Three Seconds of Life

I want to tell you a story. Well, it’s not really a story, but a moment in life, a few minutes of a day that was pretty much like any other day, except for these few minutes. But aren’t these moments what stories are made of? Aren’t these moments the times that we recall later in life, the stories we tell people? Moments like this are exactly what stories are made of.

It was a wet day. Gray outside. Rain coming in fits and starts. Just two days earlier it had been in the upper seventies. Pollen dusted most outside surfaces. People had been out and about enjoying the beautiful weather. But, like I said, that had been two days earlier. On this day it was in the mid-forties, rainy and windy. I’m not sure that really plays into the moment, but it might have. I’ll let you decide.

The events took place after a routine morning of stretching, coffee, getting ready for work, and going to that job I got ready for. 

I went to the post office, something I do from time to time when there is no one else there to do it. I had my raincoat on and I walked the two blocks there only getting rained on a little. At the post office I said good morning to Mrs. Cathy and we exchanged about thirty seconds worth of pleasantries. We gave our “Have a good days” and I left. The rain had picked up by then and I flipped my hood up.

Normally, I will make a left at the corner and walk along the sidewalk until I reached the next corner, where I cross the many lanes of traffic one way, then the many lanes of traffic the other way. I then walk the half block to the backside of the building I work in. It’s pretty simple and usually takes about ten minutes round trip. 

This day should have been no different.

I reached the corner of the block and stopped. Though I had the little white walkie man on the sign and the light was red for cars traveling in that direction, I reached the corner the same time as a car did. It was a burgundy Toyota, nothing new but certainly not something older than ten years. It had slowed a little faster than I liked and came to a stop halfway in the crosswalk. I waited for a couple of seconds to see if the person driving was going to make a right turn, even though I had the right of way. When the car did not go, I stepped into the road and started to round the front of the car. 

That is when things went south. 

I glanced at the car when i was about halfway by it. It lurched forward. Time did not stand still but it slowed down considerably like in the movies or a good book. There was no way to avoid what happened next. I didn’t jump but somehow ‘lifted’ myself a little. The car struck my left knee. I tensed up and lowered my elbow and shoulder as I fell onto the car’s hood. My elbow struck first, then my shoulder. I rolled to my right and off the car, landing on my right foot, then my left. Then I took a step backward.

The entire incident was maybe three seconds, but they could have been far more devastating than what they were. 

I was shocked.

I was stunned.

I was pissed.

I honestly believe the person in the car had struck me on purpose. I thought for a second there that the person had gotten angry that I decided to cross at the crosswalk when I had the light and drove into me on purpose. I imagined this angry guy with a scowl on his face and wearing a wife beater sitting behind the wheel and cursing me for having the balls to cross when I had the right of way. Or maybe he was just impatient and thought I was walking too slowly. I didn’t know.

I held my arms out at my side and yelled, “What the heck are you doing?” Yes, I said heck and not any of the other words that probably could have come out of my mouth. 

I stood in the road, mail rubber banded together in my left hand, and stared at the car for maybe ten seconds. When the driver didn’t open the door I thought, “They’re going to run.” I reached into my back pocket and pulled out my phone, certain I was going to have to take a picture of a fleeing vehicle’s license plate. 

During all of this, the light turned green. I stepped out of the road, my phone in hand and watched the burgundy Toyota. I flexed my left knee, rotated my shoulder and bent my elbow several times to make sure I was okay. Thankfully, there was no immediate notice of injury. 

The light turned red and the car had not moved. The hazard lights were now on and blinking their orange warnings. Then the door opened, and sitting in the car was not some crazed guy wearing a wife beater, but a woman who was possibly eighty or so (and if not, she missed a good chance to be). Her hands were shaking and she was crying—I’m talking ugly crying with tears and her face scrunched up and snot dribbling from her nose like a sniffly three-year-old. 

“Oh my God, Oh My God. I am so sorry.” She said this over and over again. 

Suddenly, I felt like crap standing there on the side of the road. I had yelled, not at the woman, but at my perception of who had to be driving that car. But that wasn’t who was there. Instead there she was, crying—sobbing—and shaking like a leaf in the wind. She was pale and constantly saying “I’m sorry.”

Right then, I had a choice. I could be a jerk and be rude to her or I could console her. Though it should have been the other way around—after all, I was the one hit by the car—I chose to console her. I squatted down in her doorway and we talked. Well, that’s not quite accurate. I talked, she cried and said she was sorry over and over again. 

