Decisions

I watched a movie a few nights ago about the writer Ernest Hemingway, probably the most influential writer of his time. Many of his works are considered classics of American literature. In 1964 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature. But despite all his success and fame he was a troubled man. He made some awful decisions. His final one was to end his life with a shotgun.

In poker, decisions really matter. A big part of the game is inducing your opponents to make mistakes. Good and bad decisions can make the difference between sudden death or sitting behind a commanding stack of chips. It’s said, poker is a microcosim of life itself. It’s true and part of the reason I love the game so much. Still to be determined though, is whether my investment in it has been a good… or a bad decision.

I created this blog primarily to leave a little behind for my children and grandchildren… and who knows… maybe even my grandchildren’s children will get something out of this as well. It’s a big part of why I’ve been involved in documenting our family history and my interest in genealogy. It’s all part of being the designated story teller. The younger generations generally speaking  have little interest for what the older has to say. It usually isn’t until you’ve grown older yourself that you come to appreciate the wisdom and the value of the thoughts of those that came before us. Often, when we finally realize the error of our ways, it’s too late. As I grew older I learned how seemingly small decisions ended up having surprisingly enormous life-changing consequences.

There are the mundane decisions of what to wear today and what to eat, when might I do this, and when might I do that? But other decisions, like what you choose to do for a vocation, where you choose to go to school, where you eventually choose to make your home and of course — who you choose to marry — are obvious in their ramifications. But some of us fail to give even those the consideration they deserve. Bad decision!

In choosing where to live some people stay close to their roots, never venturing far from home. Me? When I joined the Air Force I wanted to get as far away as I possibly could. I can’t recall why exactly. Maybe it was the spirit of adventure and the thought of heading west to unexplored territory. I’m sure the palm trees, sunshine and the glitz and glamour of Hollywood had a little to do with my decision as well. But I did manage to go as far west as anywhere the continental U.S. allows. Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Yes I found new places and spaces, and new friends that I otherwise wouldn’t have had, but in doing that, and with other decisions that followed, there developed a large gap between my roots and my extended family. For much of my adult years, I lived in the moment. Bad decisions!

I’ve lost count the number of career opportunities that came my way as my days in the Air Force were coming to an end. Everything from firefighting to the California Highway Patrol to Air Traffic Controller were reasonable possibilities. All of which would have been dramatic life-changing decisions. But I’d long before had chosen what I thought would be my life’s vocation, I was set in my ways. That too may have been a bad decision. And that’s my thought for the day…

“You make a decision kid, make it carefully. Know what you truly want. Consider every possible consequence or you’ll wind up at 59 wondering, what the hell happened?” ~~ Ernest Hemingway (Adrian Sparks), from the movie Papa Hemingway in Cuba

                                                        ℘

Uncharted Territory and the Road Ahead

Whatever challenges you may face, whatever circumstances are weighing you down you can choose your response…. How you live your life is totally up to you.  It’s not dependent on your circumstances, it’s dependent on your choices. ~~ Joel Osteen

I have a young, teenaged friend “CJ” who over the last eight months I’ve come to know. He was far from his home, family and friends and looking for a new life. I like him. He’s tall, 6’4″ personable and outgoing. An all-American kidCJ002a  from a small town in south-central Texas (population 857). He’s been referred to as an “18-year old man.” The reality is he’s just a kid and, like a lot of 18-year olds, restless, self-assured, a little cocky, but naïve nevertheless. CJ has no lack of confidence. The last few times I’ve seen him (most recently earlier this week), as we said goodbye, I would routinely say to him — somewhat tongue-in-cheek — “Stay out of trouble CJ!” He’d reply with something like “All is good” and be on his way. Little did we realize how much trouble he would soon find himself in. Life has a way of changing dramatically with the passage of a few brief moments and seemingly unrelated, foolish choices.

Yesterday my young friend was charged with Murder in the First Degree accused with a 20-year old companion, whom he’d just met, in the brutal bludgeoning death of a man in a nearby community. This is new, uncharted territory for me, something I was unprepared for. I find myself uncertain how to react and even a bit lost for the right words. How I wish I could have seen the road ahead! I feel bad that I didn’t do more. I should have contacted CJ’s parents as I watched his downward spiral. No… things aren’t always as they appear. But instead I chose to think, “He’s a good kid, he’ll grow up. It’s a stage. He can take care of himself.”

CJ and I sat together and talked a lot, many times while I worked on previous blogs. I enjoyed his company. It was an education to learn from him the distractions, challenges and temptations he and his peers live with. I already knew about most of them but, with CJ we talked specifics.

While I honestly worried about his welfare, I had faith in his abilities to conquer his youthful impulses and to find for himself the right path. From his narrow perspective and among his crowd, he was “normal … things are cool.” I understood his thinking but I knew it wasn’t true and I told him so. In CJ I saw potential — rays of hope — and a better life ahead, but ultimately I knew he was in control, as he liked it, as he wanted it. Besides, is it really any of my business? I have my own problems, my own children and who am I? Especially when CJ and I really have so little in common? But then again, No Man is an Island and CJ will remain my friend.

One thing in all of this is certain… no one should forget the victim, Rich Bergeson, whose life was brutally and so needlessly taken and to whom the video at the link below pays tribute. The reality is, there are many other victims as well. Along with all the affected families and friends whose lives would intersect in such a tragic meeting, I am but one of them, and together we cry, knowing our lives will never again be the same.

Another day of work, another paycheck. The future is looking bright.
Christopher John “CJ” Shade, 20 August 2014

Click on this link for more about this story

Choose How To Start Your Day

I loved this story from the time I first found it several years ago.  It’s author is unknown.  I hope you enjoy it!

Michael is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, “If I were any better, I would be twins!”  He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Michael was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Michael and asked him, “I don’t get it! You can’t be a positive person all of the time.  How do you do it?”  Michael replied, “Each morning I wake up and say to myself, Mike, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood. I choose to be in a good mood.”

“Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me  complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life.” Continue reading