Charisma

Charisma: (n) compelling attractiveness or charm

I just finished a performance.

I don’t think the audience liked me.

The money was bad; the response was tepid and nobody was particularly interested in purchasing my books.

So I asked myself, what did I do wrong?

Always our first inclination. Where is my fault in the matter? It is an agonizing process, but without it, vanity can make us intolerable.

You know what the truth of the matter is? The people who sat and listened may have been with their moms and dads years and years ago and heard one of the parents comment or joke about a heavy-set man walking by, portraying that he was less than acceptable.

Maybe that person just never forgot that little drama. Maybe he or she found themselves trapped in a response that was not his or her own, but so ingrained that it popped out without permission.

Charisma is such a wicked maze of misunderstanding.

For after all, one man’s “beautiful” is another man’s “plain.” And one woman’s “gentle” is another woman’s “boring.”

So what’s the best we can do?

Find our gift, work on our gift, share our gift in good cheer.

For lo and behold, anybody who would benefit from knowing us will certainly find us.

 

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Chain Reaction

Chain reaction: (n) a series of events, each caused by the previous one.

I have never found a pear on an apple tree. This seems like a trivial statement. But you see, there are many things in nature which we accept
as true, but never apply them to our personal lives.

For example:

I’ve never received respect by being mean. Fear, perhaps–but never respect.

I’ve never been productive by being timid.

I’ve never achieved good romance by being selfish.

I’ve never acquired money by sitting on my treasure chest, guarding it from thieves.

Life is filled with chain reactions. It is not limited to the elements becoming compounds. It includes the ability to look inside yourself and see the fodder that fosters failure and call out the standards that salute success.

Life is a chain reaction.

I have boarded a bus in the middle of downtown America–a vehicle full of sullen, preoccupied people–greeted the bus driver with a smile, kindly addressed one or two people nearby, and in no time at all, a chain reaction went through the bus, and conversation ensued.

I am powerful.

You are powerful.

I can view my life as a catalyst for creativity, or I can become a whiny, cautionary voice of worry and concern. The choice is mine. But either way, there will be a chain reaction.

It’s not so much that if a bear farts in the woods of Minnesota, rain falls in Brazil–but rather, if a bear farts in the woods of Minnesota, is he conscientious enough to excuse himself so the squirrels don’t get cranky and have a bad day?

 

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Cement

Cement: (n) a powdery substance used to make concrete.

I was young. My idealism and passion were running far ahead of my common sense.

I met a fellow who wanted to start his own construction company. He explained that he had the knowledge–just not the bucks. An
opportunity had come his way to lay down the cement for a very large driveway.

All he lacked was the front money.

I was not totally stupid. I inquired of him. I asked him if he knew how to do the job–if he had any previous experience.

After about half an hour, I was convinced that all the gentleman needed was the chance to get his seed money so he could do the task and therefore give himself a decent start on a new career.

Matter of fact, he invited me to come down and watch him lay the concrete. So I did.

The truck arrived, poured out the cement. But my friend did not have enough workers to spread it out and smooth it down, so it began to harden–lumpy, uneven and just generally ugly.

I watched as he became frantic and finally gave up, as the cement refused to be pushed around anymore.

It was a disaster. Not only did he lose the money I gave him, but the client demanded that he make restitution and pay another contractor to do the job.

I learned three things that day:

  1. If you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t invest in it.
  2. Passion is no replacement for experience.
  3. Cement hardens much quicker than we want it to.

 

 

 

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Caddie

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Caddie: (n) a person who carries a golfer’s clubs

Mike was always trying to figure out ways to make money. He was a fifteen-year-old entrepreneur before anybody was prepared to spell or
pronounce the word.

He liked me.

Now, Mike weighed about 122 pounds. I also weighed 122 pounds–but stored 150 more as a backup. So Mike had a lot of stamina. I just had a lot.

Mike had the brilliant idea of going to the new golf course just outside our town and offering his service as a caddie to our limited supply of financially successful people. He did it for two or three weekends, and came back with… cash.

At fifteen years of age, I so infrequently saw money that it seemed almost mystical and certainly magical.

Mike convinced me that I should take my 270-plus pounds and go out with him the next weekend to caddie at the golf center. He explained that it was nothing more than going on a long walk. (I should have realized at that point that it had been many years since I had been on a long walk. My personal preference was a long drive.)

But I agreed and arrived at the gold course at 8:00 A. M. sharp to carry the bags for Mr. Fundergetz. Now, I’m sure that’s not his real name, but he said it with a German accent so quickly that the best I could ascertain was “Fundergetz.” Most of the morning I opted to call him “sir.”

I had not realized that golf courses were measured in yards–and this was before anyone had thought about using a golf cart. By the time I reached the third hole, carrying the bags and trying to keep up with Fundergetz, I was panting, sweating down the insides of my legs and so flushed in the face that he became concerned for me and asked me to sit down while he ran and got some ice for my forehead.

After a few moments of recuperation, I said, “I’m fine now, and it won’t be too much longer, right?”