As I squatted in her door trying to calm her down, I discovered there had been a witness. It turns out, a man who was maybe my age or a little younger, had seen the incident. He walks by the car where I am with this distraught woman and he said to me, “You need to call the cops.” He didn’t asks if either of us were okay. He just saw me do a slow motion Dukes of Hazzard style roll off the hood of a car and all he could say was, “You need to call the cops.” And it wasn’t just what he said, but how he said it, as if he couldn’t see the crying woman. In his eyes, I was the victim and she was the criminal. This was an opportunity for this guy to step in and be somewhat of a hero. Instead, well … you can see what I think of him two sentences from now.

Yes, I got pissed a second time. 

I turned to him and in my amazing wisdom, I said, “You don’t need to be a d*ck.”

It was his turn to have a shocked look on his face. I continued. “If you’re not going to help the situation, stay out of it.” He said something, but I don’t know what it was. He did, however, walk away. 

I turned my attention back to the woman. I learned a couple of things from her: 1) she parks in the garage not thirty yards away from where we were, 2) she works in the building we currently were in front of, and 3) she had just found out her sister was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The last of those three things told me her mind was elsewhere. She had said, multiple times, she had not seen me. She looked left then right and didn’t see me. Of course she didn’t. Her mind was on her sister—her terminally ill sister. 

With her still crying, I knew right then she was having a far more difficult go of things. Her hitting me was the straw that broke the floodgates open. It was my turn to ask if she was okay. She was not. I knew that. We sat and talked as cars went by, some honking because they were impatient and we were an inconvenience to them. 

Finally, after about fifteen minutes of trying to calm her down, she said she was sorry one last time. I reached over and took one of her shaking hands and said, “Ma’am, don’t say you’re sorry again. You’ve said it forty times. I forgive you. I am okay. Okay?”

I held her hand for probably thirty seconds. One thing I have learned in life is the importance of the human touch. The human touch is personal. It can have a calming effect or a damaging one. This is why hugs in hard times are so important and often lead to people letting their guards down long enough to get a good cry out. This is why physical or sexual abuse is so damaging, because it should never happen and it’s a personal attack on our bodies (and psyches). It can comfort in a time of stress. 

After getting assurance she was finally calm enough to drive the thirty yards to the parking garage, I stood, closed her door and backed out of the road. I watched her make the turn and drive away. 

As I made my way back to the office, this lady was on my mind. I had yelled at her after she hit me. I think it was a natural reaction, but I can’t help but believe that part of the reason she didn’t open her door right away is because of my dramatic display of anger and she was, possibly, scared of me. I felt terrible about that. 

When I arrived back at the office, most of my co-workers were already there. I walked in and one of them looked at me and said something, which I don’t really recall now. 

My response? “If you get hit by a car, do you get to go home?”

It was a tension joke all the way. It was at that moment that it sunk in: I had been hit by a car. Three seconds of my life could have ended much worse than it did. Three seconds either way and this story is different—or maybe not told at all. 

But there’s more to this than those three seconds. There were choices made. I had a choice: call the police and file a police report or look at this woman with compassion and console her. I chose to console her. I chose to look at someone—a complete stranger—as a human being, not as someone who struck me with their car, not as someone I could sue and get money from, not as someone who was negligent and needed to be punished. I looked at her like I would my grandmother, and I hurt for her. I can only imagine what went through her head as she sat in her car: “I could have killed him.” Yeah, that might have been one of the thoughts she had. I can only imagine.

I chose compassion over anger. I chose not to pursue a legal course of action. I chose to forgive and go on with my life. Unlike the guy who passed us and didn’t offer help or even ask if we were okay, I chose to not make this woman’s life any harder. 

There are moments in life where you can do the right thing or the thing you want to do or even the thing everyone else would do. Those are the moments that define you as a person, they show you—and the world—the type of character you have. Sometimes the right thing is easier to do than you think. It’s called having a heart and caring. 

A moment in life—three seconds—and things could have been different in a worse way. This is life. This is the way life happens and life is the very heart of every story.

Until we meet again, my friends, be kind to one another.

A.J. 

Courage, the Cowardly Lion Said

There is a scene in the movie The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey, where Gandalf finds a small sword in a cave.  He leaves the cave and gives it to Bilbo Baggins.  If you’ve seen the movie, you probably know what happened next.  If you haven’t, it’s okay.  You don’t need to have seen it to get what Gandalf tells Bilbo a few seconds later.  You don’t even have to know what the movie is about to understand the context of what Gandalf says.

