All of life is a journey; which paths we take, what we look back on, and what we look forward to is up to us. We determine our destination, what kind of road we will take to get there, and how happy we are when we get there.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The car wash is not the tunnel of love

The car wash. Everyone has been to one. Some have described it as what it may sound like inside a maraca, others a time saver, some a way of going green. But what is it really? A tunnel of water, and don't ever forget it. It has been awhile since my last trip through the car wash. I went this weekend and at first was filled with anxiousness and a slight hesitation. Why on earth would that be? Let me tell you, my last trip through went a little like this...

I had my wonderful old car named Abe. It was 25 years old, solid steel and as big as a boat (it had the turning radius of one as well). I named it Abe because due to its age, long trips were not in his future. He was a purely A to B car, thus Abe was born. One Saturday morning I decided I was going to be extra productive. I had a list of errands to run, and planned out the trip in a large circle, as to end at home and not waste time or fuel. The errands were ran without a hitch. The final two being a hair trim and the car wash. I went to a hair school, being the poor college student I was, and the young girl was ecstatic. She loved curly hair and asked to style it. Style it she did, I looked ready to accept a country music award it was so big. Almost six inches high, I left planning on taming it at home. One last stop, the car wash. I cleaned and vacuumed and readied my change. I went in and sat as the car got covered in soap and the power sprayer came to life. As soon as the sprayer hit the driver's window it happened, water pouring into the car. With a newly empty car, there was nothing to keep the water at bay. My mind jumped into action, was the window open a crack...nope. Perhaps the door was not shut tight enough. Before the next attack I seized what I thought was the window of opportunity. With the spray behind me, I flung open the door to slam it shut only to realize there was also an undercarriage cleaning going on. With a very clean left side of my body I slammed the door and awaited my fate. The final spray came towards me but alas, the water was not kept from assaulting me one last time. Dejected and soaked I exited this tunnel of hydro-horror and defeat to come home to an apartment full of girls there to witness my now jekyll and hyde appearance. My right half, still tall and proud, a mess of curls, and my left, resembling a drown rat waiting to be hung on the clothing line. Needless to say, no matter what car, how firm the seal on the door or how determined the weather stripping, there will always be a sham wow stashed somewhere in arms reach.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How to save a life

When I began this blog, I created it with the intention of writing predominately of the funny, out of sort, whacky kind of moments that I imagined made up small town life. Although some have been exactly that, many have been born of trial or difficulty and have presented an opportunity to share introspection and growth. This is also one such post. Perhaps during my time in Small Town X, I am supposed to learn more about life, love and loss. About the depth of human nature, and the strength that can only be found in times of hardship. Last week a man I worked with in my former life died unexpectedly. He was a good man, and had touched many lives, mine included. I had a weekend full of tender mercies. For those who may not have heard this term before, tender mercies include those experiences or opportunities that were given to me not by chance or circumstance, but rather a gift from a source far greater than myself. I had left my new small town home to visit what now qualifies as the "big city". I was in for a conference, but two miraculous events took place during my stay. My godson was born the morning after I arrived, and the funeral/memorial service for this man was the morning before I left. This weekend I literally experienced life come full circle. Just as one had left this mortal existence, another entered. But what I wanted to share came from the lesson I learned at the memorial.

This was one of the most touching services I have ever attended. It was filled with co-workers, family, friends and many that were all of those combined. This man's life had been anything but easy. Upon first meeting him, he appeared to many as frightening or at the least intimidating. He was tall in stature, with tattoos covering much of his skin. But what was emphasized continuously by all that shared their love for this man, was that more than being tall in stature, he was great in character. To the stranger he may have appeared quiet or reserved. But within that unassuming exterior came wisdom and love that extended to all he came across. There were no requirements to earn this man's affection, he freely offered up all he had to those around him. To a woman struggling with an abusive partner, he expressed respect and love. He offered quiet reminders of her worth and substance. He strengthened and lifted her. To a man literally drowning in a turbulent sea, he without hesitation risked personal safety to save him. The amazing part is that by being who he was he saved many of us. Perhaps not by swimming and pulling us out of treacherous waters, but by being compassionate, kind, earnestly listening and being a constant beacon of the good all humanity has to offer. There is no doubt that he knew what was required to save lives, he did it every moment he lived. And now those lessons and his example live on in each one of us. He will be greatly missed and never forgotten. This could not have been made more evident than by a poem written by of his co-workers and friends:

Don't think of him as gone away

His journey's just begun

Life holds so many facets

This earth is only one

Just think of him as resting

From the sorrows and the tears

In a place of warmth and comfort

Where there are no days and years

Think how he must be wishing

That we could know today

How nothing but our sadness

Can really pass away

And think of him as living

In the hearts of those he touched

For nothing loved is ever lost

And he was loved so much


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Perception is Everything

Things are not always as they seem. However, on an almost daily basis we make snap judgments. We evaluate situations and make rash decisions based on little information. This is a necessity, but so often we are incorrect in our assumptions. This little example offers a humorous story to illustrate this conundrum. We have a volunteer at my work that comes in on a regular basis. He is one of the culprits of the previously blogged about pranks. He enjoys finding funny, unusual hats and apparel and models them while working. This particular day he had discovered a princess Cinderella tiara which he wore with pride while assisting customers. An older woman came back asking for assistance with some beds. As he offered his services she asked each of four women in the office if we had dressed him this morning, to which we replied, no mam. He gladly helped her and after finishing came back laughing hysterically. When I inquired into what was so funny, he told me that he had just been asked the most hilarious question. As the older woman walked away she asked him, "So what does he look like?" Confused he asked her to repeat the question. "So what does he look like?" As understanding came to the surface, he blushed and responded, "Actually I am married to a beautiful young woman." Slightly stunned and staring at the tiara she politely walked away.

This got me thinking about how often we make rash judgments in our daily lives. We are given small amounts of information, experience or knowledge and from that draw our own conclusions. How can this be changed? Here is my best guess, and I say guess because that is the most I can offer. Perhaps rather than comparing ourselves to others in the way we interact and treat those around us, we can continually strive to be better versions of ourselves. Cut out the judgment altogether. This quote states it far better than I can, "Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself." Although this was a funny story that brought laughs and giggles throughout the day, it was a lesson for me. A lesson about what kinds of conclusions I draw about the people around me, and how inaccurate they can be. I will fail and fail again, but I think the key will be to never stop trying.