Do The Best You Can….

College Years 002The header of this blog contains one of my favorite Will Rogers quote.  “Do the best you can and don’t take life too serious”. It would be years before I realized the power of putting those two things together.

We all have different skills and capabilities. We all have different talents. I think that the secret to a satisfying life is to discover just what your skills and talents are and then do the best you can to make them flourish. My personal history it this regard is kind of so-so. But I did for the most part do the best I could with the knowledge I had at the time and maybe that is all I could have asked for.

As a kid I seemed to always be looking to the future and trying to imagine where my place would be in it.  But I never seemed able to latch onto that one specific thing. Looking back I seemed to be looking at the forest and not concentrating on any particular tree for potential growth. It would have been nice to have the knowledge and wisdom I now have in those early years.  But, I guess that is what growing really means.

As much as can be expected I did do the best I could with all my circumstances in life. I got into a profession that I really didn’t have much passion for but I did the best I could while there.  It would be more than twenty years into my thirty year work life before I found an area that I was passionate about and that was software development. My analytical mind thrived in that area.

But then along came deafness that put another obstacle in my path and it proved to be a tough one. What should have been sure fire advancements in this new area were not there because of my new affliction. My superiors just couldn’t see a deaf person leading a bigger team than I already had.  The depression that my deafness caused almost took me down for a while. And then I got my second wind and started coping as best as I could. Struggling without hearing in a hearing world was certainly  my biggest challenge.  But I did the best I could.

Perhaps the biggest challenge in realizing Will’s quote above was the last part. It would be years before I was finally able to not take life too serious. The first part of meeting that challenge was to not take myself too serious. I was convinced that I needed to change the world and was always disappointed in my lack of being able to do much of that.

The progression from not taking myself too serious to not taking life in general too serious was a natural one it seems. The first serious stage in that process was to realize that today’s politics are just not worth the worries that they inevitably cause. Our country is just too divided right now to allow any serious advancements in the political realm. I found it very satisfying to finally realize that fact and to put the muddy politics of our times to a very remote rear burner of my life.

So, here I am approaching my 68th year on this earth and I think I finally have Will’s quote down. It’s about time…..

The picture above is of me in 1966 during my college years….

 

 

Hunt Out The Good…..

2014-04-06_17-29-10“Hunt out and talk about the good that is in the other fellow’s church, not the bad, and you will do away with all this religious hatred you hear so much nowadays.” – Will Rogers, 11 March 1923

This quote hit home with me especially after my recent post about Pope Francis and the poor. There was one sad creature who tried multiple times to put in some vile words about the pope in particular and Catholics in general. It is obvious that he has nothing but hate for that group of people. Of course I did not let him have his say on this blog.

But then again, sometimes I do the same thing but to a much more civil manner. I see all the wrong-headed things going on in various church denominations and I point it out as how not to do “church”. Maybe I should take Will’s words to heart sometimes. Christians by their very nature try to look to Jesus Christ for examples.  Maybe I should start these types of posts out by first talking about the good they do (if I can find it). 🙂

I think what Will is trying to say is to find some common ground first and then gently point out the differences second….

A Couple of Quotes From Will….

Legislatures are like animals in a zoo. You can’t do anything about ’em’. All you can do is to stand and watch ’em’

 

About being a U.S. Senator, the only thing the law says you have to be is 30 years old. Not another single requirement. They just figure that a man that old got nobody to blame but himself is he gets caught there

 

— Will Rogers —

A Fool’s Fool…..

2014-01-15_09-20-30“A fool that knows he is a fool is one that knows he don’t know all about anything, but the fool that don’t know he is a fool is the one that thinks he knows all about anything. Then he is a dam fool.” – Will Rogers, 7 August 1927

This is one of Will’s more philosophical quotes. Those who think they know everything are just damn fools. I have certainly run across my share of these folks. Many have even passed through this blog on occasion but thankfully they don’t stay long.

Foolish Things….