To preface the statement, Bilbo tells Gandalf he had never used a sword in his life, and Gandalf tells him he hopes he never has to and (here’s the statement):

“True courage is about knowing, not when to take a life, but when to spare one.”

I’m not going to tell you what happens, but if you’ve never seen the movie, that particular line comes into play later.

That leads me to my topic today.  I want to talk about courage and compassion for a minute.

True courage.  It takes courage to be a soldier in any military, especially during times of war, which seem to be never ending.  It takes courage to be a firefighter, especially when you have to run into a burning building to save someone.  It takes courage to face something you are afraid of.  Afraid of heights?  Get on a rollercoaster or look over the edge of a high rise building or a mountain.  It takes courage to step outside your comfort zone and do something you’ve never done.  It takes courage to ask that pretty little girl out to the prom knowing she might say no.

It takes courage to be who you are.

The next few lines of what I am about to write may or may not offend some folks, but I’m going to say them anyway.  If you will, just stick with me through the next few lines, and do it with an open mind.

In today’s world it takes courage to be different.  Think I’m wrong?  How many people have come out as gay or lesbian and immediately been scorned by their family or friends or co-workers or local religious group?

How many people have had a differing opinion than those around them and immediately been threatened with hateful words or deeds?  You want an example?  Okay, here you go:

Bruce Jenner, a.k.a. Caitlyn Jenner.  I’m going to be honest with you here.  I have no clue what’s going through his/her mind.  I don’t understand what made him choose to go from being a man to being a woman.  I don’t know.  And here is where I will get completely honest with you:  I don’t care.  What he/she has done is really none of my business.  It doesn’t have a direct effect on my life or my children’s lives.  What he chose to do is between himself, his psyche and his God.  It has nothing to do with me. Do you know what that means?  My opinion on the matter, well, it doesn’t matter.  And it shouldn’t.  As I said up a few sentences, I don’t care what he does.  It is his life and the only person/people this really effects is him and his family.  End of story.

You wanted an example.  I gave you one.

Here’s what I do know:  people are quick to criticize others.  They are quick to point out everything they have done (or are doing) wrong.  They are quick to try and change those they feel are doing all these wrong things.  They are quick to judge.  Do you know how many times I’ve heard otherwise good people make comments like ‘that person’s going to hell’ or ‘this country’s going to hell in a handbasket’?  Maybe it is, but does it do any good for someone to criticize others for things they have done that do not affect the person doing the criticizing?  I don’t think so.

People are critical because they don’t understand a person’s motives or a situation.  They don’t know what’s going through someone’s head when they decide to do something.

Okay, I guess it’s time to anger some folks.  Criticizing something or someone because you don’t understand it or them is weak and narrow-minded.

If you haven’t clicked off the page, yet, I appreciate it.

The human mind is a very defensive thing.  When it doesn’t understand something, it makes excuses for not trying to understand it.  It allows the fear mechanism to kick in.  I’ve stated it here before, but F.E.A.R. stands for False Evidence Appearing Real.  I learned that a few years ago at work.  (It’s a long story I won’t go into now.  If you want to know about it, drop me a line and I’ll explain to you where I got it from.)  When our defenses kick in we are quick to judge, to react, and to criticize.  Sometimes that leads us to talking bad about people.  Other times the defenses are so strong that we would rather break someone down, cuss at them, lie about them, beat them or bend the truth to fit out needs.  We’ve seen it happen a lot over the last few years.

Fear makes people do stupid things.  We’ve seen all the horror movies and the display of stupidity that takes place in most of them.  Funny thing about real life, sometimes the movies aren’t too far off.  Fear is a critical part of our psyche.  If we fear something we will get away from it and avoid it as much as we possibly can.  I am absolutely terrified of snakes, so I stay away from them.  If I see one in the woods, I back away slowly while keeping it in sight.

A buddy of mine used to have a couple of snakes and he went to take one of them out of its cage and asked me if I wanted to hold it.

‘If you want that thing to stay alive, you might want to put it back in its cage.’

I was not kidding.  It would have been very bad for me, the snake and my friend if he wouldn’t have put it back in its cage.

On the other hand, if we don’t run from the thing that scares us, we attack it, which I mentioned several ways how above.  Criticism and hatred are two of the biggest ways to attack someone you don’t like or understand.

