Wet Pants or Dry Shirt?

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.”



14 Responses to Wet Pants or Dry Shirt?

  1. Amy says:

    Love this. I will try to focus on the dry shirt. Amy in Wisconsin

  2. Jeanne Ann says:

    Jason, I first heard this story when you told it to us at Creative Escape earlier this month. Since that emotional evening I have started myself on a new path. I wake up each morning and can’t wait to see what Good things are going to happen. Now granted not each day is full of good things, but by looking for the good my life each and every day I have come to appreciate just how much I have and grateful I am to have it.

    I have never been the most optimistic person in the world, more often than not I can be the glass half empty type, but by meeting you and Kolette in person and really understanding your message I can see that I have a chance to be truly happy in life.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for making me see that I am a person that deserves to be happy and have the capabilities to make that happiness a true reality.

    I also cannot wait to hear more of your message in 2009 on Big Picture. I am signed up and counting down days!

  3. LauraP says:

    I totally agree with Jeanne Ann!!! I too went to creative memories and LOVED everything about you and your wife. Thank you so much for coming and sharing this gift to all of us. I am trying really hard to find good things in my life. I truly want to be happy and never realized you actually should work at being happy!! Thanks! I am so glad you started this blog.

  4. LisaW says:

    Kudos to you for finally setting up a blog — and a “GREAT JOB” to Kolette for the gorgeous header!

    This story makes me think of my sons. Chip is my more reserved 21 yo. Thomas is my 19 yo risk taker — determined to turn my hair white. He can be exasperating at times. It was he who inspired my very frustrated Mother’s Manifesto, which worked, by the way 😉

    As you and Kolette will soon learn, a parent often finds themselves in situations where the message is provoked by alarm. From ‘Don’t run into the street! Didn’t you see that car?!’ to “Slow down when you take a corner! Didn’t you see those children playing ball?!”

    At first take, his replies are irritating. “The car didn’t hit me, did it?” or “Their ball didn’t roll into the street, did it?”

    After reading your story, I realize that, yes, my warnings are probably getting through, and yes, the response is likely a cover for chagrin. But more importantly, i realize that this son of mine is capable of optimism and seeing the dry shirt. That’s a characteristic I hope that he never loses.

    Bless you, Jason. You have been an inspiration longer than you could know.


  5. Debi says:

    I’m so glad you have started a blog! I have enjoyed listening to you during BPS classes with Kolette. You are such a wonderful inspiration!!
    Have a great day!

  6. elinjanne says:

    Keep blogging Jason, your words make me feel good.
    I am so looking forward to join you and Kolette for a whole year.

  7. Melissa Cavanaugh says:

    So glad I wandered onto your blog today… love it! I am sharing the link… hope you don’t mind. I could so hear you telling the wet pants dry shirt story, you are right, looking at the dry shirt is infinately better than concentrating on the wet pants… love you both!

  8. michelle says:


    I have truly come back a better mom and person since CE. Your inspiration throughout CE helped me look at where I was at and where I wanted to go. I am happy that you got your boy. I remember you saying that it was the year of the Y. Congrats and I look forward to reading.

    Michelle in CA

  9. lisa says:

    Glad you’re blogging Jason! I love this story…what a great way to look at life.
    I look forward to more great blog entries from you and Kolette. You both are one awesome team!

  10. Michelle says:

    Sweet! Soooo glad you decided to start a blog! I really enjoyed hearing your message at CE. The opportunity to “hear” you regularly through your blog is excellent!

    Have to say I still giggle when I think about a particular story you told us at CE that included a reference to 5×7 index cards. You immediately corrected yourself by saying they were actually 3×5 index cards because you knew as scrapbookers the EXACT measurements were critical to our understanding!!! At the time, I laughed so hard I snorted which made me laugh even more!

    Still laughing but have the snorting part under control…

    Life is good indeed!
    Michelle in Chicago

  11. Traci in Charlotte says:

    Love the story, and the outlook Jason. I’ve long been a subscriber to this theory, and I believe Lincoln said it best when he told a friend that “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Whether it’s happiness or achievement, focus and decision about how we will perceive our reality make all the difference.

    I loved your presentation at CE – great work! I’ll be by to visit your blog soon


  12. Bree Ross says:

    Whoo hoo! So glad you have a blog! Will be checking in often!

    My best to you and Kolette!

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