Will Rogers 2“I don’t care who you are, you just can’t reach middle life without having done and said a whole lot of foolish things.” – Will Rogers, 28 December 1934

I think cleansing my soul might be a good way to start off this new year and what better way to do it than around a quote from Will Rogers. 🙂 I will personally attest to what Will said in the above quote.  I did some pretty foolish things in my years.  At the tender age of 17 I became addicted to nicotine. That addiction would last for over thirty years before I finally broke it. Looking back I can see where I missed so many opportunities because of my smoking. One of the girls I was thoroughly infatuated with in college quickly let me know that she was not interested. I’m sure now a big part of it was because of my smoking and resulting foul smell.

One of the things I learned later in life is that the teenage brain is just not fully developed in many areas. This resulted in many foolish ideas during those years.  I was so in love with my first car that I was convinced that I would rather die in a crash rather than lose my car. I also drank too much in my high school and college years. That made me do even more stupid/foolish things.

Another foolish thing I did in my youth was to consistently vote Republican but since I have now sworn off political stuff I will say no more about that….

We all do foolish things in our lives but seem to conveniently forget about most of them when we are dealing with today’s youth or with those who might have had to more seriously deal with the consequences of their foolish things. I think Will is trying to tell us to give them some slack.  As the old saying goes “there but for the grace of God go I”.

Ah, I feel a little better now so bring on this new year.

Oh, by the way the picture above is of Will sitting in a chair swinging his ever present lasso while writing a blog post. They called them newspaper columns in his day.  Let’s all strive to do a little better this year than last and to try to think a little less about ourselves and more for others; especially those down on their luck.. Isn’t that the least we can do???

The Rich Get Richer….

2013-12-07_18-37-12“There is one rule that works in every calamity. Be it pestilence, war or famine, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” – Will Rogers, 1 November 1929

Notice this quote was only a couple of days after the giant stock market crash starting the Great Depression. That day wiped out a lot of “paper” fortunes and a lot of real jobs. It would be more than a decade before we began to really recover. And that even took a world war to accomplish.  While we have faced many more calamities in the years since nothing compares to the Great Depression.

Will Rogers was one of those rich guys and I’m sure he lost thousands of dollars on Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929 but you never heard much from him lamenting his personal loss. His main concern was for the common guy to lost his often 80-hour a week  below minimum wage, even though there was not such a thing, job and could no longer support his family. He, unlike many in the upper percentages of wealth, was more concerned about the common good than personal gain or loss. That, with the exception of a few, seems to be a rare commodity in today’s world. And that is why he inspired me and is a hero of mine…..

100% American…

Print“I think the same fellow who started that self-made man gag started that other asinine expression, ‘100 per cent American.'” – Will Rogers, 28 October 1923

Will was just not one to parse his words. He spoke what he thought. I like to think I am like him in that regard. I also like to think that I also, like him, do it in a respectable manner without rants and personal attacks. At least I try to do that.

Will was turned off by certain phrases and these two above were on that list. To him there is no such thing as self-made. We all owe a debt to the society that sustains us. We all depend on others for what we have in life. Our mentors, our heroes, and yes even our advisories shape who we are. No one is ever self-made.

Likewise there is no such thing as 100% American. We are a very diverse country with  many different opinions and beliefs. What makes us great is our willingness to accept others views even when they differ from our own. At least that is what has made us great in the past. In today’s USA I’m not sure that idea has legs anymore.

So when I hear all those out there saying that they are somehow 100% American I, like Will,  immediately am cautious of what words may follow.

In The Other Fellow’s Yard….

Will Rogers 6“A nation is just like an individual. If a man’s neighbors all hate him and he is continually in trouble, and all his fights and troubles are always over in the other fellow’s yard, he must be wrong.” – Will Rogers, 30 March 1927

Why we continue to always be fighting in the other fellow’s yard is beyond me. I am very thankful that for the most part our fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are over. We will likely on leave a couple hundred thousand of our soldiers there but that is considered a withdrawal by modern standards. . 😉

I am very thankful to our president for not getting us into more fights in Syria and Iran. But I am kind of waiting for the next shoe to drop. One of my biggest disappointments with President Obama is he is listening to all the generals way too much. That and his killer robot drone program totally disappoints me…

Taking Things Serious……

Will Rogers 2“And that’s what makes us a great nation. We take the little things serious, and the big ones as a joke.” – Will Rogers, 15 September 1933