What is the opposite of Fear?  I believe it is Courage.

Courage.  It’s what the cowardly lion wanted in The Wizard of Oz.  It’s what we all want.

It takes courage to be different.  Even more so, it takes courage to defend someone different than you, even if everyone else disagrees with you.  It takes courage to show compassion to someone who wouldn’t show you the same compassion.  It takes courage to do the right thing.  In this day and age, in the world we live in, very few people want to do the right thing.  They want to do their thing.  If it can benefit them, even if it’s not necessarily right or fair, then there’s a chance people will do it.  Like I said, it takes courage to do the right thing.  None of us are always courageous in our decision making.  None.  Of.  Us.

Let’s go back to that quote from The Hobbit and let’s change it up a little.

“Courage is knowing, not when to criticize others, but when to show compassion to them.”

Compassion is concern for others.  It’s helping someone shorter than you reach something on the top shelf.  It’s helping someone struggling to carry something heavy by taking part of the load.  It’s seeing a need and trying to address it, but without stipulations.  None of the ‘I’ll do this, but you have to do this’ nonsense.  No, that’s not compassion.  Compassion comes with no strings attached.  It’s a genuine feeling of concern for someone to the point that you want to help them without expecting anything else in return.  It’s a woman giving a young couple 20 bucks so they can buy a kiddie pool for their young son because they couldn’t afford to do it themselves.

Compassion.  There’s not enough of it in this world.  There needs to be more.  Much, much more.  Courage.  The cowardly lion wanted it, but it wasn’t given to him.  He developed it when he did the right thing and tried to save Dorothy and his friends from the wicked witch.  It takes courage these days to show compassion and understanding, even in the face of things we may not understand.  But it takes neither courage, nor compassion to criticize and break people down because they think differently or choose differently or believe differently or look differently than we do or if they make decisions for their lives that hurts no one that we don’t agree with.

Everyone is different.  Everyone has their own idea of how things should be.  Why should it matter to someone if someone else doesn’t have those same beliefs?  It shouldn’t, but for some reason, it does.  I’ll never understand it.

Until we meet again my friends, be kind to one another…

Paying it Forward, In its Purest State

Today I want to talk about paying it forward. Okay, I heard the collective groans out there, but stick with me. Don’t I always take you on a little journey that sometimes goes around my hand to get to my thumb just to make a point?

We’ve all heard the term ‘paying it forward.’ You hear about it happening a lot at Starbucks. I’m not sure why it happens so often there, maybe it’s because Starbucks is a coffee-type place, and for some reason, folks need their coffee in order to keep from killing people. I don’t know, but that is a possibility. Before I continue, let me clarify: Starbucks is not a coffee shop. You see, coffee shops sell, well, coffee. I don’t know what that stuff is that Starbucks sells, and just because they use coffee in a lot of it does not make the items they sell actual coffee. My blog. My two cents.

At any rate, you often hear that people will pay for the frappe-crappo-cino-latte-vanillo-grande-caramello-drink-o for the car behind them. Then the next person does the same and so on and so on until someone finally says, ‘Cool, I get a free frappe-crappo-cino-latte-vanillo-grande-caramello-drink-o.’ Most people don’t want to be the one who breaks that chain, but there are those who will. I’m not sure if that’s a good for you or a shame on you.

Paying it forward is simply you do something nice for someone without wanting anything in return, and hopefully, that person will do the same for someone else, and so on and so on. In the end, paying it forward is kind of like rumors—they come back around, and usually not in the same manner as when it started. In the case of rumors, that sucks. In the case of paying it forward, well, it’s often a good thing.

So often in today’s society, paying it forward or just being kind to one another, isn’t such a popular concept. It’s all about me, me, me, me, and giving someone money or buying something for a total stranger is considered crazy and somewhat stupid by many folks.

Not one person, at least.

Let me tell you a story real quickly:

I was perusing Facebook this morning. Yeah, that great worldwide killer of time. I wasn’t feeling all that well and was debating on going back to bed. After all, it wasn’t even seven a.m. at this point and I really didn’t need to get up earlier than eight. I was about to click off when I saw a post from an author friend of mine. The post was about his wife, Linda.

Let’s break this up or we’re going to have one really long paragraph here.

