Sunday, August 26, 2012

Lesson from a Mirage

Are things always the way they seem? 

From our years in the Middle East I can attest that a mirage in the desert can appear to be very real but, when we arrive at the spot it where it seemed to be, it is not there.  Maybe to have moved on to a more distant spot?  Where did it go?

Or, have you ever tried to chase a rainbow, another “mirage”?     Just where the end would seem to be logically, it is not there. And, unfortunately, no pot of gold either.

Fear can often be like a mirage.  The dictionary describes a mirage as something illusory and unattainable, a misconception.   It is an optical phenomenon that creates an illusion, often with inverted reflections of distant objects,

Many times the very thing we fear, a sense of lack, some horrible physical claim, a failing relationship, loss of job,  that mirage in our thinking, never comes. 

My "Lesson from a Mirage" reminds me of a story I heard recently.  A restaurant posted a sign in the window that said, “Free Food Tomorrow”.   When folks came back the next day for the free lunch, the sign still said… yep, … “Free Food Tomorrow”.  That particular “tomorrow” will never arrive.  It proved to be a good laugh producer and I guess the restaurant patrons enjoyed the joke while also learning a good lesson.  Tomorrow will always be Today, tomorrow!!!

So many times when I have been fearful, apprehensive, sometimes just plain SCARED of some upcoming event or looming threat , I have seen this in my own experience.  A particularly good example, and a long time reminder for me, of fear’s false threats was demonstrated by way of my youngest daughter, Paige.  Years ago, as the time to leave for a two week stay at a wonderful girls’ summer camp arrived, she was very concerned.  As a very young little girl, leaving home for the first time for camp, Paige had been becoming more nervous each day as the day to leave got closer and closer.   There were tears and moments of indecision, and  pleas of… “Maybe I don’t want to go” and “Maybe I will go next year when I am older.”  

We weren’t going to force her to go, of course,  but encouraged her and explained that fear was just something trying to rob her of a wonderful time, that fear is a liar and it runs before truth and the light of day  We all learn that lesson to some extent when we are young, as when Dad turns on the bedroom light and the scary, imagined creatures are not really there.

Well, the big day came and we started out bright and early on a several hour drive to the camp in western Pennsylvania with our brave little girl in the back seat.  After about an hour on the road, this precious little face, eyes sparkling and a big smile on her face, peeked over the front seat and happily said, “You know what?  I am not afraid anymore!”   

What a wonderful lesson for her Dad who also faced fears and concerns about many things.  This little girl’s courage and resolve, facing down the fear and the resulting freedom and joy, were a wonderful example of how fear can be met and mastered. 
Like the mirage, fear is an illusion, a non-fact, a lie, or, as the dictionary describes it, “a phenomenon that creates an illusion, often with inverted reflections of distant objects (or occurrences).”    

In the Bible record, Jesus tells the father of a young girl who had just passed away to “Be not afraid, only believe”. Mark 5:35 (Or, don’t believe the mirage or “inverted image”.) And she was brought back to life.    And another Bible assurance says that “Perfect Love casts out fear” I John 4:18.    Are these just statements from a centuries old record of mankind’s spiritual progress, or can they be proven in our own experience, used as a  basis for strengthening our own lives and overcoming dread and fear?  If our minds are filled with Love, there is no place for fear to occupy. 

If you seem to feel fearful today, remember the Lesson from the Mirage.   Fear is an illusion, an inverted view of spiritual reality and you will never reach the spot where fear seems to be. 

With Perfect Love filling your thoughts, there is no fear, only confidence, faith and a growing understanding of God’s Love and guidance.  

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Fuller Brush Man

“Hey Mom, some guy is at the door!”  

How many times have I heard that as I stood at the front door of a stranger’s  home!!?     Or the sudden silence from within where there had been household noises before? You can almost hear the brain waves penetrating the door and into your ears, “Maybe if we are quiet he will go away.”

