Saturday, March 31, 2012

Feed Them on Your Dreams

"Teach your children well,
Their father's hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams..."
                  --Crosby, Stills & Nash

I recently received a video entitled "We Stopped Dreaming" -- you can see it yourself at The premise of this video is that our collective dreams enabled our nation to put a man on the moon; that dreams make tomorrow come; that dreams enable the world of tomorrow and the life of tomorrow; and that we have stopped dreaming.  Were I to believe this, I would conclude that tomorrow is as gone as yesterday, leaving the only gray sameness of today stretching into an interminable future.

This country was built on dreams: dreams of land, dreams of liberty, dreams of personal accomplishment.  Dreams are the substance of possibility.  If you can't visualize the possibility of something better, then, whatever it is, you can't make it so.

Dreams require an attitude of abundance, an attitude that says "I have everything I need to make my dream happen.  As a nation, we lost our dreams sometime in the late 1960's when books such as The Population Bomb told us that there weren't or soon wouldn't be enough resources to go around.  And we believed them.  We believed them even more after spending time freezing in the dark and waiting in gas lines during the oil embargo of the 1970's.  

Today, we are told that certain futures are "impossible" and we believe it.  We are told that if we have and use the resources we have to make our dreams happen that we are being selfish.  

How poor we are.  Of all nations, the most richly blessed are most fearful of scarcity.

"But," we are told, "by using more than 'your fair share', your are depriving someone else of enough." And, we are told "There may not be enough to last.  Scarce resources need to be conserved and hoarded or else shared equitably among all." Each variation of these statements is presented with an air of high snootiness. 

We are made to feel guilty for having achieved, guilty for wanting to achieve more, guilty of wishing for more and better and guilty for dreaming and striving to make those dreams -- our vision of a desired future -- into reality.

No dreams? What a crock of crap!  More like no guts to go and to dare what must be done.  More like too much contentment living within limitations we are told we have and not enough courage to live abundantly in all circumstances.

We haven't stopped dreaming.  We've have been brainwashed into living in a world where dreams are severely limited and where youth are taught to dream only that which they are told is socially correct and acceptable.  

When I was a youth, I dreamed of a world in which space flight was routine and mankind had colonized the moon and near planets.  I dreamed of a world where the land yielded abundant food and the transportation system provide the means for food to be distributed to each not according to his needs, but according to his wants. I dreamed of a life of adventure and discovery.  And I dreamed of a life in which I was free to work at something useful and left alone to enjoy the fruits of my labor.  

To the extent possible, I fed my children on my dreams and watched them thrive.

What are your dreams?

On what dreams are you feeding your children?

What shapes your vision of the future?


Friday, March 23, 2012

Simple Rules

I have learned that life is best lived by following a few simple rules.

God transformed twelve tribes of slaves into the nation of Israel by giving them ten simple rules and an asking them time and again, "What part of 'Thou shalt not' do you not understand?"

Today, Benjamin Franklin, arguably one of the most erudite men of his day, is remembered more than anything else, for the simple rules he published in Poor Richard's Almanac.

"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."
"A penny saved is a penny earned."
"Waste not time, for it is the substance of life."

My Mom and Dad raised four children using a few simple rules.  Rules like "Don't hit your sister", and "You take care of you, and let (whoever) take care of (whoever)."  And Moms' personal favorite, from the Disney movie Bambi, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say nothing at all."  Dad's favorite seemed to be "Remember, whether you're digging ditches or directing a corporation, it's all food on the table."  For the most part, Mom and Dad lived the rules they taught us each and every day of their lives and today each of us children can justifiably claim to be reasonably responsible and productive adult members of society.

And, like my parents before me, my wife and I raised our family to observe a few simple rules, the most important of which were always stated as

"Rule 1: No fighting.
Rule 2: If a fight breaks out, remember rule 1."

And there were others, like "Always try a 'no thank you' helping," and "Take all that you want, but eat all that you take."  And also "If you sign up for a team sport or activity, then you owe it to the team to continue that sport or activity until the end of the season."

Today, I am proud to report that each of my children can also justifiably claim a place as reasonably responsible and productive adults.

In future posts, I may present a few more of the simple rules that have benefited me in their application.  But, in the mean time, I'd like to know, what simple rules have you lived out to make you into the person you are today?

And what other simple rules might make your life better? 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spring Time Thoughts

Spring Morning:
Haiku in Three Verses

Birdsong greets my day;
many differing voices
reflecting their joy.

