Preparing

The most memorable Thanksgivings in my life were the ones that didn’t follow the traditional script. The ones I remember most are the ones that don’t come even remotely close to resembling a Norman Rockwell scene, with a mother in an apron placing a golden bird in front of a sweater-vested father eagerly wielding a carving knife in one hand and serving fork in the other while an excited, beaming family looks on with anticipation. Continue reading

FOMO

FOMO.

I saw this acronym recently and didn’t know what it meant, but from the context of what I was reading it seemed as if it’s commonly used now. I looked it up and found that it means “Fear Of Missing Out”.

Fear of missing out. I can understand that – who wants to be left out? The picture that springs into my head is that of a youth standing on the sidelines of a gym, waiting to be picked for a team and dreading the possibility that they’ll be the last one chosen, or, even worse, not chosen at all. Continue reading

I Got You Babe

“I got you, babe…”

There aren’t a lot of movies I can watch over and over, but Groundhog Day is near the top of a very short list of ones that I can. Which is silly, of course, because a core component of the movie is that the same things repeat over and over and over.

I’ve been thinking about the movie quite a bit this past week. Continue reading

Homework

A few nights ago I was helping my son with his math homework. It had a lot of fractions and word problems and he was really struggling with it. The frustration was building and it was beginning to boil over into tears, anger and expressions of “I’ll never get this -maybe I’m just dumb!” and “It’s not fair – why is my teacher being so mean?”. As we worked through it I could hear underneath all of that a message of “maybe I’m just not good enough” and a sense of remorse for not being able to get past the emotions and just focus on the task. I’ve been on this planet long enough to know that this is nothing unusual – I can recall having many similar episodes when I was in school as a boy, particularly with algebra or chemistry homework. Continue reading

Prepared

I was prepared.

In 1992, when I was 24 years old, I could take apart, reassemble and do a function check on a Colt M1911A1 .45 caliber pistol in less than 45 seconds.

I was prepared.

I had qualified as an Expert shot every time I went to the range with the Army, even knocking down my targets while wearing a gas mask. When I pointed a pistol at targets they went down. Continue reading

Good News

When I was a young boy we went to a Methodist church in Phoenix, Arizona every Sunday. And although we were there Sunday after Sunday, pretty much every week, without exception, I can’t tell you with any certainty anything the minister ever said except for a joke he told one day:

“What do you get when you cross a Methodist with a Jehovah’s Witness?” Continue reading

Seeds of Caring

One of my earliest memories is of my father taking me out of class early one afternoon. He had our Y Indian Guides gear with him and we drove over to the newspaper building in downtown Anchorage where someone stood me up on a chair in front of a wood-paneled wall and took our picture. If I ever knew why we did this I don’t remember it now, but I remember the day well because it’s one of only a few times I can recall he and I doing something where it was just the two of us. I have three older brothers, so most events were group events. I remember this day well, though: I remember the dark striped wood paneling; I remember him laughing and smiling; I remember feeling so important and practically famous to be in the newspaper. Continue reading

Silent Night

When I think of the Christmases of my youth there are few presents I can remember receiving. A gallon of pickles when I was about 10 or 11, because I really loved pickles. A remote controlled airplane that I crashed and destroyed on the playground of my elementary school on its first flight. An electric typewriter, when I was 15 or 16, which I learned to type on while listening to a cassette tape of Sting singing “We Work the Black Seam Together”. To this day, if I’m really in the groove, I type to the tempo of that song. Continue reading

Cathedral

When I was 10 or 11 years old my Uncle Frank gave me a book titled “Cathedral”.  It was an illustrated book, mainly, but the story that ran through it was about a fictional town in the 12th century that elected to build a new cathedral after their existing church had burned down.  In this age this was no small decision: a building as large and as expensive as a cathedral could take over 100 years to construct, meaning that those who initiated the project were highly unlikely to see the finished product.  What motivated them, then?  Certainly not personal glory or fortune, as those rewards would not come in their lifetimes.  Prestige for their town?  Perhaps, but even that boast could not be claimed for many, many years, if at all.  So just what would move a community to pitch in and undertake a difficult, costly goal with the payoff a century away? Continue reading