Oh, the tales that a Fuller Brush Man can tell.   The Fuller Brush Company was, at one time, one of the premier providers of brushes, soaps, cleaning supplies, cosmetics and other household items and what was once rather commonplace across the country in the 1940’s and 50s, the appearance of the Fuller Brush salesman at the door, has faded into the past.   These stalwarts of positive thinking, enthusiasm and determination have gone on to their reward, seeking sales and success in other venues, or resting their weary feet after years of pavement pounding. 

It takes a certain amount of courage to climb those steps to the front porch, sample case in hand, smile on face and an absolute confidence that this house will be the one that purchases everything in the catalog. The catalogs have been distributed a week earlier so that the householders have had plenty of opportunity to see what is on special this week and to plan a huge purchase.  Well, that is the picture held firmly in the salesman’s mind!!!
I found part-time employment with a Fuller Brush dealer in  Southern California and was paid a commission based on each day’s sales. The dealer delivered the catalogs to mailboxes in a specific area a week ahead and I had the “easy job” of convincing the householders to buy the scads of merchandise.

The dealer was a "sly fox" and taught me to act just a little bit goofy and keep smiling and nodding my head so that when the person at the door told me to go away I wouldn’t be expected to understand right away what they were saying and I could keep selling.   I learned to be friendly and to offer everyone  a free gift which consisted of a small bottle of perfume, a potato scrub brush or a toothbrush so that the customer would open the door enough to reach for the gift.  When they made that fatal mistake… ZAP.. their hand was filled with our special “silicone based hand cream. While they were surprised, distracted and rubbing cream into their hands,  I was able to continue with my sales presentation and show the weekly specials and describe other items in the catalog. 

Door to door salesmen were everywhere!! 
Sometimes the person answering the door was not at all nice but the Fuller Brush Man continued to smile and show respect.  In one instance I was able to turn an irate man into a prospect just after he had offered to call the police to report us for putting a catalog in his mailbox. With sincere and abundant apologies for the incursion into his mailbox space,  and told him may folks liked to buy from home and not have to go to the store.   He relented a little at which point I was able to get some hand cream sprayed onto his hand and give him a free comb and some aftershave as a gift. He invited me warmly to be sure to drop off a catalog next time and to stop by and talk to him. This was a major victory for a young sales guy, even though he didn’t buy anything at that time. My heart was soaring as I hustled down the sidewalk to the next house.   

In the “business” you have to call on at least 12 houses in an hour and try not to spend more than 6-8 minutes at any one house.    One day I was on a roll and I was selling like crazy, I was HOT, everyone was buying, I was unstoppable!!  But, as I leaned down to get something for my sample case at one house my pants started splitting up the back. After I made the sale I backed slowly off the front porch and, being a true salesman, I was not about to quit in the middle of a streak. So, to house after house I went until my pants were completely split and I was hanging way out, backing off of the porch each time so that only my front side ever appeared to a customer.

Then there was the home at the edge of town in San Bernardino that backed right up to the edge of the desert.  Standing at the front door, ringing the bell,  I heard some women screaming in the back yard. I ran around to the back to see two Mexican ladies looking in horror at the biggest, ugliest tarantula ever! They were screaming for me to help.  Luckily, in my sample case was a can of handy dandy Fuller Bug Spray.  

Whipping out the can like an Old West gunslinger, spraying till the can was empty, I dispatched the cruel villain.  But unlike in the movies, he didn’t flinch and kept staring at me with those  big eyes, unmoving, menacing.  Finally, embodying the selfless dedication of sales professionals everywhere, I offered the sacrifice of my body on the altar of big business.   I jumped right onto the big guy with both feet.     

Today I regret that action since I have learned more about life and its fragility, even that of a tarantula.  But I did it and I here offer my apology to that innocent tarantula that was only having a great day scaring people.    

There is nothing in the world like selling. The thrill of approaching someone and turning them into a customer is one of the real high spots in life. I think it’s because the sales person is really selling himself/herself as a friend.  People buy from friends and if the salesperson is acceptable as a friend, the product is purchased.

May we all be able to emulate successful sales people to the extent that we reflect the Love and Intelligence of our Heavenly Father and present ourselves to others as friends, as supporters, as individuals selling the best product… peace, love, joy compassion and kindness.   

