It Might Take The End of the World

The weekend weather was pleasant. Mild temperatures, light breezes, bright sun warmed the patio. He read a book outside on the porch swing. His wife approached and asked about the book.

“Oh it’s another end of the world saga. Power grid goes down. Technology stops working. Society collapses. People fight to survive. I just ordered it wirelessly from Amazon for instant download to my Kindle.” he said without any realization of the irony.

Sometimes, we all need a break from these little glowing boxes. How do you know when it’s time to unplug? What do you do to make it happen?

Eating Like Their Dad

“I want the steak!” the little boy announced.

“Son, wouldn’t you prefer the fried chicken sticks with macaroni and cheese?” Mom suggested.

“No. I’m hungry for steak!” he insisted.

“Son, you can have steak another time. Like when you’re grandfather isn’t paying for the nine people at the table.” Dad whispered hoarsely.

“Grampa said we could have whatever we want, and I want steak!” the little boy loudly stated.

Grampa chuckled and said, “Let him have steak. It’s all right.”

25 years later, the little boy had a family of his own. Their grandparents came to visit and treated them all to a favorite restaurant.

#1 son loudly announced, “I’ll have the teriyaki hibachi steak, with a side order of steak.”

Tell us about a time you found out after the fact that you’d been mistaken and you had to eat a serving of humble pie.

Stuck Outside

“Take me instead.” he prayed. It would be easier for him to experience the events directly than to sit at his daughter’s bedside and watch her suffering. Unfortunately, he could not take her place. It tortured his soul to be helpless like this. He could not assist her breathing. He could not ease her pain. She looked over at him and smiled. “It will be okay, Dad. God told me I’m going to get better.”

Dad’s heart wrenched at her statement. He did not share the optimism. He knew too much. He understood more of the science than she did. The outlook was grim from his perspective. She clearly did not understand or else she would not be so cheerful. He smiled back and patted her shoulder.

“Dad. I’m serious. Stop worrying. I’m going to be fine.” she insisted.

He couldn’t see it. The outcome was unclear. The unknown future scared him. The fear fed discouragement to his spirit. The strain weighed on him mightily. He struggled to keep the worry from his face. A Bible verse came to his mind unbidden, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1.

That described the situation perfectly to his mind. He could not see past the current situation. It obstructed all views of the future. It loomed over everything and blocked out his hope. Her faith was stronger right now and instead of wallowing in self-pity, she tried to encourage him.

“Dad, trust me. Trust God. It’s going to be okay. He said so. Get more mustard seeds.” she stated. Her reference to Jesus’ words from Matthew 17:20 convicted his heart. “…if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

He remembered hearing that “mountains” symbolized problems in one’s life. She was seeing past the current situation to the promise of a healthy future. There was no mountain in her way. She believed it was already past. He needed to catch up.

Tell us about the experience of being outside, looking in — however you’d like to interpret that.

A Cat, Bowl of Soup, and a Beach Towel

“He’s beautiful!” my wife exclaimed as the cat strutted across the living room carpet towards us. We were sitting on the couch waiting to greet our friend’s cat. She was moving and her new apartment did not allow pets. She had brought her cat to us in the hope we would adopt him.

“He’s pure white and goes great with the furniture!” my wife gushed. I rolled my eyes and silently groaned. As a former farm boy, my view of cats was much different. Cats are a disposable commodity not a decorating choice. But I was willing to be the “good husband” and let my wife have what she wanted. If a short-haired, all white, feline was it, he could be the neutered member of the family.

The cat stopped in the middle of the room and looked around briefly before walking forward and calmly springing to the center of the couch between us. He turned towards my wife and pushed his head into her waiting hand. His raised tail pointed at me and he farted. Not a big one, but definitely audible and fired in my direction. It was a warning shot we ignored at our own risk. My wife laughed at the gas event and announced, “He’s PERFECT! We’ll definitely take him.”

One year later, the cat competed with our infant for attention and control of the house. The baby clearly had priority status and the cat fought in creative ways to sabotage things. A moment of parental distraction and the bowl of soup got knocked off the high chair to the floor. Did the cat do that or was it the baby? We could not always tell.

Later, a horrible retching sound emanated from the bedroom. Another hairball? Gross. We would run in there and discover a large quantity of cat vomit on the pile of clean laundry. This time it hit a shirt, some socks, and a corner of a beach towel that never recovered from the stain. More items for the rag bin.