Linda had been at the Wally World (Wal-Mart, for those who don’t know that term) and she overheard a young couple talking about wanting to buy their son a kiddie pool. It wasn’t one of those ginormous fifteen foot in circumference, four feet deep ones. No, it was your standard plastic kiddie pool with little fish designs on it.

The pool was eighteen dollars and the young couple couldn’t afford it. Having been a young couple at one time with my wife, Cate, and wanting to buy something for my children and not being able to, it’s a bad feeling. As the parent, you feel guilty and sad and like a bad parent who needs to be put in the corner or spanked (no, not that type of spanking). It sucks.

So what did Linda do? She walked off, ignoring them.

No. No. I’m just kidding.

Linda pulled out a twenty dollar bill and gave it to them and told the young couple, and I quote, “Get the pool for your son.”

Wait, it gets better. You see, their son was with them, and the mother was holding another child. So, the son saw this act of kindness. They thanked her profusely and Linda watched as they went and paid for the pool.

She cried as she told her husband this story.

Okay, did you picture any of that? Can you see the young couple? They wanted to do something for their son, but they couldn’t. I can see the kid—probably somewhere between the ages of two and five, maybe six, his eyes turned down and sad. I can almost hear his thoughts. Summer’s coming, Ma, and all we got is an old radio flyer wagon for a pool. Or something like that.

I can hear the man’s voice as he says, ‘We can’t afford it.’

I can almost hear the collective of three hearts breaking after that statement. I can almost feel the boy’s tears, and probably the momma’s, too.

But then, out of nowhere, like a knight in shiny armor on a white steed, a woman walked up holding the magical green paper that makes everyone happy. Okay, that was a little too much, but you get the picture. Linda walked up. Let’s just assume Linda is like any other woman, doing her shopping, minding her own business when she overheard this conversation. Instead of walking off, she showed compassion to the young couple, and more importantly, for the young boy. She gave them the money to buy the pool. No, she didn’t give them eighteen dollars, but a full twenty, which would cover the taxes as well.

This woman—Linda—gave money to total strangers so they could do something for their kid. Here’s something to think about: Obviously, the young couple were overjoyed at the sudden act of kindness. They were probably overwhelmed a little. The boy was probably excited—he was going to get his pool and not have to play in a rusty old radio flyer wagon. Okay, sorry—flashback, 1978. There’s no rusty radio flyer wagon.

Now, as much as Linda touched the lives of three—possibly four—members of a family, she also touched her own life. What? How? Simple: she cried when she told the story. Her own compassion moved her in such a way it made her cry. Why? She was probably happier than the parents and the child combined. Seeing their joy probably lifted her heart more than her giving that money to them lifted theirs.

I’ve learned that by doing things like what Linda did it can have a positive impact on others, but it also can have a positive impact on you. It can be uplifting for the person doing the giving. It can change how you feel about life and people and money and things that we take for granted, like how mindlessly we blow twenty bucks. We don’t think about it, we just do it. I don’t have a lot of money. I barely get from paycheck to paycheck, but guess what? I’ve blown more than twenty bucks at a time without thinking about it. I’m sure many of you have, as well. There’s nothing wrong with that. You earned the money, you get to spend it, right? Absolutely.

Linda paid it forward. Do you think she will ever get that money back? I don’t. And I don’t think she cares if she does, either. What she received in return was the joy of seeing how much happiness her compassionate deed brought to that young family. And there is nothing like that feeling. Having done something similar, I can honestly say the joy of seeing someone’s face light up and hope surface in a set of eyes, it’s a better rush than any drug and it last longer because it hits you right in the heart—and that’s where it matters.

Here’s the clincher: Linda wasn’t going to tell anyone else. She was going to let her good deed be known to her husband and no one else. Not only was she compassionate, she was humble. She didn’t shout to the world, ‘hey, look what I’ve done.’ No, she whispered it to her husband and she cried while doing so.

Pay it forward. It isn’t all that hard.

I’m not going to give the name of the writer. I don’t think that is necessary. But, he and I chatted on Facebook briefly about this today and he was gracious enough to let me use this story for this particular piece. I learned a lot about him and his wife in that brief conversation, and in the post that he shared with the world. They’re my type of people.

I mentioned he is an author, didn’t I? Yup, right there and there and, yup, there, as well. I like to get to know writers before I purchase anything from them. I like to get to know if they are cool or jerks just out for a buck. I don’t want to support writers who are jerks. It’s just that simple. But this dude and his wife are not jerks. So, now…now I want to purchase one of his books to see if I like his style. He has several books to choose from, so when I head over to Amazon I will have to choose carefully. No, I’m not paying it forward by doing so. I’m doing what I always do: buy books from someone I would hang out with if we knew each other in person, from someone who would do the right thing when the right thing needs to be done. My type of people.