At this point, Fundergetz explained to me that it was an eighteen-hole golf course and we were only one-sixth of the way through.

Noting the fear on my face, my trembling brow and a tear coming to the corner of my eye, he showed mercy on me, handed me two dollars and asked if I could make it back to the clubhouse on my own.

I was so humiliated.

Mike was so disappointed.

I was completely emasculated by the whole experience.

So when I arrived back at the clubhouse to complete my restoration, I got two hot dogs, a coke and a Baby Ruth candy bar.

It is amazing how good they made me feel.

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Busk

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Busk: (v) to play music or perform for voluntary donations in the street or in subways.

What is sacred?

Or for that matter, is there anything sacred?

Is Earth so earthy that everything is earthen?

Is there anything of heavenly quality on a miniscule planet orbiting in the midst of an immense Universe?

We certainly think there are sacred things–and it’s not limited to those who have a religious swing to their club.

No, everyone, in their own way, will make it clear to you what they perceive to be so important that it must never, ever be ignored, criticized or portrayed in an unseemly way.

The Muslims insist Mohammed is sacred. No pictures. No criticisms. No embellishment in any way, shape or form.

Some Christians are still that way about Jesus, but the Nazarene has certainly been allowed to tiptoe through darker halls of speculation.

Some people think money is sacred. Just ask them for some. They will explain in vivid detail how separation from finance is the true definition of being cast into outer darkness.They will walk by a musician busking on the thoroughfare and deem the musical effort to be glorified begging instead of allowing some humanity to dribble from them as they realize that this individual who loves music is merely trying to find a way to subsist while doing it.

The list goes on and on.

Motherhood.

Some people consider their sexuality to be sacred.

On Sundays in the autumn months, football is a sacred rite of passage in the United States. If you don’t believe so, factor this in–it comes complete with wings and fantasy leagues.

When I sat down to write this essay, I asked myself, what do I think is sacred?

I know the answer. But I’m afraid to speak it out loud for fear that people will accuse me of “busking” a foolish idea. Or worse, that I will be expected to revere my own assertion.

Yet I believe the only thing that’s sacred is the way I treat the next person I meet.

 

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Bunk Bed

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Bunk bed: (n) a piece of furniture consisting of two beds, one above the other, that form a unit.

Ralph had a good job and therefore had some money.

This was rare in our hometown area, where the local gospel singers who aspired to be superstars in the cavalcade of heavenly tunes were normally poor, with dreams the only stuffing in their heads.

I was one of those poor ones.

But Ralph had some money. So his quartet went out and bought a bus, and Ralphie Boy signed for it. It was a 4104 Greyhound, which I’m sure will mean nothing to you unless you can conjure the image of the transportation of that era. If you can muster a picture of a Greyhound, it more than likely is a 4104.

Did I mention that Ralph was also a carpenter? So he ripped the seats out and built the insides to look like a little home, complete with four bunk beds for traveling nights, which might require some sleeping.

Everybody who had a pitch pipe and desired to sing four-part harmony bounced between admiring Ralph and his bus and being envious that they were not in his quartet.

But he was generous and let people come along on little trips so they could say they had been in the magic chariot.

I went on one such trip. It was an “overnighter,” so I got to sleep in the bunk.

It was at that precise moment in that particular location, with my chubby frame wedged into a tiny bunk, that I realized I was claustrophobic. What started out as a night of dreams and new opportunities left me terrorized that the bunk just above me was going to suddenly give way, come crashing down and suffocate me, probably to death.

When we finished the trip, Ralph asked me how I enjoyed it, and being a polite Midwestern boy, I said it was absolutely amazing–but that I was a little scared of the bunk beds.

Ralph thought that was hilarious–so funny that he decided to share it with everybody he ever came in contact with.

So from that point on, no matter what the activity, people would walk up, pat me on the shoulder and say, “By the way, you can relax. There won’t be any bunks.”

 

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Build

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Build: (v) to construct something by putting parts or material together

What should the question be?

Is it what I build?

How I build?

Where I build?

When I build?

Or why I build?

Let’s start with why I build.

I build because there’s a need. There’s an absence of a landmark which proclaims an important truth.

When I build.

Two ingredients are always necessary–labor and money. If people are not motivated to build, the money will quickly be eaten up. If the mDictionary Boney is not available, the labor will be disgruntled.

How should I build?

Without strife. I’ve seen people begin projects and absolutely destroy their relationships just because the deadline or the goal superseded the appreciation of one another.

Where should I build?

There’s an axiom that something built on rock will last longer than something built on sand. Sometimes we build on sand because we think what we built will be so appreciated that there won’t be any attacks against it. That’s a mistake. Our building should be able to withstand the onslaught of nature and critics.

And finally, what we build.

We should always build to sufficiency, with a vision for growth. We should never place a one-acre building on a one-acre property. There’s no place to go. But we should never be ashamed of a humble beginning. The secret to success is not to begin big, but rather, realistically, so people can constantly see our growth.

Yes, what should we build?

What is it we need?

 

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