Friday, June 29, 2007
I just got back from two seminars in Albuquerque where I went through training to become a better speaker. For a guy who is much more comfortable behind the keyboard, this was a huge stretch for me. But after receiving some great instruction, and giving five presentations, I feel considerably better about communicating verbally.
We didn't have a lot of downtime, but I did take some time to admire the beautiful surroundings. Check out this view from my hotel room balcony:
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Back in 1988, a few of my friends decided to join the Navy Reserve. We'd been out of high school for four years at the time and I'm not sure how the conversation got started, but three of them signed up and headed off to boot camp.
That seems like a ridiculously long time ago.
Two of the guys decided not to re-enlist when they had a chance, but one has continued to re-enlist and he now has 19 years of service. His name is Jim and he was my best friend in high school. We played on our high school tennis team together. Then became drinking buddies. Then roommates. And then he got married and had children.
Jim got a call recently and he was informed that his division is going to Iraq. He's in the Seabee's, so presumably he'll be doing some sort of reconstruction there, but he doesn't really know and even if he did, he couldn't say. It's better that way.
Tonight his wife is having some of his friends over for a "Wish Jim Well" party. He leaves for training next week and since I'll be traveling next week, this is the last time I'll see him for a while. So, we'll spend a little time together. Reminisce about the good ole' days. And dream about the future.
But it'll be hard to see him go.
Families and friends all across the country have been enduring such separation for as long as we've been a nation. And now it's Jim's family's turn. And it's my turn. If you are so inclined, I'd appreciate it if you'd say a prayer for Jim.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
I'm headed out of town next week for a business trip to the beautiful state of New Mexico. I'm expecting to be quite busy preparing for the trip, so posting will be light for a while. I'll post as time allows, so check back, or sign up on the right hand side of the page to begin receiving updates in your e-mail box.
Monday, June 11, 2007
A few minutes later, several more got their courage up and they joined the others in another song. Finally, nearly everybody at the table was singing--some of whom were horribly off key, but the beautiful thing was, nobody seemed to care.
My 17 year-old niece commented about how nice it was to see elderly people so happy. And before you ask, this restaurant doesn't serve alcohol. So, it was just a bunch of friends getting together to either celebrate something, or maybe they just got together to celebrate life. I don't know.
But it was nice to see. And hear.
Friday, June 08, 2007
Some say that the devil is in the details. To some degree I understand what they are saying. The many small details involved in a process often are more complicated than originally expected. But, I tend to see life in the details.
Yesterday, I watched a baseball game in which a pitcher threw a sinker on a 1-2 count with a runner in scoring position during a close game and he got a strikeout. Knowing the small details of the game makes it much more enjoyable to me than it would be if I had no idea what pitch the pitcher threw or why he threw it in that situation. And it I didn't know the details, the pitcher and catcher would look like they were just playing catch.
Years ago, I went to see a concert and was blown away by the band's live performance. Part of the reason was because I knew a little about the band and I knew that a couple of the members were on a spiritual journey, as I was, and many of their lyrics, coupled with their passion, made for a magical evening of music.
But it seems to me that the only way you can ever get to the point of understanding the details is to start with a blur. You start watching baseball at a young age because your uncle does, or you start following a band because you really liked their mega-hit. As you continue the journey, the details become less muddied as you hear, learn, and digest new terms.
Eventually something clicks. You've been hearing about the way a two-seam fastball moves, but one day you finally see it for yourself and it makes all the sense in the world. So you start to read more about the subject and you learn more details. At the point, the details become the essence of your experience and you can't seem to get enough of them.
I love it when that happens.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
Thankfully, I'm paranoid on side streets because of many other near miss experiences, so I'm always ready to hit the breaks. I shudder to think of what would have happened if I hadn't been able to stop. I would have T-boned the woman's car, with the impact coming on the child's side.
The rest of the way home I thought about near misses. If I had dropped my niece off one second earlier, would the situation have turned out much worse? Or if I had dropped her off ten seconds earlier, I wouldn't even have had to hit the breaks because I would have been through the intersection by the time the woman approached it.
While I can't come close to fully comprehending it, I totally trust in God's providence. Sometimes that means car accidents happen and people are hurt or worse. Sometimes that means accidents are avoided. But none of that limits human responsibility. Life can change (or end) in an instant. And knowing that ought to make all of us a little more appreciative of each moment we do have.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Every time I hear about Reagan's writing legacy I marvel. He didn't mind writing his own speeches or radio broadcasts, and often did so. He also often answered his own mail. In 1981, he began a letter to a citizen this way, "You specified that you wanted to hear from me personally, so here I am." His legacy of personal letter writing is astounding.
