a finally paid off mortgage, kids that are living their own life, and 10 more years of hard work to make sure I can retire at some point.  Then spend a few years living on a fixed income before I give up the ghost.  Sounds like a life plan I don't really want to be involved in.

Now, don't get me wrong, I've pretty much followed the plan laid out above for the first 44 years of my life.  But I'm starting to finally figure out what is really important.  Recently a guy I knew in high school died.  He was a couple years older than me, but still, it's hard to accept that I'm now at an age when people I know (including me if I'm being honest) can and will start passing away.  It's kind of a tough pill to swallow, but at the same time a really necessary one.

We all get stuck in out grooves and routines.  I think it's kind of human nature to get comfortable and just go with it.  I can attest to the fact that comfort somehow makes time speed up.  Before we know it twenty years have gone by and we have some good memories that we wouldn't trade.

For me I can make time slow down.  I've done it before, but it only happens when I'm on vacation and I have absolutely no one to answer to and no schedule to keep.  Those days seem to drag on forever without a care in the world.  That's the kind of life I'm shooting for, so I have to build my life around that goal.  It's only taken 44 years to get my head on straight, not bad considering some people never make it to that realization.

There is no time like the present.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Dad Knowledge

So fathers day has come and gone, and once again I'm late with my blog.  Oh well, it has been a really busy week.

I've been thinking this week about what I should be passing down to my kids.  Not material things, but what have I learned that will make their lives better.  Now I'm not talking about ordinary everyday things.  I'm pretty sure all parents go through the similar things with their kids.  Like telling my pre-teen son that he should probably shower.  Or telling my six year old girl to stop running through the house naked after a shower.

I'm talking about some of the life lessons that I've learned.  So, without further ado, here is my top five things I want my kids to know as they grow up.

1.  BE NICE.
That's right, just try to be nice.  Look, there are going to be plenty of people who are not going to like you for a variety of reasons.  It may be something you do, the way you look, or people you hang out with.  The may have a valid reason or it may be something completely stupid.  People are weird that way.  And don't kid yourself, you will be doing the same thing.  There will be people you simply don't like for no apparent reason.  But if you start out by being nice, you stand a hell of a lot better chance at making connections with people and making friends.  This won't work with everyone, but it will work with the vast majority of people you are going to meet in life.  Just remember, it is always better to make a friend that to create an enemy.

Yep.  It's going to happen.  And when it does, you'll feel like someone is ripping your guts out through your belly button.  Your going to feel all kinds of conflicting emotions from sadness to anger and frustration.  Guess what?  That's all normal and just like the rest of life, you will get through it.  But don't let it make you bitter.  Learn the lesson you are supposed to learn from it and do your best to move on.  Hanging on to those emotions will only hold you back.  Trust me, you will find that person (should you choose that route of course) your supposed to be with.  There is an old saying "It's better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all".  Love is a beautiful thing if you keep your heart open.

Life will throw curve balls at you.  It's not always going to be fun.  Sometimes things are going to suck, and it happens to everyone not just you.  There are a millions stories about people and terrible things that happen to them.  We are a surprisingly resilient species and you are stronger than you think.  You will make it through those tough times.  It won't be fun, but you'll come out the other end of those troubles a better person.  You also need to be strong when your life is going well.  It will be easy to sit back, relax, and coast.  Don't do this.  Find something that interests you and work at it.  Volunteer your time to a cause.  The point of life is not to coast.  Work on being someone that is easy for people to look up too.

You will have grown up in a small town, and by the time you turn 18 you will probably be chomping at the bit to get the hell out of dodge.  GOOD.  I'm proud of you for that.  But don't just go to college in a big town and then move to someplace like Denver for a job.  YOU NEED TO TRAVEL.  You need to see how the rest of the world lives.  I know that right now it seems like this is a bad plan with the state of the world.  I'm not telling you to run off to the middle east half cocked.  Do your research and be smart about it but don't let fear of the unknown hold you back.  We live in a great country, no doubt about it.  But you need to experience how the rest of the world goes about life.  They do things differently, and in a lot of cases, better than we do.  You also need to understand how good we have it here.  You'll never complain about your living conditions if you see a 4 year old little girl selling fruit to help support her family.  You need to have a curious mind and a sense of adventure.  Don't let anything take those from you.

We are your parents, and even though you piss us off on a regular basis, we love you.  We always will, it's just the way the way this gig works.  But understand something.  As you get older we become spectators in you life.  We can't make tough decisions for you.  We can't keep you out of trouble.  We will do our best to love and support you, but it is your life to live.  If something truly bad happens we will try to move heaven and earth to help you.  But in most cases you are going to have to clean up your own messes.  We'll be there for moral support, but the choices you make and the consequences that come with them will be yours to deal with.  Just remember that we (and probably lots of other people by this point) love you, and we are always rooting for you.

I promised you five so I'll quit here.  There are so many other things that I'll try to teach you before you quit listening to me completely (I think that means before the teenage years, but we'll see).  Maybe I'll do another one of these as you two grow up.

Until the next one.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Conversation with an Athiest

So I'm hanging out at church today (yes I go on occasion) and I sit down to have a chat with a lady I just met the day before.  She and my wife knew each other of course, but this was the first time I ever really talked to her.

Turns out she's a self admitted atheist.  So of course my question is "Uhhh, then why are you at a church?"  Which of course here response was "I want to know how other people of faith think and process the world around them.  The only way to do that is to talk to people of faith."  I'm paraphrasing here of course.  Our conversation lasted an hour and I don't remember exactly what she, or I for that matter, said.

The thing that struck me most was this,  she really didn't want to talk to me or tell me that she was an atheist.  After we started chatting she finally told me what was up and why she was there.  She had a particular person she liked to have discussions with there about things of faith.  That person was not available, so she got stuck with me.  I was really kind of shocked by the fact that she thought I would be judgemental about the whole thing.  Like she expected me to jump up and yell "Thou art going to HELLLLL", in my best southern preacher voice.

Now, I'm am a far cry from a bible beater.  I have my own views on religion, spirituality, and how those things get applied by us humans.  But I've never felt shamed by people for those beliefs.  But apparently she has had that happen rather regularly.

So, once again, a small conversation got me thinking about people and how we treat each other.  It seems to me that we are all getting a little militant when it comes to religion.  How often have we looked down our noses at someone because they have a different belief than we do?  Probably more often than you want to admit if you are really religious.  How often has one religion said that they were the only true religion and that heaven could only be obtained through them?  If you want to go historically on that statistic it would be damn near 100%.

What's happening with religions today just doesn't make any sense to me.  Isn't the number one rule to be kind to each other?  Love thy neighbor and such?  We sure the hell aren't doing a lot of that, at least it seems that way.  We see all kinds of news where one religion or another is doing exactly the opposite of what they are preaching.  No wonder the woman I sat and chatted with was wary of telling me.

It's easy to judge.  I'm guilty of it, I do it a lot more than I'd like to admit to.  But when we can't see the human being in front of us without a religious filter on, then something is terribly wrong.  The blame doesn't go any further than you and I as individuals.  We create this existence that we live in.

She was a cool, cool human being and we had an hour long conversation about a wide range of things.  At the end of it I was glad that we got to know each other.  My sincerest wish is that her belief, or non belief if you will, would have absolutely no affect on her interactions with others or her life.  Unfortunately this hasn't been her experience, and I can imaging it hasn't been the experience of a lot of people. 

We can always say "This is just the way things are".  But that's not good enough anymore.  Shouldn't we be trying to build the world we want to live in?

Until next time.