All sales are final!!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Destination Please...

Sitting in the cockpit of the Delta 777 jetliner, you get a really good view of the airport. I was fortunate to be riding in the jump seat in the cockpit on this flight,  and I look over at Capt. Coffee and the First Officer flicking switches, turning dials, setting navigation equipment and going through the final checklist. As we approach the end of the runway, Capt. Coffee calls the tower, "Tower, Delta 25 Heavy,
 ready to go."  Control Tower responds, “Roger Delta 25, you are cleared for takeoff, contact Departure Control at 122.5, Good day.”

WOW, this thing can really climb.  We're about up to initial cruising altitude  Here in the cockpit, the tasks are pretty well buttoned down and the crew relaxes a little, The Captain clicks on the microphone to speak to the passengers. “Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, this is the Captain speaking. Welcome aboard Delta Flight 25, we have reached our initial cruising altitude and what a glorious day to fly. In a few moments the flight attendants will be passing down the aisle taking your orders for a destination. We have no flight planned destination today, as a matter of fact, not even a flight plan!! We will let you decide where we will go today.

BUT WAIT!!  I must have been daydreaming because I was never on that Delta 25 flight. What was that all about? Then it hit me, as I was falling asleep I had been thinking about what life is all about. How incredible, .... that dream was awakening me to how we often live our lives like the Delta 25 flight, no flight plan, no destination, no direction, wandering aimlessly, living our lives wherever the winds of chance and change may blow us.

I guess maybe a lot of people have everything pretty well locked down on where they’re going and how they hope to end up in this human experience. But I must confess that a lot of times in the past I have wondered just where in the world I was going. Until, that is, one day some years ago when I did develop a plan, a destination, a place where I hoped to "land" eventually.

No, my destination was not a career goal, a geographic location, a desire to be rich, or to be famous. It was none of these. My goal, my destination was to try to become the TYPE of person I wanted to be. To try to express daily those qualities of thought and action which had been the admirable traits of my heroes, qualities  have always been the REAL me, qualities I have from Creation as God's child.   Often hard to accomplish but the "trying" gives us a lifetime of employment!! Like an asymptotic curve, you never really seem to reach the goal, but you can come close!!   

Favoring qualities of thought are not always an acceptable alternative to concrete physical goals in business life, apparently. For example, at a time when I was unemployed and seriously in need of a position, the position for which I applied was very appealing since I would be able to use my years of data processing and sales experience to become a computer sales representative for this well known computer manufacturing company. The interview was going really well until the interviewer started pressing me repeatedly on what my goals were. He wanted to know if I wanted to be president of the company or saw myself as a CEO, a marketing type or just where I wanted to end up. I told him that I didn’t know specifically what position I aspired to but that my real goal was to become the TYPE of person that I wanted to be, to express qualities such as honesty, integrity, hard work, intelligence, kindness and dedication, and to let those qualities take me to the position for which I was best suited. Well, the interview ended quickly and I quickly got another view of the parking lot as I was ushered out.

What does all this have to do with anything you may ask. Well it is a call to action, a continuing call for me, to reaffirm my dedication to demonstrating those qualities which I admire. History is full of such examples of how famous people are most remembered by the qualities they demonstrated. George Washington is remembered for his honesty, Mother Theresa for her kindness and caring, General Dwight Eisenhower is remembered for his humility, resolve and courage, Harry Truman for being a tough and determined man of good faith.

Now all these people of course had families, careers and day-to-day lives but history remembers most those qualities of thought that they held and expressed.    And, of course,  there was Jesus, of Nazareth, a young man who lived many years ago,  poor and unemployed, sometimes scorned, who, by expressing qualities of love, meekness, tenderness and courage,  set the example of how to think, act and live that remains a "light on a hill" to this day.  And many of us are inspired by the simple qualities that our pets express, love, faithfulness, forgiveness.  (OK, talking dogs here, not cats!!!)