Before I go, I want to say one more thing: Thank you, Linda, for being a light in that family’s life, and an inspiration to others.

Until we meet again, my friends, be kind to one another.

 

 

Ellen Degeneres, I Love You…

I love Ellen Degeneres.  There I said it.  I’m a guy and I love Ellen Degeneres.  My wife loves her, too.  So does The Boy and The Girl.  I’m willing to wager that the Hell Spawn (better known as Mia, the cat) and The Dog like her as well.  I don’t have proof of this, but I’m going to say they do.

I know her show is geared toward women.  Most talk-type shows are.  But hers is different.  First of all, she’s funny.  That gives her a leg up on all daytime shows.  Second, and this is more important than being funny, she is compassionate.

I’m just going to stop here for a moment.  Compassion is defined as:  sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.

I don’t particularly care much for the term ‘pity’ in there, but I firmly believe compassion is, indeed, concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.  If there were ever a celebrity who has concerns for the sufferings and misfortunes of others, it is Ellen.  If you think I am wrong, watch her show for a few days and you will see, not only humor and other celebrities, but you will see compassion.  You will see a person who truly believes in helping others and who uses her star power for the betterment of people.

Cate watches Ellen every day.  It is set to record every morning, and in the evening, usually around supper time, she sits on the couch and flips on Ellen.  Sometimes when I am not in there with her, I hear Cate laughing and I can’t help but smile.  Laughter makes the heart lighter, even on bad days.  I’m good at making jokes and wisecracks and saying things to make people laugh, but Ellen is different.  Her humor makes herself laugh, and why shouldn’t it?  If you can’t laugh at yourself, then you’ll be the only one not in on the jokes.  I love hearing Cate laugh when she is watching Ellen.

Back to the compassion thing.  As I said earlier, if you don’t believe me, watch her show for a few days—a week, tops—and you will see someone who truly believes in helping people.  She gives.  She gives.  Do you understand that?  She gives.  Not just money, but time.  She gives hope to folks who might not have had it before.  She gives money where there is a need, but she doesn’t just say, ‘here is a few thousand bucks, have a good life.’  No, she goes back and checks on some of the people she has helped, to see how they are progressing, to see if they are okay.  She’s a huge celebrity who acts just like the average person.

How refreshing is that?

I know that at the end of an hour of Ellen, whatever bad day Cate may have been having just got better.  To me, that is a person who makes an impact on others’ lives in a positive way.

And there’s one other thing that Ellen does that I think is awesome.  As a matter of fact, I’ve adopted it—well, partially.  At the end of each show, Ellen says, to me, the most important words anyone can say to each other: Be kind to one another. Do you understand the importance of those words?  In a world where there is so much violence and hate and selfishness and me, me, me mentality, being kind to one another has kind of gone out the window.  We don’t hold the doors for others.  We don’t say ‘thank you’ anymore.  We let others negative opinions and attitudes rub off on us.  We have road rage and shopping rage and whatever we feel like rage.

In a society where most everything on the news is negative, to hear ‘be kind to one another’ is such a radical thing, it’s almost unheard of.  And every time I hear it, I smile.

Back in January I made it a point to try and be as upbeat as possible; to try and be as positive as I can be.  Sometimes it’s extremely difficult.  Sometimes I want to just pack it up and say ‘I can’t do this anymore.’  Sometimes things happen and my nerves become frayed and my temper has a short fuse.  But the power of positive thinking is real.  Being kind to one another really does have a positive effect on people.  Just like being rude or mean to others has a negative effect.  If just hearing ‘be kind to one another’ can make people smile, imagine what actually doing it can do.

This is my challenge to you—all eight of you:  Go out and do something nice for someone. Do this every day.  Be nice to someone every day and see if your attitude doesn’t change over time; see if you, as a person, doesn’t have a better outlook on life.

To Ellen Degeneres, thank you.  Thank you for being a positive influence and role model in a society where there are few of these.  Thank you for your concern for others, and your desire to help them.  Thank you for making my wife laugh.  It’s the most beautiful sound.

As I’ve done in every blog since January, I leave you with my modified closing:  Until we meet again, my friends, be kind to one another…