I must admit that getting away from the politics of our nation the above quote rings pretty true of these times.  But, in these times everything is a joke in politics.  I bet when Will originally penned these words in 1933 many people weren’t taking the serious things to do with the Great Depression as a joke!  But that was just Will Rogers for you; he tried to put some jovial spin on everything to lighten the mood. I wish I were as good at that as he was…

No Dignity…

politician“There is very little dignity, very little sportsmanship, or very little anything in politics, only get the job and hold it.” – Will Rogers, 2 November 1932

Many of the original founders of our country were hesitant volunteers in that nation building process. They say that all the time that George Washington spent in New York, which was the nation’s capital at that time, were spent dreaming about his Virginia home and wishing he was there. Jefferson and Madison were much the same. Many of the great leaders since that time have also been reluctant to serve.

I don’t know exactly when it happened that being a politician became a full time job. I guess I will have to put that on my never ending to-do list to find out but according to the quote above it must have been before Will’s time. I am coming to believe that about the only way to get anything done in that stagnant city of Washington is to enforce some pretty strong term-limits. There doesn’t seem to be any other way to get many of those folks to go home. The only other way I can see if for our judicial system to dig into shutting down the gerrymandering practices that have assured an almost life time appointment for most of the yahoos in the House of Representatives. I am a dreamer but I really don’t see either of these things happening anytime soon.

Another way we could image to get them out is to educate the voters about the issues and hand and who is doing what about them. The reason the incumbents seem to get re-elected so much is that their names are about the only ones they know when they enter the voting booth so that is the button they push. Thomas Jefferson said a democracy stands only on an informed electorate.  If that is really the case we are in serious trouble right now.

We have got to find a way to convince the hesitant volunteer to once again get involved in politics. He would serve his time and then go home so that the next person can try his/her hand. Yes, I realize that I am a hopeless dreamer here.

No Better Friends…

Basic RGB“No nation ever had two better friends than we have. You know who they are. They are the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans.” – Will Rogers, 9 April 1933

You know Will you are on to something here.  I know you were around when all the saber-rattling was going on in Europe in the early 1930s. I know you had at least a preliminary taste of what Hitler would bring onto that region but you missed out on the second war to end all wars. We tried to stay out of that one but our now Japanese friends insisted on coming across the Pacific, at least half way, to attack us.

But you are right in that the Atlantic and Pacific have probably kept us out of a lot of the trouble  those guys in the other side of the world seem to always be in. If only those Wright brothers had not invented the airplane we might still be able to live peaceably among ourselves. And of course, you would probably have lived a few more years to give us even more of your wit and wisdom. But then again there is that sticky black stuff we depend on so much over there… Why haven’t we stripped ourselves of that addiction yet??

Here’s To You Will…

Will Rogers CrashOn 15 August 1935, Will Rogers and Wiley Post were on their way from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Barrow, Alaska, when they encountered some heavy fog. Post knew they were near Barrow, but due to the conditions, was having difficulty spotting any landmarks. After spotting a small native camp near Walakpa Lagoon, Wiley Post landed the plane to ask for directions to Barrow. After Will and Wiley got out and stretched their legs, Clair Okpeaha, one of the natives, directed them towards Barrow.

Upon take off from lagoon, the plane began a steep accent, and banked sharply to the right. At approximately two hundred feet, the engine backfired and stopped. The plane tumbled downward, and struck the water, killing both Will Rogers and Wiley Post instantly.

The above quote comes from the Will Rogers Facebook page today. In my mind Will Rogers was one of the premiere statesmen of the twentieth center. His wit and wisdom helped many through the dark beginning days of the Great Depression. I mourn your loss even 78 years after the fact.

Planning…

planning“Plans get you into things but you got to work your way out.” – Will Rogers, 25 June 1931

Be careful you might just get what you plan for. I seem to have to learn that lesson over and over again through my life. I am a planner to my soul. When I was six years old you could often find me out on the dewy grass on a summer night staring at the stars and wondering/planning what my future would look like.  And for the next sixty years I have continued to the same thing.

In my very early years I played out scenarios, even though I did not know that was a word back then, on where I might be heading. But one of the most fundamental problems in my life is that I have never seemed to come to a final conclusion about my fate. I seem to still be stuck in “what do I want to do when I grow up” mode. So,  I guess I am a pretty good planner on the non-foundations things but not so good at the more important stuff. Maybe I am a more serious procrastinator than I am a serious planner.? 🙂  I have probably made thousands of unplayed plans in head throughout my life. But, there were many that happened; some good and some not so good.