How did all of this work out for me? Well, I probably could have made more money and could have had loftier positions, and even though I am still working hard to get closer to my goal, I wouldn’t change a thing. I love the Bible verses from Micah 6:8, as translated in The Message translation:

But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women.
It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don't take yourself too seriously—  take God seriously.

Life is wonderful!!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Fair or Fat??

As we approached the main gate the excitement and anticipation started to build. This was surely not the first time that my wife Gail and I had journeyed to Columbus Ohio to visit the Ohio State Fair, but we enjoy it anew every time we attend.

Junior Livestock

My first visit to the Fair, one of the largest in the country, was about 60 years ago when my friend Ronnie Hines and I attended with Ronnie’s dad. As young boys we had a terrific time looking at the livestock, watching the judging of horses, sheep, hogs and cows, some even being shown by boys our age.  We also were fascinated by watching calves being born in the maternity barn,  visiting the dairy barn where they showed how butter is made, and of course, we spent a little time in the amusements area where the merry-go-round, with its calliope music playing, and the tilt-a-whirl and other exciting rides were in full and noisy operation.  Ronnie’s Dad got tired of this area pretty  quickly!   It can be a tiring day!!!


In the late 1940s the Fair boasted a variety of food stands but not to the extent that they have today. Ronnie and I kept going through the line at the “free soup” display at the Mrs Grass’ Noodle Soup booth until they politely asked us to keep moving. It was “Hey Boys, that’s enough, get out of here ” as I recall.  And this after only 10 or 12 helpings. 


On this day, 60 years later, Gail and I intended to see the dog agility show and to watch the judging of the hogs and cattle and a whole list of other really interesting features. One high priority on our list was to watch the Ohio State Fair Band which is made up of the top musicians from high schools across Ohio..

But today I was sort of troubled.  As someone who has been overweight for some time and trying to lose weight I was rather dismayed by the food midway. There were hundreds of food stands, and many reflected one of the problems we face today in this country.  As we strolled down past the food stands we saw an array of foods which probably should never be put in front of anyone. How many people really need to eat a deep-fried stick of butter,  or “Have you tried the chocolate covered bacon.?”

Next to the Roast Beef Sundae stand where you can get a pile of roast beef in a cup covered by mashed potatoes and gravy...  we found the Krispy Kreme doughnut hamburger.  

Just the thought of those high calorie foods reminded me of a remark that Conan O’Brien made on one of his television shows after visiting Ohio. He said that there was a welcome sign at the State border that said “Welcome to Ohio.   You’re not fat here, Friend.”    While that was funny, it is also tragically true.

I had been thinking a lot about the difference between appetite and hunger.    Certainly hunger needs to be fed, the body seems to require a certain amount to keep operating. But many of us mistake appetite for hunger, that appetite being a craving for something that we mistakenly think is for food, but perhaps it is just masking a craving for something else that we need, or think we need, deep down in our lives. 

Over the years I have found that many of the things that seem to call to us as "pleasure giving" are, to the contrary many times, the source of hurt, anguish, disappointment and fear

Maybe we are craving attention, companionship, beauty, health, wealth, or even just the need to feel loved.  Sometimes, if those seem unachievable, we turn to food to satisfy the craving.    

In whatever form it comes, it can cause disappointment and discouragement.  We probably all know someone who after a major disappointment or stressful situation has resorted to eating for consolation.  Or, the quiet, lonely person who eats as a substitute for companionship

In many instances the identification of a problem is the first step towards solving it.  We can look deep within and see if it is REALLY hunger that would draw us to the Roast Beef Sundae, or that Deep Fried Twinkie.  Or, to see if we HAVE to have that extra hamburger, the giant order of French Fries, or excessive consumption of any food or beverage.

The problem is not just in my native Ohio, of course, but is so widespread that some government entities are making efforts to control the size of soft drink servings and to ban certain foods from school cafeterias to combat obesity.

Unless we address false appetites, none of these "government mandated solutions" will be effective.  We can't stop the availability of these types of appetite appeasers but we can stop the craving.

