“WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?”
Did you ever pass a newly opened small business — nicely decorated but with only a nondescript sign to tell you what is happening inside — and wonder, “What’s in there that might interest me?” For example, “Jim’s Place” would not automatically sound like a good bet for me, as I do now know Jim and have no idea what he might sell at his place. I picture myself taking the time to stop, get out of my car, approach the building, and turn the handle on the curtained door, only to be met with a quizzical glance from Jim, a purveyor of cigars, antique car parts, or some other item I would find irrelevant to my state of being. On the other hand, he might have the most wonderful musical instruments, books, or other fascinating items inside. I just don’t know…
I assume you have a similar sense of “What’s in it for me?” in these situations, which may include books with nice covers that could be full of things you would really like or totally despise. If so, allow me to offer you a glimpse inside my latest published work. I am sharing insights into the first five of the thirty chapters in Up is Just Backwards When You’re on the Way Down: Thirty doses of wit and wisdom on staying upright. They are designed to encourage, inspire, and challenge.
SUNSHINE IS FOR EVERYONE, FIRE FOR A FEW
Ah, the warmth of the sunshine! One of the few things left on earth that is free is the benefit of that great glowing orb in the blue sky. Thus far, no government has found a way to tax it or to ration it out. If you can get to it, you can enjoy as much sunshine as you want. (Just remember the sunscreen.)
Fire, on the other hand, requires some effort. We are not told exactly when fire became part of the human experience, though our impression is that man has always warmed himself in that manner. The earliest specific references to fire in the Bible come from chapters 19 and 22 in Genesis. The first reference speaks of fire from Heaven raining on Sodom and Gomorrah, and the second reference mentions fire for the impending sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham (when God tested Abraham before providing a ram for the sacrifice).
We know that fire requires effort. Wood must be gathered (or chopped and split), laid in order, and lit by some source of flame or heat—unless you have one of those push-button, flame-throwing, gas-burning fireplaces. But I digress …
UP IS JUST BACKWARDS WHEN YOU’RE ON THE WAY DOWN
Have you ever been lost? I mean the scary kind of lost that says, “I have no idea where to go from here.” I am not talking about the feeling of, “Where in the world of this vast Walmart parking lot is my car?” I am asking if you have ever felt the kind of lost that says, “If they don’t come looking for me soon, this is going to make the papers!”
There is no more helpless feeling, I suppose. It hasn’t happened to me more than once that I can remember, but it left a memory of fear when the familiar woods where I played began to look frightening and strange when it was time to get home.
When you are lost, things happen differently in how you relate to the world around you. Reason and intellect can assure you that a particular direction has to be right. But, taking off in that direction (instead of staying put, as all the scouting and survival manuals tell us to do) only leads further into hopelessness. Often, lost people who were later found had simply gotten turned around yet were convinced they were going the right way. The innate directional signals that should have helped them reach familiar territory got scrambled in their minds. At that point, they could not believe their map, compass, spouse, or…well, you get the picture, I am sure …
THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS ME…NOW
“Yeah, I did that, but I was much younger, then — just a kid, really. I like to think I have a little wisdom on me now…don’t I?”
We may as well face it: we care how others see us; what they think of the choices we have made and the things we have done. If some example of our being less than wise is brought up, we are quick to put some distance between us now and the person who could have done that then. After all, we are allowed a few missteps in the teen and early adult years, right?
But, what if “then” was just last week?
What if we hurt someone’s feelings, forgot an important event, yelled at our kids, or jumped in front of an older lady in the check-out line because we were running late? And what if we did those things, like…yesterday?
What if we can’t put distance between ourselves and our less-than-stellar actions?
Maybe the more important question is, “Why do we want so badly to distance ourselves anyway?”
Perhaps because our actions seem to define who we are. We crave to be validated by others, to be part of a bigger group, to have others simply like us. The smile or chuckle we get from listeners for a comment we intended to be funny lets us know it was well-received. A blank stare or raised eyebrows says it was totally off-point and poorly timed. Our feelings about those responses weigh heavily on even the most independent, introverted among us …
HOW TO SCRUB YOUR BATHROOM FLOOR IN 30 EASY STEPS:
Ladies, be sure to keep this handy for reference — you will want to try this at least once.
1) Start deep cleaning the kitchen and doing laundry.
2) Notice your cell-phone ringing.
3) Try to ignore it because you are on a serious roll with this cleaning.
4) Side-eye the phone and observe the number is your 76-year-old mother’s mobile phone.
5) Remember, she always uses her land-line phone from home, unless something goes wrong …
FOUR MINUTES THAT CHANGED THE WORLD
- True ____ False ____ An inch is a large unit of measure.
The answer is obvious…isn’t it?
This was an actual question on a Physical Science exam during my freshman year in college — possibly a final, since I remember vividly my agitated state of mind upon reading it. After all, it cost me what could have been a perfect score and helped earn only my second “B” at the school (the first was in Volleyball, but enough said about that).
I was only in the class because of a foul-up on the part of my academic advisor (another story in itself) resulting in my having to abandon the biology minor I had invested three courses in pursuing. Physical science seemed downright hokey to me after sailing through zoology and botany. Adding to my somewhat wounded pride was the undeniable fact that I simply did not like the instructor. He seemed to teach at a level of challenge designed to keep the university’s sports teams winning, with or without the players having to apply themselves academically.
With such a positive mindset, the exam question asking whether an inch was a large unit of measure set my brain to screaming, “COMPARED TO WHAT???!!! MILES OR MICRONS???!!!” With a fifty percent chance of getting that one right, as you might guess, I did not. I can’t remember which I chose but probably checked “True,” just to make my point.
Great choice …
THE REST OF THE STORY
Here are the titles to the other chapters, or doses, if you will…
WHAT’S UP WITH HIM??
FROM COLORS TO CHEMISTRY, FROM ADDITION TO ALGEBRA
THE SAGA OF SALLY
TWO THINGS I BET YOU CAN’T DO AT ONE TIME
THAT’S WHAT YOU GET!
JUST DON’T PLAN ON DOING ANYTHING TOMORROW
WHEN YOU HAVE TIME
WHAT ARE YOU HERE TO DO?
HOW DO YOU WALK ON WATER?
WHAT GETS TO YOU?
WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST FAITH MEMORY?
GOD WITH HIS SKIN ON?
“ARE YOU GOING TO EAT THAT?”
FENCE OR GUARDRAIL?
THE TRUE WONDER OF THE SEASON
MY HEART ON CHRISTMAS EVE, 2013
CHECK IT OUT!
THE SHOW-ME STATE…OF MIND
SOMETHING FOR NOTHING?
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR WATER?
THE CLOSING OF THE DOOR
WELL, WHAT IS IT GOING TO BE?