Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

19 October 2008

Nice Day

I am, I suppose, a “morning person.” I hate it, but what can you do? Even when I try, I cannot sleep late. And this morning I was up before dawn, which at this time of year isn’t until about seven o’clock anyway. So this morning it was well before dawn. And when I wake up, I cannot just stay in bed, I have to get up.

Most mornings I’m just up and out, with no breakfast to speak of but maybe a cup of coffee on the fly. Sundays are different. On Sunday I have this ritual. I go out and get the paper. We don’t get the New York Times here, so I have to make do with its southern equivalent, the Pensacola News Journal or as we call it here, “the mullet wrapper.” Then I come home and fix myself a nice big breakfast, over which I’ll linger with the paper until blasted off my ass by whatever other pressing events of the day I cannot defer any longer. Sometimes I can drag Sunday “breakfast” out until well after noon.

It’s finally fall here in the Florida Panhandle. Mornings are crisp and cool. I’m not a fan of cold weather, but even I have to admit that it’s pleasant. And it was wonderful being out so early on what was shaping up to be a magnificently beautiful day.

I’d forgotten to get eggs on my last trip to the grocery store, so I did a quick run by McDonalds after getting the paper. I know, I know…you don’t have to tell me. But I really don’t eat fast-food that often. I can splurge on Sunday.

I’m always dismayed when I do go into fast-food “restaurants.” It seems as if we’re becoming a rude society full of impatient, intolerant, grumpy people. The cashiers at these places don’t even say “Good morning,” anymore, and the customer just starts off by blurting out his order, as if speaking to a robot, not a human. My sister Elizabeth said it best: “We don’t just want fast-food – we want instantaneous food!”

When my turn came, the girl behind the counter barely looked up from her register and said, “What would you like?”

“Well, a greeting, to start off with,” I said in mock-seriousness. I am a stickler for customer service. There was an awkward pause as the look on her face became cross between confusion and nervousness – like, “Uh-oh, who/what am I dealing with now?” Then I smiled at her and chuckled, “Good morning!” in a way that slowed the process down just a bit. Relaxing and realizing what was up, she smiled back and we exchanged pleasantries in a way that seems to be becoming a lost art. When I left, she smiled genuinely at me and gave me a cheerful, “Have a nice day!” There is no doubt about that: I said I would if she would. I left, happy with my Egg McMuffin, and she was left, perhaps only temporarily, in a slightly better mood than before. Maybe.

Now, I know this sounds like the self-serving bullshit of an artificially happy moron. But it’s not. It costs absolutely nothing...zero...zilch…nada...to brighten someone’s day. The tragedy is that so few people seem to even try anymore. Just the opposite, in fact, most people seem bent on getting you in as bad a mood as they are. Bad moods are contagious. Sometimes it's far more easy to put someone in a bad mood than to lift them up.

Life is hard – I know that. We struggle along in our little worlds, dealing with all of the various pressures and tensions and worries, just trying to get through the day ourselves without having a nervous breakdown. It’s hard enough to keep a happy thought, much less convey one to others.

But life is not hard for me now that I’ve discovered The Secret. Oh, life has been hard in the past, but never will be again. I will never let it be. See, that is The Secret. Being happy is a choice. When you wake up each day you have a choice. You can either be happy or unhappy. You can let life get you down – or not. You can be so self-absorbed in your own troubles and travails that you forget that everyone else out there is going through the same thing. Or… Or you can realize that we’re all in this together…that for society to succeed (and thrive) we must all work together for the common good, even when things are not going great for you, personally.

I'm not saying that you should be a Pollyanna, or be fake about it or just pretend things are going great when they're not. Certainly, not everyone's life is always rosy. It's more about our reaction to circumstances and how that reaction is up to us.

Perhaps the most profound thing I’ve ever read in my whole life were four simple words written by Rick Warren, Pastor of the Saddleback Church (and moderator of the first 2008 presidential “debate”). The words open the first chapter of his book, “The Purpose Driven Life.”

It’s not about you.

What? My life isn’t about me? Nope. I’ve come to realize that it’s not. Neither is yours. I know so many people for whom, upon hearing virtually anything, their first automatic thought is, “How does this affect me?” But we must get through that – put aside our ego and ask ourselves, “How does this affect you?” That’s the tough part. Does it work for me 100% of the time? Of course not, I am human after all. But I try.

This post sure went astray. I was going to write about a lot of things: Flying nervous, first-time passengers, which I did yesterday; Flying at night, which I also had to do yesterday (and which I’ve come to dislike intensely); Politics; Joe the (Fake) Plumber…but driving to McDonalds this morning changed all that.

I read the paper quickly – not a lot of news today – and set the crossword puzzles aside (I’ll do ‘em later) to sit down at the computer (still the old laptop but it may get replaced today) to write. The morning is nearly gone. Time’s a-wasting and it’s too beautiful a day to squander. So I’m going out, and hope you do/did the same. Enjoy this day…enjoy every day, make the best of it, treat it like a gift. And if, in your comings and goings today – or any day - you encounter other people, even if it’s just a convenience store clerk, try to make them smile. It won’t even cost you one dime of your hard-earned money, and it’s worth thousands of times more.

Have a nice day!


Redlefty said...

Amen, bro!

I think much of it extends from our perspective of God. Some people, especially 21st Century Christians in the Western world, think that the entire purpose of creation of for God's glorification. In other words, God made it for himself, which would make him ultimately self-focused. Jesus seems to show the opposite -- a complete other-oriented lifestyle.

Good for you for snapping someone out of commerce autopilot today.

Anonymous said...

Hey Bob, time to expand your sources beyond Pensicola News Journal and, what? The NY Times? :-)

Joe *the fake * plumber. I am LOL here!