God, as Divine Love, is constantly supporting our efforts to be God governed, to be the reflection of Love, of tenderness, of unselfishness, when we listen quietly.  Isn’t that what we are here for?  When our hearts and minds are so full of love and caring for others, constantly praying to feel that Love in our hearts, we will no longer need the poor substitutes to curb appetite.  When our thought is directed away from our own SELF we will be fulfilled without even a Twinkie!

I am working on it.   Care to join me?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Flying Lessons

Sitting in the left seat the cockpit of the Cessna 150, engine running brakes on, going through the instrument check, carefully, thoroughly, anticipating what was about to happen, the tiniest bit of apprehension crawling up my neck was the only sign of concern, and I hoped it wasn’t obvious.

Engine check complete, carburetor heat set, wheel chocks pulled, I slowly taxied toward the end of the runway.

What was I thinking when I came here today? Why am I nervous?  I had planned this for a long time. Ever since my days as an air traffic controller in the United States Air Force I had dreamed of being in the left seat, the pilots seat, the Aircraft Commander’s seat… confidently piloting an aircraft on some type of mission. I had just wanted that feeling of power and of freedom and boundless vistas as the U. S. Air Force song boldly states “Off we go into the wild blue yonder, flying high into the sky.”

But now, approaching the end of the runway in an airframe substantially less structurally sound, I feared, than a USAF F102 Delta Dagger, which had been the object of my dreams,  I'm sitting in a Cessna 150, an old two-seater that looks like it may have been through the war itself. This is to be my first flight and the na├»ve flight instructor put me in the left seat, the pilot seat, while he took a position in the passenger seat. Something is all wrong with this picture.

I taxied into position and lined up with the runway. The instructor, Gary, said after the very briefest instructions on takeoff procedure said,  “Okay Chief, it's all yours, let’s take off.” ‘Good Grief', I'm thinking, 'he knows this is my first flight, how can I operate this thing?’ But in the spirit of blind resolve and of fearless airmen everywhere I pushed the throttle forward and went careening down the runway.

I actually made it through that first day. Gary was a terrific flight instructor and was patient with my learning abilities. Over the next few weeks we practiced many maneuvers including putting the airplane into a stall until it started falling out of the sky, which I thought was rather a foolish requirement. But we survived all this until… the lesson to beat all lessons.

On this day we were flying over the southern Ohio countryside when Gary pulled back the throttle to idle and told me we had just lost power and I had best find a place to land.

Now as even beginning pilots are taught to do, I had been looking around for potential landing spots. It’s just something you do in the event that you suddenly need to set down in a hurry.  I picked out a farmer's field and started heading in that direction, with no power of course, gently gliding down, playing Gary’s silly game and confident that he would say, “Okay, good job!!’ before we got much lower.   As the plane lost altitude I was lining up with the field but as we got closer I could see that it had been roughly plowed. I didn't like the thought of the wheels hitting the rough dirt so I made a slight turn towards the farmers yard.

As we continued to descend  I kept saying "Okay now?"... "Okay now?"... "Okay now?" hoping he would throw in the towel.   He was unyielding and continued to hold the throttle back at idle.   As we approached the farmer's house and the sweeping lawn in the front of the house I noticed there were power lines in our approach path so I told Gary, with one last hope of getting out of this predicament, “If I'm really going to land in this yard I would have to put on flaps at this point to clear those wires and proceed in at low-speed.

He said “Well you lost power so do whatever you need to do.”  I put the landing flaps down when I could see that he wasn't going to give up and we were actually going to land.  I steeled myself as we went over the wires and plopped down on the farmer's grassy lawn. A really great landing on grass which was a first for me!!  I was really excited. 

We had almost reached the farmer's house by the time I could get the plane stopped. I thought maybe the house belonged to one of Gary’s friends and that he might want to jump out and say hello.  I turned to Gary,  "Okay what do we do now?" He said, "Well I suggest we get the heck out of here as fast as we can before the farmer comes out of the house!!"    I turned the plane around,  set flaps for short field takeoff so we could get back over the wires, jammed the throttle to the firewall  and took off in a cloud of grass and clover.

