On Friday I had a brunch meeting with my wife, who is also my business partner of ten years, and had a nice time. We both had a Sante Fe scramble and went on our way after the business discussion convened. My next stop was Starbuck’s (the branch office), then the office. After work, I headed down to the local tavern for a bit until I made my way home for Date Nite. We ate kung pao chicken from our favorite Chinese joint down the road. We watched the latest episode of our current favorite show ‘Justified‘. Shortly thereafter I began snoozing and continued sawing wood until the next morning. Sometime Saturday I show up at the office and I realize that my company credit card is missing. Should I worry? Should I not?
I decided not to worry. I rarely lose things. Misplace them? Yes. Lose forever? Not so much. Besides, if I called the credit card company and reported it lost/stolen I would be stuck having to change a heck of a lot of recurring charges on Monday. Whether you deem my actions wise or lazy is up to you. Read on.
Living by Accident principle #1 is: “Ask yourself, ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ If it is not as bad as having your fingernails pulled out with pliers like George Clooney in Syriana, then there is nothing to worry about.”
I took myself a deep breath and decided to live my next few days keeping my eyes peeled for the card expecting it to turn up. Days go by and I begin to doubt my wise half. Wise half wins and I continue to keep the faith. Finally, on Monday, I end up at Starbucks. I asked the manager if my credit card had turned up and she stated it had not. Time to panic, right? No.
I hop into my Prius and hover through the parking lot and make my way past Bread Winners Cafe. Wait. That’s where Wifey and I had brunch the other day. I parked my vehicle, walked inside and asked for the manager. Turns out, I left the card on the table with the check unsigned. It seems my return worked out for me and the waiter. No worries, no harm, pure goodness.
What is the lesson I learned? Don’t worry.
I don’t look for news. I wait for news to find me. One evening, a couple of years ago, I saw myself faced with CNN, Law & Order and a preacher on the Jesus channel. All of them were advising me of the dismal state of this world. That set me on a quest to determine what news actually affected me and the people around me and what did not. I stopped listening to talk radio, I ceased watching news programs and began to rely only on the people around me for my news. As a result I am more focused, peaceful, productive and happier. Best yet, my philosophies remain untainted by the noise generated by commercialism and politics.
There are almost 57 million square miles of dry land on the planet Earth and more than 6 billion people on it. That leaves hundreds of people per square mile, whether populated or not. I have faith in my fellow man. I believe that, if we all begin where we are and concentrate on affecting those around us, we can be most effective. The economy of this creates a forward-moving vacuum that is filled by others. This moves the ripple forward. It’s simple science, people. Before you decide to spout off on politicians, the television, or foreign events, you need to first involve yourself in causing positivity and goodness right here and right now. Positivity and goodness. Here. Now. Remember, it’s just television. Turn it off, look around, smile, and take action.
I was in San Francisco for a conference for three days and finishing up my final meeting before leaving the hotel for my flight. As planned, I left the hotel around a quarter after four in the afternoon for my flight that was scheduled to leave at 6:30pm. So I hopped in a cab and started on my way. As usual, I called American Airlines to see if my flight was leaving on time or if there was a delay. Turns out there was indeed a delay and it was no longer departing at 4:30pm and, instead, was departing 5:00pm. Wait. Darn! I got the time zones mixed up. It was leaving at 6:30pm Central Time. A lot of good that does me. So now I’m in a cab on my way to a flight that is leaving late in about ten minutes. I scramble out of the cab and check in at the counter. Thankfully, the attendant was kind enough to bypass the 30-minute check-in policy and give me my ticket. There was no line at the security checkpoint and my gate was the first one on the right. They just began boarding as I approached. Seat 15a was awaiting my behind and I arrived home safe and sound. I didn’t whine, yell or stress. Even if things didn’t turn out as seamlessly as they did, my life would have been fine.
So I get off the plane and board the shuttle to the off-site parking lot. I share my experience with the driver and tell him how glad I was that I made my flight and how I credit my positive outlook with the evening’s results. During our conversation he told me he was depressed that day and even had suicidal thoughts. We continued chatting and he told me all about his children. As I got off the shuttle I told him to keep smiling.
This is another successful example of my method of happily tumbling forward from one moment to the next in order to achieve optimal attitude and results. I call this “Living by Accident”.
>I was driving to the office today, mainly because I feel my greatest purpose when I am with groups or alone. Alone was the most obvious choice. I saw an email from my brother letting me know my nephew Jake (my ‘mini-me’) was available if I wanted to hang out. I remember my father’s needs were so similar to mine. In solitude or in crowds rarely one-on-one. I called Jake and took him out to lunch although my anxiety disorder was telling me to be alone.
I picked up Jake and drove down Central Expressway naming restaurants from the signs and let him pick the place. He chose Outback Steakhouse. I told him the only condition was that he speak “Australian” to all of the wait staff. He agreed. We had a blast and shared a chicken fried steak and a huge order of Aussie cheese fries. My anxiety disorder is sometimes overprotective. Having lunch with Jake was better than any other choice I could have made.