He wrote enough letters to his wife Nancy to fill an entire book after his death. Another book, called Reagan: A Life in Letters, contains more than 1,000 of his personal letters from 1922 to 1994 to world leaders, citizens, journalists, pundits, and many others. Yet another book called Dear Americans: Letters from the Desk of Ronald Reagan contains the best of 3,500 personal letters that Reagan wrote while he was in the White House.
Makes you want to pull out an ink pen and start writing doesn't it? It sure has that affect on me.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
A week or so ago, I taught a writing class and during my presentation I used the phrase "little nuances." It wasn't a shameless plug for my blog. It just sort of slipped out. Then, a few days ago, I received an e-mail from a friend who said that a friend used the phrase in a conversation with her and she thought her friend was referring to this blog. How funny is that? I guess I have the corner on the "little nuances" market, huh?
The phrase encompasses the essence of what I wanted to discuss on this blog when I first started it. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, the word "nuance" means; 1: a subtle distinction or variation, 2: a subtle quality, or 3: sensibility to, awareness of, or ability to express delicate shadings (as of meaning, feeling, or value).
In some ways, I hope this blog falls into all three definitions. I love digging deeper into music, movies, books, and seemingly routine events. When I come up with something that means something to me, I tell you about it, hoping that somehow you'll be able to relate to my experiences.
You might think that the term "little nuances" is redundant since nuances are by definition subtle, but I chose the title purposefully with the intention of going deeper than even the nuances of life. I want to dig into the crevices of the nuances and examine them. I'm not sure I pull it off very often, but that's my aim.
Monday, June 04, 2007
Here's the video version if you're interested in watching it:
This song is filled with hope and it doesn't qualify actions. I like that. Here's one verse from the song:
"You could chase a dream
That seems so out of reach
And you know it might not ever come your way
Dream it anyway?"
If you haven't heard the song, listen to it. Get inspired. I love the idea of doing something "anyway"--against all odds, even when you're convinced that it'll never amount to anything.
In fact, another verse from the song goes like this:
"You can pour your soul out singin'
A song you believe in
That tomorrow they'll forget you ever sang
Sing it anyway"
What would happen if all of us sang the songs that we really wanted to sing without regard for how they were received? For you it might be writing a novel, playing sports at a competitive level, or starting a business. Whatever it is, forget about the results (those aren't really up to you anyway), and dive in with both feet.
Friday, June 01, 2007
Thankfully, it’s just as easy to find people who do care.
Just this past weekend, Casey Mears, a NASCAR driver who has been on the Nextel Cup circuit for four years, won his first race. After Mears crossed the finished line, all he could do was scream. He did it over and over again. He’d been chasing a goal for so long that his emotions got the best of him—and it was a beautiful thing to witness. Competitors and teammates came over and hugged him and Mears just let the tears flow.
My friends and I often go to a restaurant on Friday nights to watch baseball. Truthfully, my opinion of the restaurant isn’t the highest. They don’t have HDTV. Sometimes the place is a little dirtier than I’d like. They have a high turnover when it comes to their wait-staff and the new people the hire are often clueless. But the place has two or three waitresses who understand what it means to serve people. They aren’t afraid of small talk, they refill drinks quickly, and they make it a pleasant experience. And they are always quick to open the doors for my oldest niece, who is in a wheelchair, when I take her there. So, because a couple of people care, I’m willing to endure the other stuff I don’t like.
Ever since I found my current mechanic, I take my car to him every time something is wrong with it. Sometimes it costs me a lot of money, like the time my air conditioner went out. Other times, he doesn’t charge me a penny because he says he can’t find anything wrong. Per his recommendation, I’ve been using pure synthetic oil because it keeps the engine cooler than regular oil and my car burns a ton of oil. Using synthetic oil is at least double and closer to triple the cost, but since he said I needed it, I was willing to pay for it. Recently, I took my car in for an oil change and after examining my engine he said that he doesn’t think I need to use synthetic oil any more because it’s burning just as quickly as regular oil does. How many mechanics would do that? He cares and as a result, he has my business.
Such concern for others doesn’t just apply to the business world. I have some friends who genuinely listen to me when I have concerns. They follow up our conversations with e-mails or phone calls to see how things are going. Hopefully, they can say the same about me.
Life is too short to live in a state of indifference. Whether at work, play, or just normal everyday routines, live like you mean it. Others will notice.