Somehow I survived  this and other exciting incidents and learned more valuable lessons on subsequent outings as I flew along without an instructor, having been checked out to fly alone.   A good example of a bad example is about not flying too close to an Air Force Base.  Fighter pilots seem to  love to scare inexperienced light plane pilots by flying so close in front of you that your windshield is filled with fighter plane and you can read the pilot's name on the flight helmet.  At least the pilots of this flight of  two F100s out of Wright Patterson Air Force Base seemed to enjoy it.   It was frightening, although this incident did result in aviation records being set as I managed to climb, descend, turn left and turn right all at the same time.

Still shaking after my close encounter, it's a quick flight back to the airport with tail between my legs to make a proper landing on a real runway, to relax and update my Pilot’s Log.  

 Another great day of flying. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Night of the Raccoon

Just when you think you're ready to settle down for a good night’s sleep it seems that something always comes up. In this case it has to do with the Doxy brothers, Lucky and Bo-Bo, our two little Dachshund troublemakers.

There I was getting the house settled down for the night, having let the Doxy brothers out for one last roam around the yard when I heard sound of the dogs barking and howling, screeching whining and other unintelligible noises. I went to the door to try to entice them back in but they would have none of it. It was just turning dark and I could tell that they were in the backyard, just short of the woods, close to the duck pond that I had built when we raised ducks.

I decided to walk down into the yard, or run rather, to get them motivated to return but I quickly realized this was going to call for more extreme measures. They were absolutely having a fit and I was concerned about going further without knowing what was going on.

So Daddy, being the good Doggie Daddy that he is, ran back into the house and found the high-powered flashlight and a pistol, my 38 police special.   Funny, me with a pistol,since I've never shot anything and never would.  But I do use the pistol once in a while, shooting into the air to get the dogs to come inside. They seem to shy away from gunfire and after one round is discharged they are usually at the door trying to squeeze through the screen or pressed up against the wall like paint on a board.

By this time I had lost my sense of calm and found myself scrambling out the back door, flashlight and weapon in hand,  heart racing, charging off into the darkness.   And Yep, there they were, standing at pond side, soaking wet, barking furiously while one sweet little innocent raccoon face showed just above the water line. He was up to his head in the pond and all I could see was his little paws treading water and wide open frightened eyes pleading to be saved.  My heart went out to the little guy.     Of course my stern command to the dogs to go inside was met by looks of incredulity and I could almost see the disdain and loss of faith in Daddy as Pack Leader written on their wet little snouts 

Then, presumably because the little raccoon could see things getting worse, going from having two dogs barking at him to having an oversized human glaring down with light and pistol, he decided to take his chances on escape and scrambled out of the duck pond and off in the woods. The two doxies, being undeterred by a mere raccoon and glares and shouts from Pack Leader took off in chase, followed by a large human form of excess avoirdupois stumbling awkwardly through the woods firing a pistol into the air.  At this point think of Laurel and Hardy!! 

In the following few moments I learned several things.
   First:  Raccoons and dachshunds are very short. They seemed oblivious to the tree limbs, the thorny vines and the numerous spider webs strung between the branches of trees on the non-path that I was following.
    Second: Little dachshund and raccoon feet are pretty nimble and the roots of the trees don't hinder their progress, cause them to trip or even say things they are not proud of.
   Third: How hilarious this scene this was with Daddy running through the woods, not knowing where the “pursuees”  were, running in pitch dark through fairly thick woods and realizing that I had not bothered to put on my shoes but was running in my sock feet and short pants.

Suddenly… SILENCE, that loudest of all troubling sounds.   

With resignation, I turned around and started back for the house. It was rather disquieting with all dog and raccoon sounds silenced, the deep darkness of the woods and me with no idea about what had happened to my precious doggies nor the raccoon.    I was really worried.  To add to the confusion, as I reached the house I saw that a  car had pulled up our long driveway and was sitting at the top of the hill in front of our house, lights on but no one getting out. I thought, ‘That’s all I need right now.’   Maybe it was the police checking out reports of gunshots or maybe it was just a neighbor checking to see what was happening up at our little Hilltop Farm.

