Turn The Dirt

September 29, 2008

I remember waking up more excited than usual to meet a new day.  My father in law was involved in a local groundbreaking, and had been able to procure us to front row seats. People may find it hard to believe that someone could get excited for a simple groundbreaking, but, this groundbreaking was for a unique building that had a particular significance to our community. Dressed in my suit and tie, my wife Kolette and I headed to the build site for the ceremony.

We arrived, were directed to VIP parking, and an usher escorted us to our seats. On the stage, sat local, state, and national government and ecclesiastical leaders. Both video and print news representatives were on hand to report on the event.

The ceremonies began. There are musical numbers from a local choirs and comments from the leaders on the stand. Then the moment arrived and the highest ranking leaders grabbed gold shovels and broke the ground. The media closed in to get just the right shot. After the highest-ranking leaders had done their job, it was time for officials like my father-in-law to follow suit.

As they invited him to come up and grab a shovel, my father-in-law encouraged me to join him.  We approach the dig site, and he handed me a shovel.  I looked at the shovel and tried to figure out how I was going to “break the ground.”  Without the use of my hands, or full use of my arms one could say without much hyperbole that I’m not real strong with a shovel. But, in front of the crowd I did my best to do my part.

With Kolette’s dad in front of me, and with the crowd watching on, I grabbed the shovel.  I clasped the center of the shovel with my left hand, slid my right hand above the top of the shaft and tried to see if I could get that shovel in the ground and turn some dirt. The head of the shovel made it into the ground, but as I worked to move the earth, the top of  the handle slid out of my right hand.

With cameras rolling and flashes blazing, my shovel flew forward with impressive speed nearly smacking my father-in-law square in the head. A look of terror slowly encompassed my face, and as I turned to retake my place in the crowd hoping to avoid any further embarrassment, I saw Kolette.

Without being asked, and without drawing any more attention to an already tenuous situation, she quietly made her way to my side.  Kolette picked the shovel up from off the ground and invited me to make another attempt with her help.  Together, we were able to get the head into the ground and successfully turn the dirt.

So often through the course of our lives we work to do things that seem easy at first only to find failure. Even knowing my limitations I never would have guessed that simply participating in a groundbreaking I would’ve nearly turned my father-in-law into the headless horseman in front of hundreds of people and major media. But it happened, I failed. Then, I was taught a powerful lesson.

When we see others fail, like Kolette, we need to jump up and help to make things more steady. We can’t just stand idly by assuming people would rather fail alone then succeed with help.  If we do, more people will fail than need to. They will fail and without saying a word take their seat back in the crowd hoping to avoid further humiliation, just like I would have done at the groundbreaking. However, if we will stop when we see those around us frustrated with their inabilities, we have an opportunity to help.  A chance to let others see that with li.ttle help they can turn their near failures into genuine successes. I was so grateful that day that my experience didn’t have to end at experience with failure.

No one wants to fail. Everyone wants to succeed, even if it’s with a little help. So watch for those in your lives whose shovels may be getting a little out of their control. Then, without being asked, and without fanfare, go to their side, pick up their shovel, and help them, “turn the dirt.”

Wet Pants or Dry Shirt?

September 24, 2008

On a regular, average summer afternoon in my youth I was sitting in the kitchen watching my youngest brother play with his friends in the backyard as my mother cleaned up the mess from lunch.  The kids fun came to its inevitable lull, the friends went home and my brother came in the house.  As soon as he opened the back door it was obvious that there was a problem.  He had wet his pants.

He was old enough that this was something my mom believed to be behind them.  I could tell by the look on my brothers face that he knew wetting his pants was going to bring him some grief.  He sheepishly looked up and his innocent eyes met my mothers understandably furious gaze.

“Nathan, you wet your pants!” she exclaimed.

“Yeah,” he replied, “but, I didn’t wet my shirt.”

My mom tried hard to remain stern, but the laughter took over.  Nathan and I followed suit and began to laugh, I looked closely and realized he was right.  Although his pants were soaked his shirt was bone dry.

Nathan was under no misconceptions about what happened. He had in fact wet his pants, and this was something, “bad.” It wasn’t the right thing, or a good thing, or a thing that even remotely had any positive ramifications. But, it had happened, and now he had to make a decision — to concentrate on the bad or to see the good.

Often in our lives were presented with the same opportunity. To decide whether to see the bad or emphasize the good. Seeing the bad is definitely easier, and requires very little effort. There is bad everywhere in everyone’s life, and it gets all kinds of publicity. All you have to do is watch the news, read the paper, or listen to the daily gossip to see it.   There are bad people making poor decisions that bring with them bad consequences. There are also good people making good decisions that bring unfortunate consequences. Bad things happen, it’s just a fact of life.

However, if we choose to we can, like Nathan, see the good. But, it will take considerably more effort. It doesn’t get the press the bad does, maybe a few minutes at the end of the nightly news,  or a few lines in the paper. But it’s there, it ‘s everywhere.  If you’ll look, you’ll see it as someone lets you merge on the freeway, or a neighbor stops to help you fix your car.   It’s evident in every kind word or simple deed that comes unasked from one person to another. It’s just as evident and prevalent as the bad for those who make the conscious decision to see it.

We then, each day get to choose.  Which will it be, which will we see. This decision will be paramount in deciding what kind of day you have. If you choose to concentrate on the, “Wet Pants” you’ll see them and have a bad day. But, if you’ll exert just little extra energy you’ll find the, “Dry Shirts” and have good day after good day.

So, “Wet Pants or Dry Shirt.”


Improve Your Day By Following Your Horoscope

September 19, 2008

Every day people across america wake-up and before they can begin their day have to find their horoscope in the paper or on the internet. They watch carefully for each prophecy listed for their sign, and then watch for those same prophecies to become reality in their day. More often then not they want those prophecies to be true so bad that they look for them to come true anywhere and anyway. Think about that, either you believe the stars are life prophets, or, you believe those people have an incredible ability to let their beliefs become reality. And I don’t believe out fate is written anywhere–especially in the stars.

Positive thinking allows us the power of self-prophecy. If we but think the very best for ourselves and then watch for that very best in our daily lives it won’t be long until that very best becomes simple reality. So believe, believe that you can do anything, and believe it so strong that you begin to make those beliefs real without even realizing it. Write your own prophecies and just look for beauty in the stars.