Thursday, August 7, 2014

Changing gears - challenging, perhaps

OK, here we go.  I have a friend, indeed, lots of friends, and a few of them write articles that tend to blow me away.   I have a favorite expression, "I didn't know that." and today, I finally got around to read one of the most fascinating articles I have read in a long, long time.

My friend, the author, is Tom Reid, and I emphatically encourage you to read his columns that come once a week from -  OK, you are beyond such knowledge, I hear you, but I would like to remind you that you have lots of younger ones who look up to you as a sense of encouragement and Tom can help you become a "wizard" in their eyes.  And if you do not have such a following, what else are you doing that is more important?

OK, lecture over.  His most recent article deals with resilience, if you ask me, a forgotten commodity in this age of people with opinions who seem to ignore it.  The article was seven pages long - from my computer, so there is a lot of meat in it.  I have always thought of myself as a resilient person as I have experienced a lot more "downs" than "ups" in my life.  I had to ask, where did I get that, and my memory went back to an experience when I was just a little over three years of age.  My sister had just been born and it was the heart of the "Great Depression" years. My grandmother had ridden a Greyhound bus from Port Huron, MI, to Lakewood, OH, to be with her daughter and family to experience the birth of her first grand daughter.  And she decided that since it was "tough" times for everyone, she could help by taking her first grand son (Me!) home with her to the farm where there was plenty to eat and lots of places for the youngster to play. 

I suppose I agreed with her as - to hear her repeat it, over and over again in the years that followed, "He stood up on that bus - peering out the window, all the way home."  In my opinion, she was rather proud of me, but in my "heart of hearts" I knew that in her heart she nursed the memory of her second son who had been still born.  But with that incident ringing in my ears and the love of my grandparents that has endured until this very hour, I headed out into the world.

It would require persistence!  I had quit high school early in my Senior year to enlist in the U.S. Army Air Corps, so that I might qualify for the WWII "GI Bill of Rights".  Now, basic training completed, I found myself on board a troop ship, sailing out of the harbor in New York, destined for duty in Japan, an experience that would last for nearly 53 months.  What did I know?  All I could tell them of my work experiences was that I knew how to milk cows and drive tractors.  So, I wound up driving tractors so I could park trailers in the Motor Pool at JAMA.  Good fortune began to follow me as I would be transferred to another base and met a Sergeant I have never forgotten. Max McGee, from Oklahoma.  He promised me that if I paid attention to what he was doing, I would replace him when he returned to the States.  I did and he was true to his word.  What he would teach me was the benefits of resilience - Tom's subject.

Tom is right on.  He talks about the uniforms worn by UPS drivers, a requirement that reminds them, hour by hour, daily, of their need to be resilient, even in the face of raging storms and adversities of all sorts, their commitment was to deliver their packages on time and as a result, the company has become an enormous success around the world.

That took me back to my first days in Japan, a nation that only a few short months previous to our arrival, was at war with our homeland.  Many of theirs had killed many of ours.  The Colonel whose task it was to remind us of our obligations to "rage" peace with all of the resilience our soldiers had demonstrated in raging "war" in their day.  We learned a great lesson that day and I am so proud to have been part of that force that seldom veered from our objective.

So, that word - resilience, means a lot to me and as I would spend many years recruiting and placing new employees on their new jobs, I would try to remind them of their obligations - that each would face in the years to come.

As a matter of fact, I used to offer my opinion when speakers would go and on about the need to be motivated in the work place, I would remind others that at the heart of that word motivation, were two essential keys to success.  The first was heredity and that was determined by the extent to which an individual was born into a family of folks who actually cared about their offspring.  In my years of experience, I still believe in the validity of that opinion.  They are the ones who demonstrate the quality of resilience, but there are others who can can provide it as well.  I never really understood my Uncle who was a few years older than I was, as we shared our lives on the farm which he would eventually leave to \insure a future for his children.  I guess I never really understood his love for his wife and children, but looking back, it is easy for me to see the many opportunities I missed just by not observing his life.

Tom Reid, on the other hand, has provided so many examples of lives - well lived, who faced as many if not more, of the adversities that are common place in life.   My hero, the man who wrote a book and had me in tears as I turned its pages was Victor Frankl, whose book, "Man's Search for Meaning" ought to be in the library of every individual who has ever considered what others have had to endure, just to have another day of this experience we call life.  A Jew, headed for the gas chambers that would become the eventual fate of so many of his fellow believers, for no crime worse than they just believed in God, looks at his internment and offers all of us a picture of what it ought to mean, just to draw breath.

As I look back on my own life, I grieve at the thought that I lived most of my years with an attitude that since I had been blessed in so many ways, someone, somehow, owed me.  Could I describe what it was that I was owed?  No way.  I have had a close look at life and have learned that I was among the most fortunate.  Later this month I hope to experience my 85th birthday and until then and for as more days as I am enabled to live, my goal is to encourage others to actually live each day - on purpose.   Above all, be resilient.  Yes, I read the newspapers, I watch TV, I listen to the radio, I hear those voices - wanting us to whine about the changes that are taking place in this land that most of us love and have loved for a lifetime.  Change, dear friends, is inevitable.  Doubt me and it becomes apparent, you haven't been looking into a mirror recently.

And worse, you have yet to learn that change has been your opportunity to make a difference. You have a life that will be remembered.  To some you will be honored.  To others you might be ignored, but as we finally close our eyes, let us all be thankful, we were given an opportunity to be that difference.

1 comment:

  1. Resilience - the ability to "bounce back". Our folks and grand-folks understood that it's impossible to bounce back if we think we are "owed" something, or carefully cultivate a private offense, or listen to voices that degrade us by appealing to our own selfish nature. Lacking resilience, we become as useless as salt that has lost its saltiness, becoming good-for-nothing except as life-poisoning highway material. May it never be.
    No, we press on to the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, considering ALL that we have, good or bad, salt or sand, to be rubbish for the sake of the redemptive, and resilient Gospel of Christ!!