 At this point I suddenly came to my senses and remembered a quotation from my favorite author Mary Baker Eddy who, in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures noted, “Man is harmonious when governed by Soul."  Soul is one of the synonyms she uses to describe God.    That simple thought/prayer quieted me down and I began to turn to my trust in God that he was governing the situation.  After all I reasoned, if life is not appearing to be harmonious at this moment, I must not be experiencing God's government and letting God lead me.   I needed to get my Self  and my fears and concerns out of the way and let God do the "governing."   And it was a good time to remember one of my favorite quotes from the Bible that  "Perfect Love casts out fear." I John 4:18.   WHEW!!!!!

With that thought and a look back at what had just transpired I got a different perspective on the situation.  I am a person who finds something to laugh about in most situations, even when it isn’t necessarily sociably acceptable.   I started to laugh. What a picture it must've been if anyone had been watching the wild antics in the woods..

I was still laughing when I reached the front porch and as I climbed the steps I saw my two doxies standing by the door, looking at me, as if to say, “Daddy, why in the world were you running around in the woods at this time of night.  You should be in bed"!!   The strange car had departed and I was alone with my dogs.

And so to bed, to thank God for His ever present Love and protection and to pray for the welfare of the precious  little raccoon, whose bright eyes and bandit mask are surely on another mission in our back woods.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Urgent... or Important?

One of life's great temptations is to substitute the Urgent for the Important.

I was talking to a co-worker one day a few years ago and she asked me if I was working on urgent or important issues. I confess that I was confused since I hadn't really considered the difference. Weren’t Urgent things Important? Weren’t Important things Urgent?

After some deep thought I did begin to see the difference. As I looked around at my staff I could see them frantically replying to e-mail messages, attending meetings, filing documents, writing memos and a plethora of  busywork tasks. 

Weren't all these things important? Well, these things may all need to be done at some point but in reviewing the accomplishments of very effective people it's easy to see that they spend their time on Important things and leave the Urgent things in the Inbox. No matter how many Urgent things are taken out of the Inbox, there will be more tomorrow!!! 

In her book, Miscellaneous Writings, the famous religious author, Mary Baker Eddy commented about wasting time said, “Rushing about smartly is no sign of accomplishing much.” Oftentimes we mistake busywork for productivity. 

As I looked around the office that day, seeing all of the employees glued to their PCs, I thought of how things were a few years back. Instead of endless cell phone conversations, using social media, answering email messages and text messages within 10 seconds of their arrival, people spent their time thinking, planning, developing strategy, setting goals and working towards them.

How do you rate on separating Urgent from Important? Have you ever been trying to think deeply or meditate when all of a sudden it becomes vitally important to dust off the desk? Or when really working towards a worthwhile task suddenly realize that the flowers need watering right away, or you just realized you need a gallon of milk from the grocery? The Urgent always tries to distract from the Important.

What are Important things? Well this is certainly something that is individual to each of us.

In many cases the Important things have to do with reaching out a helping hand or being a friend when someone is hurting.

Certainly making a living is Important, but even that should be kept in bounds and not take over as the most Important thing in our lives.  You hardly ever meet someone that is retired who says that they wish they had spent more time at the office when they were working!!

Devoting time to be with your children or grandchildren is Important, even if the Golf Channel is showing a great match.


Reaching out to the elderly or needy, or serving your church, synagogue, temple or mosque, or serving with a volunteer group whose goals are to enrich the lives of others, despite the politics or inconvenient time of day or any of the thousands of good excuses, are Important.

Many times just a smile and a warm “Hello”, or a silent prayer to see another as God’s loved child despite the outward appearance, is the most IMPORTANT thing that you could do.

For many, no matter what religion they practice, time spent in learning more about how to express God's infinite qualities of Love, Peace, Intelligence and Kindness are key to achieving their life goal.

The Litmus Test is: At the end of the day, do you feel that you have accomplished something worthwhile, and have not just spent another day on the treadmill?