Looking back over the last six decades, I am very glad that I am a planner. It made me excel in some areas of life, particularly the information technology field that I chose as my second career. Without good plans software turn into “garbage in – garbage out”.  In some areas my plans have gotten my into trouble from time to time. I found, like you said Will, that I had to work my way out.  Sometimes my plans were just too grandiose; but most times  they were just not challenging enough to encourage constant growth.

In my senior years I have learned to back off a little with my obsessive planning and just let things happen.  I currently have a project of turning my 20+ year old truck into a micro-RV. This is a long term and unplanned project. I do what I feel like doing on any particular day. I have learned that free styling has its advantage sometimes. I try to live in the moment more than I have at any other time of my life. Maybe I will get into less trouble that way. Who knows??

We Have The Best Congress Ever…..

Congress“Never blame a legislative body for not doing something. When they do nothing, that don’t hurt anybody. It’s when they do something is when they become dangerous.” – Will Rogers, 22 November 1929

Maybe I am looking at the politics thing all wrong Will? As you say if our congress is doing nothing maybe that is a good thing. Maybe when they do things is when they get in trouble?  I know this is one of  your more popular quotes, but I kind of think you get it wrong in at least a couple of areas.

  • When one small portion of the population lords it over all the rest of us we have to depend on our government to give us the muscle we need to correct the situation.
  • When our citizens are dying unnecessarily because of lack of adequate healthcare someone has to come in and do the Christian thing and help our brothers out.
  • When someone comes along and threatens the very foundation of our democracy by trying to squelch the vote some with some power needs to stamp that out.

I am primarily a “power to the people” type person.  I believe that government should stay out of my way as much as possible and let me make my own mistakes and successes. But when the problem is much bigger than I am I need help and that is where government “should” come in. The problem with this idea is to elect people who know the difference.

You didn’t have a lot of confidence in the people in government in your days and I guess I don’t either. Especially the last dozen years or so when the clowns and wing-nuts took over. I’m just not sure that it is the “legislative body” as you say is the problem but instead it is the yahoos who we elect to fill those seats. Currently all the seats seem to be filled with people who are more concerned about themselves and their particular political leanings. There just doesn’t seem to be anyone looking out for good of the country anymore. There are just too many wing-nuts who are clinging to the most extreme views of the world today.

Like you Will, I try to be an optimist.  I think it is possible to push the current ones out and put in more centrist minded folks to take care of our basic needs. It might take a while but I still think it can happen. But one of the necessary prerequisites is that people turn off their favorite cable news channel and look at what is going on with their own eyes and brains.

But I’m just a simple guy so what do I know.

Ego….

Me“No man is great if he thinks he is.” – Will Rogers, 1 March 1929

All of us have an ego but in some it is much more inflated than others. Our current politicians seem to have much more than their share of ego. But there also is plenty available to us outside the political sphere.

It seems to me that one of the primary characteristics of people who think they are great is that they constantly are looking inward. They come first and everyone else is a very distant second. After all, to them, the world is focused on them.  Giant egos get us into so much trouble. I think that one of the reasons for such high divorce rates is egos clashing. The divorced couple never grow to being a team because each is too focused on their individual needs.  A successful marriage depends on one degree on tempered egos.

When you are always looking inward you just don’t see beyond yourself. Now don’t get me wrong, an ego is a good thing up to a point. We should be rightly proud of moments of significant accomplishments. We should pat ourselves on the back for all the hard work we did to accomplish it.  If we have no ego then we will probably have no self-esteem or self-respect and that is not a good thing.  When we only think of ourselves as a worthless piece of snot, as some suggest we should, then we are no good for ourselves or anyone else.

No man is great if he thinks he is.  I have seen several people in my life who very much match this phrase. But, fortunately I have also met many who put others ahead of themselves. Of course Jesus Christ is the perfect example of that and he expects us to follow his example as much as we are able. Jesus was about serving, not be served and that is the opposite of ego if I have ever seen it.  Like almost everything else in life your ego is not a black/white thing but instead is what shade of grey you choose to live in.