Ok, I've regained my composure. What about Obama's response of *spreading the wealth*?


Bob said...

Great words, Bob. It is absolutely, unequivocally NOT about me!


Bob said...

kman, Obama probably dearly regrets the "spreading the wealth" remark. Instead of trying to crawfish, he should have just been honest and said what he's always said: That those who make *more* than $250,000 a year will see a "small" (3% or so) tax increase. But at the time, Obama thought "Joe the Plumber" was sincere, and not just ambushing him for...whatever were Wurzelbacher's reasons.

Anonymous said...

A blue collar worker *AMBUSHING* a presidential candidate?

More like a moment where a real life person finally has had the opportunity to penetrate through the main stream media's shield of protection for this charmed campaign of Obama.

Bob, if a regular joe can ambush and throw off Obama so profoundly, please explain your confidence with Obama in charge of dealing with Iran, North Korea, Russia, etc... surely not blue-collar mentality. Even Biden has confirmed this issue.


Bob said...

(Long sigh) Oh, kman...listen, the world is not going to end if/when Obama becomes president. He's not Satan. And you know what? I don't really care all that much. I mean, obviously not as much as you. I could vote for McCain; I could vote for Obama.

But here's the thing: Bush has had eight years to do...whatever it was he had in mind. He leaves office as one of the worst presidents in my lifetime, and perhaps one of the worst ones ever. On that basis alone I think we should give the Democrat a try. (Let's not even talk about what Bush has done to our Constitution.)

If Obama is awful...if he keeps us here in hell in the handbasket, we'll vote him out and try someone else.

Dontcha love American politics?

Anonymous said...

Why bring up Bush?

Do you want me to bring up Carter? I think not.

Satan?! Hmmmm... no comment.

You don't care that much? Then why all the political blog posts?

I mentioned before, I'm not thrilled with either candidate. I would chose Romney or Hillary over both of these 2.

Obama is clearly pushing socialism. I like capitalism. Ask your boss what he thinks.

'nuff said.


Bob said...

Why all the political posts? Oh, you mean like this one? Funny, I thought with *this post* I'd deliberately NOT talk about politics. But since you brought it up...

While I'm certainly no expert on politics, I'm fascinated by the process, is why I write about it. I'm fascinated by the packaging and all the mixed messages and the way some people get so worked up over one candidate or another. I've tried to keep this fairly neutral, which is impossible of course.

Why bring up Bush? Because the Republican party has had their way with the country for the last eight years. Do I think McCain will just be more of the same of Bush? You betcha! And you know what? I'm ready to say, "Enough!"

But I think that more people in the country are like me than you: We could vote for either guy. To say that Obama is "pushing socialism" and suggest that he is abandoning capitalism is a little much, in my opinion. You can have your extreme views, kman, just don't expect much sympathy or agreement from me. You sound pretty glum, man. I hope you're not so depressed after this election that it forces you to leave the country.

P.S. My boss believes he is going to be okay whichever guy gets elected.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit, Bob, the main reason for my participating in talking politics on your blog was to help surface your true feelings about this election ... and I have been totally successful. :-)

"I could vote for McCain; I could vote for Obama." (Bob)

"Do I think McCain will just be more of the same of Bush? You betcha! And you know what? I'm ready to say, "Enough!" (Bob)

LOL!! OK, OK, I've regained my composure.

For what it's worth, I really enjoy your helicopter stories.


Bob said...

I wish I could say the same about your comments. kman, if your deep, burning desire was to ferret out who I'm going to vote for, you could have simply asked. I wasn't trying to hide anything, but rather was just trying to make those posts not about that and speak to the general process. But I guess some things matter more to some people than others. I hope it was at least fun for you.

The truth is, in other circumstances I *could* just as easily vote for McCain. I think he's an okay guy who would make a good president. But this time around he's a guy who's going to lose based not so much on his own record but what the Republican party in general has done to the country. Like Curly, he's a victim of soycumstance. For that, I feel badly for him, because this is quite obviously his last shot at it. I'm sure that he, like Eisenhower before him, wanted to cap off his long and illustrious career by serving as president. He actually deserved it last time, in '04. You remember last time, when the Republican party pulled the rug out from under him?

Okay, you've played your little game and "outed" me as an Obama voter. I hope you're happy. But like I said, you could've saved yourself the trouble.

Anonymous said...

No hard feelings, I hope, Bob.

I pull no punches when I say I think Obama is bad news. And no, I won't get depressed if he gets elected cuz our country will fix his mess just like any other disaster we've faced in the past. ;-)

I suppose it's just not easy for one to admit they're voting for Obama. Then again, I can understand why. JUST KIDDING!

Hey, would you expect anything else from a NY'er?


Guanaja Sharon said...

After reading your blog I decided I should take your words to mind and wanted to write and thank you for getting me back on track.
Then I checked the comments - how did everyone get so far off track to talk politics? I mean, politics are one of the things that make people snappy, uptight, argumentative, etc.
I have noted in Honduras that small talk is not a lost art. When you call someone, you are considered rude if you just say Hi and then start in with whatever you wanted to talk about. Here, you have to go through the whole "how are you" "how's things going" "how's the family" routine before getting down to business and sound like you are enjoying the casual conversation! I like it - I like someone making small talk before we reach the "subject" and if, in doing so, we brighten up each others day or educate them a little, so be it.
A smile is so easy to give and gives so much.

Bob Barbanes said...

I'm not sure what it is, Sharon. I guess some people just get obsessed about things and need to sidetrack every discussion. Feh- what can you do?

When I lived in St. Thomas, the locals considered it extremely rude if you did not start the conversation with a personal greeting of some sort. It never ceases to amaze me how we Americans have devolved to a point where people don't even expect any such thing. We're losing the human element. And I don't like it one bit.