I’ve decided to stop listening to the news.
Another day brings another crazy action by our president or news of a fresh terrorist act.
It was not doing me any good to learn of another bad thing happening.
(I’m not making this a 100% rule… I am willing to learn what’s happening, but I don’t necessarily need to know the details. And part of my job requires me to be on top of what’s up, at least locally.)
Instead, I’m trying to focus on good things:
- When I ride my bicycle on some local trails, I benefit from the work of trails maintenance people who evened out many of the dips and jolts between concrete slabs.
- I live in a town where it’s possible to ride my bike to work.
- There’s easy access to health care here. My daughter and son were attacked by poison oak recently, and they were able to easily get treatment. We paid cash (no insurance involved), and it was just $40 for each visit.
- I live in a country where I can visit the church of my choice freely and not worry about government officials arresting me.
- I have a warm and dry place to live.
- My family is healthy (now that poison oak is almost history).
- I have a job that I love.
I could go on. And should.
The idea of focusing on the good is not my own. I give credit to another Paul — see here.
A few weeks back, we visited my son at his university. This was significant — our first-born was graduating from college.
He gave us a tour of several significant sites, such as the classroom where he discovered that business was not the program of study to prepare him for a life of professional fulfillment.
Another site of significance was a building where he spent a huge number of hours studying. As we visited the top floor and looked into the courtyard, I was amused to see a large collection of paper airplanes sitting on nearly every surface that could not be easily reached.
And I laughed.
What better way to celebrate that vast interior space than watching a paper airplane take flight?
Sure, it may take quite a bit of effort to retrieve those planes. But maybe leaving them up on those lofty places will serve as a reminder that life is not all about studies and classes and achievements.
A moment of seeing a simple folded piece of paper float down and down can only bring delight.
Sometimes things in life don’t get better. Or they do, but not on our timetable.
I ride my bicycle to work once or twice a week. My bike’s skinny tires and thin rims transmit variations in the road surface very accurately to my palms and rear end.
During the past four months, the city of Centennial tore up a road that’s part of my commute. It was much better before the destruction than after.
Maybe they will repave the whole road, but I am not expecting that to happen anytime soon.
So it is in our lives… injuries happen. We lose our jobs. People leave. Things happen that are the exact opposite of what we’d choose.
And then situations don’t always change the way we’d like.
But all is not lost. Sometimes we grow stronger because of a difficult situation.
One of the most inspiring people I know has a physical challenge that makes communication difficult. But she has not let that get in her way. She runs circles around many people who don’t face the challenges she does.
I’m not going to say, “Look for the silver lining.” You might be so deep in your challenge that a silver lining is not even on the far horizon.
One reality that I’ve found is God’s way of fixing stuff that appears unfixable. Ask God. Why not… what do you have to lose? (My caveat is that God is not a magic button that you push to get instant results. God’s timetable is usually different than ours.)
As to bad roads, one upside was remembering that the worst roads in Centennial, Colorado, are better than the best roads in some other places I’ve lived.
And one of the silver linings in my life is my son Ben. Today is his 21st birthday. Things got better when he arrived. (Sometimes it does get better.)
I had a free week.
I won a visitor’s pass to a luxury athletic club not far from where I work. It was like getting to test drive a Ferrari — something mere mortals like me rarely experience.
If I were to rate the establishment on Google, I’d probably give it 5 stars. But would I ever join? No.
One simple barrier keeps me from making that part of my lifestyle… I can’t afford it.
Yes, it was great to put my clothes in a mahogany-faced locker. I loved the gourmet shampoo and body wash (in two flavors). I liked the fact that I could get a few free initial consultations with a professional trainer, so I could learn how to exercise better.
But for approximately five times what 24-Hour Fitness charges, I can’t justify the hit to our monthly expenses.
Heck, I can’t even justify 24-Hour Fitness at the moment.
Gotta stick with free bicycle commutes.
(I took the photo from the balcony, overlooking the tennis courts.)
I don’t do teeth whitening.
Before you read further, please understand that I am not judging anyone who likes to do teeth whitening. This is merely a description of my personal journey.
The photo above is my teeth — altered by Photoshop. Reality is dark, stained teeth that have seen years of coffee drinking, tetracycline ingestion as a kid, and general abuse. (However, many of you know that I am a fan of toothpaste.)
Why don’t I invest in making my teeth whiter?
- Time. It would either require a laborious application of teeth-whitening strips or several visits to a dentist. And then, a year from now, more of the same.
- Money. Strips are expensive, and visits to the dentist for whitening are more so.
- Lack of caring about cultural trends. I don’t care enough about what our culture values to participate in this particular exercise.
- Saving the whales. Studies have shown that excessive use of white strips causes stunted growth in fetal whales, from the chemicals being washed out to sea and entering plankton.
Well, that last one is made up.