Wait! Where is the cat now? Oh no! He’s pooping on the dining room rug while looking straight at us. “What are you going to do about it?” he seemed to be saying. “This is what I think about your stupid baby. I was here first.” he went on staring in defiance as he dumped his bowels. How long had he been saving that load?

Today, you can write about whatever you what — but your post must include, in whatever role you see fit, a cat, a bowl of soup, and a beach towel.

The Great Pretender

Most people are sheep. Followers moving with the flock. Passively being guided through life by more influential others. Some of those leaders are positive, others negatively motivating through fear. Sheepdogs guide and protect. Wolves attack.

Watch the flock at a sporting event and you will witness the herd mentality for yourself. At pauses in the game, the mascot or other entertainers take to the sidelines and interact with the crowd. See how the sheep people respond to directions and sit, stand, wave, sing, or struggle for a T-shirt launched from an air tube. Passive. Weak. Vulnerable. Just how I like it.

A pretender assumes many roles. All it takes is confidence and commitment to the part. The correct tilt of the head, thrust of the jaw, steadiness of gaze, and the crowd is yours to command. Launch into the desired direction and within moments one or more of the sheep begin to move. Others quickly fall in line. The power is intoxicating.

At a gathering once, the people played a memory game to set the tone for a fun night. Halfway through, I commanded the sheep people to switch seating positions to opposite locations across the room. They complied and the game resumed with disastrous results. Everyone had associated their memory answers with people sitting in specific places. Now, it was all disrupted. After several stumbles, my wife interjected, “Why are you listening to him? He’s not in charge!” They sat stunned and took several moments to change seating back to their original locations while I sat smugly off to the side.

Are you full of confidence or have you ever suffered from Imposter Syndrome? Tell us all about it.

The Long Drive Home

As newlyweds, we moved 3,000 miles from home one week after our wedding. Looking back on it now more than 28 years later, it was one of the best things we could have done for our marriage. The distance from in-laws insulated us from interference and an abundance of well-meaning advice that could have smothered us. The extra space allowed us to come together as a couple to face the world on our own.

Our courtship spanned 18 months and was spent far from each other in the days before email, twitter, and all the numerous ways of simplified communication available to us now. My wife tells me it was my letters that helped capture her heart. It seems even back then I could write compelling prose.

Soon we will be driving to the place we used to consider home. It is only 500 miles from where we eventually settled down and had children of our own. Now we think of it as the place where our extended family lives. Visits have been infrequent over the years. Holiday seasons used to be spent making the trek with small children to see their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Eventually, we decided to travel during summer months instead of going to the colder region during winter. Sometimes, they came to visit us. Over the years, the brief spans of time spent with extended family has been precious.

My wife applies a special technique to long-distance driving – shortcuts. Her shortcuts are not traditional alternate routes chosen to save time. Her method involves napping. Regardless of our departure time, she quickly settles into a sleeping mode that can last for hours. Much like young parents may drive their babies to get them to sleep, she reverts to that infantile state during long drives.

Upon arrival, she wakes up refreshed and asks, “What time is it? Are we there yet? We are? Wow, that was quick!”

You’re going on a cross-country trip. Airplane, train, bus, or car? (Or something else entirely — bike? Hot air balloon?)

Greatest Fear

Not much inspires fear in my life. I may be dead inside. Unfeeling. Whatever.

Lock me in a room to face my greatest fear and what will I find there? Missed opportunities.

Chances where I could have made a positive difference in another person’s life but did not act. Points in my career where a bold move could have set an entirely new trajectory for work and family life, but I played it safe instead.

In teenage years, the options were limited. Actions much smaller. A bad first impression, a clumsy introduction I wanted to do over, holding hands too soon or too late. Missed moments now long gone that can never be overcome.

As a young man in life, there were choices of whom to date, spend time with, and invest attentions. Some choices were good. Others turned out badly. Live and learn. Move on.

As a husband and father there have been many times where the way forward seemed murky. Choices and consequences unclear from our perspective. In hindsight, too many revealed themselves with blindingly obvious clarity. If only I’d had the courage to take the chance.

Enough self-pity and loathing! Bring on the challenge! Lock me in a room with my worst regrets. I am no longer afraid.

You’re locked in a room with your greatest fear. Describe what’s in the room.