Robins sound the note.
Mockingbirds add harmony.
Crows are always bass.

Doves coo the alto,
A woodpecker adds rhythm,
All sounding gladness!

Springtime arrived unannounced this week.  Temperatures, lately mired in the chill of February, have suddenly become more typical of late May.  Trees, bare and naked a week ago, are now clothed in pink, yellow, and white blossoms.  Birdsong has returned to early morning, and yellow dandelions to my lawn.

You would think that after more than sixty-six years I would have learned to expect the annual change and that springtime would somehow become routine and familiar.  I am pleased to report it has not.  To me, each spring and each spring day is entirely new and full of promise.  More than any other time of the year, in the early spring I find myself greeting each morning with heightened expectation. 

What new thing will I discover today? What sights? What sounds? What smells? What touches? What tastes?

What new wonder will I discover? What old wonder will I become reacquainted with? 

All are welcome.

Spring is about newness of life and newness of spirit.  I am renewed with each spring morning.

How will you make your life new this spring?

How will you renew your spirit? 

Friday, March 9, 2012

On Birthday Presents

I remember the day I turned four years old.  After I got up and went downstairs, I was presented with a green and yellow box.  When I opened it, I found a small cast iron John Deere tractor, just like Dad's.  Over the years that followed, the little tractor and I plowed a lot of fields and hauled a lot of wagon loads of hay.  We even spread lots of sawdust on our fields with a tiny manure spreader.  When you're four years old, and you're doing what you admire seeing your Daddy do, you're in heaven.  

I still have the little John Deere somewhere.  The paint is faded and rubbed off allowing the gray iron to show through. The hard rubber back wheels no longer stand straight, having worn on their axle.  And the exhaust stack may be bent, but the farmer in his straw hat still sits proudly in the seat, ready to plow another round on the south forty.  The little tractor remains among my most precious possessions, proving the truth of the slogan "Nothing works like a Deere!.

The following year, when I was five, I got a gold-colored cap pistol with ruby red grips. That year, I began riding the range with Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger, and Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, radio cowboys of the early 1950s.  

Of the birthday presents I have received since then, most have been forgotten, with one notable exception. 

On the thirty-fifth anniversary of my natal day, my wife presented me with our fourth child, a nine pound two-and-one-half ounce daughter. I got to carry her from the delivery room to the newborn nursery, a short walk during which we shared the secrets of the world. Since that day, she has made me very proud to be her dad.  Sharing my birthday with her is one of the proudest things I get to do.

So, Happy Birthday Alicia, and many, many more. Have fun learning to be your new age.  You are and will always be the best birthday present your mom gave me. Ice cream will be consumed in your honor.

Which special birthday presents do you remember?

What made them special?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Another Milestone

On Thursday morning, I showed up for a meeting/video conference that I had been requested to attend.  I was therefore surprised to be called out and presented a certificate of recognition for 30 years of continued employment at my company.  Apart from the certificate there was no other reason for me to be there.  

You could have knocked me over with a feather. The certificate reads "In recognition of thirty years of dedicated service."  Who would think that seeing those words on paper beneath my name could mean so much?

It doesn't seem like 30 years.  It doesn't feel like 30 years.  For many, thirty years is more than half a life-time.  When I started, the thought of staying on for thirty years was not even a small part of my calculations.  And yet, here I am, thirty years later, unsure whether to treat this particular milestone as a valedictory and look back or as a salutatory and focus forward. 

I will definitely avail myself of the opportunity to look back.  I learned some very important personal and professional life lessons from some very important people over the last thirty years. Some are no longer with us.  Others, I continue to work with every day.  I am grateful for all of them.  

That said, I plan to keep my focus forward.  Since hearing of the award, many have wished me at least thirty years more.  Thank you.  I appreciate your friendship and the vote of confidence, but thirty years more is probably not going to happen.  What I can tell you is that outside, the sun is shining brightly.  Inside I am feeling exceptionally free and contented; I am excited to have achieved this milestone and eager to take on whatever comes next. With friends such as I have, whatever comes next will be an adventure.

It is written somewhere that if you “Sow a thought, you reap an act; Sow an act, and you reap a habit; Sow a habit, and you reap a character; Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.”

Looking back over the past thirty years, I realize the truth of those words.  

What thoughts are you sowing today?

What destiny will you reap in thirty years?

Thirty years.  Who would have thunk it?