My father is my hero. He was a great man and I aspire to be just like him. His greatest talent was affecting people in whatever positive way he could. He gave encouraging advice, told jokes, poured his soul… whatever it took to make others better people. A great need like that leaves one feeling empty yet fulfilled. I say this not to emphasize the word ’empty’ but the word ‘fulfilled’. An empty gas tank got you to the best place you ever were.
Sometimes I think this was his goal in life. It is my goal in life. However unfocused, it is my passion. Affecting as many people positively as I can in my short time here on Earth. Emptying myself is not a bad thing just as it was not with my father. But the more journeys you take others’ souls, the more often your gas tank is bone dry.
I guess the reason I am writing this is… I know many of us have a common goal of making others’ lives better. Don’t feel guilty for needing to refuel. You emptied that gas tank affecting someone. Smile and refuel, whatever it takes.
Today I signed up to walk in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area Out of the Darkness Community Walk to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I have not yet embraced this type of organization mainly because, I guess, I still don’t know how to read my own feelings about my old man’s early departure. The best way I have known to deal with them is to share words about him with those who loved him. Since many of you knew him, I thought perhaps a re-post of the eulogy I read at his funeral would be a suitable memory for all of us five years after…
“The earliest memory in my life is sitting in a lifeguard booth between my Dad and his partner, wearing my Dad’s lifeguard hat. And I think figuratively, I’ve been trying to wear his hat my entire life.
In the 70s, I saw my father as Officer Jim Street from the TV show SWAT. Jumping over fences and chasing bad guys. In the 80s I saw him as Spenser: For Hire, a tough private eye character from books and television. His favorite movie was The Magnificent Seven. These were tough men that I could never be. And because of that, I always saw myself as a disappointment to my father.
Then, about ten years ago, I drove across the country to get away from the old man. Through a bunch of circumstances, I fell into his line of business. And you know what? Ten years later, I’m doing what my Dad does. And I’m as good as him.
Last year, after my sister’s wedding, we were at a bar and Bob ordered up his usual for himself and for me; a shot of Cuervo and a bottle of Heineken. I lifted my shot glass, and I said, “To my hero.” He lifted his and said, “To mine.” That was my defining moment. I knew that I had gained my father’s respect. That’s all I ever wanted.
There were a few people my father considered his heroes:
His first hero was his father Loren Holmes. His father’s special name for him was “Robbie”. After Loren died when Bob was only ten, Bob instructed everyone to call him “Bobby” because the other name died with his father. Most everybody has called me Robbie my entire life. My father always told me that that name was a piece of his father that he saved to give to his first son.
His best friend’s father, Al Ganary, was a father to him until Al’s passing about ten years ago. Besides of course the daily joy Bob had with his loved ones, the last real good time my father had was at a thing called “Bad Boys Weekend”. This was one weekend a year he and his life-long friends Dave Ganary and Roy Bergey set aside to celebrate the life of their father figure Al Ganary and the bond they all had.
His big brothers Ted and Bub were immortal gods to him; men who couldn’t be harmed or die.
The person he admired most was his mother Mildred. All my life, it was his mother he held up as his example of strength. Not to mention, Bob always said that she had the greatest detective mind that he had ever encountered.
My song to my father is a song Bruce Springsteen wrote to his father. Even though he was a grown man, he still looks to his father in order to know how to walk like a man.”
[Dear family friend Rev. Steve Rahter performed this song live in Linwood, NJ at the funeral.’]
Here’s to you, Dad. I’ll see you again.
“Walk Like a Man” by Bruce Springsteen
I remember how rough your hand felt on mine on my wedding day
And the tears cried on my shoulder I couldn’t turn away
Well so much has happened to me that I don’t understand
All I can think of is being five years old following behind you at the beach tracing your footprints in the sand
Trying to walk like a man
By our lady of the roses we lived in the shadow of the elms
I remember ma draggin’ me and my sister up the street to the church whenever she heard those wedding bells
Well would they ever look so happy again the handsome groom and his bride
As they stepped into that long black limousine for their mystery ride
Well tonight you step away from me and alone at the alter I stand
And as I watch my bride coming down the aisle I pray for the strength to walk like a man
Well now the years have gone and I’ve grown from that seed you’ve sown
But I didn’t think there’d be so many steps I’d have to learn on my own
Well I was young and I didn’t know what to do
When I saw your best steps stolen away from you
Now I’ll do what I can
I’ll walk like a man
And I’ll keep on walkin’
bobs doing it now.
he is calling me from beyond.
what an asshole to leave
and expect me to join his party.
there was a party here.
aint no party anymore.
your smug picture doesnt do it bob.
it aint you and neither was that crappy note.
we all feel it
dont pretend you are special
no one is special
except me. didnt you know that?
this is the end of the beginning
it is my way of stopping
stopping what, you say?