Monday, February 05, 2018
Even Leaders Have To Learn
In the army, an officer is a leader. A lieutenant is an officer...a very junior one, the first officer rank in the army A "butter bar", a 2nd Lieutenant, who wears a single gold bar to designate his rank, is the lowest of the low, among officers.
Enlisted men, not officers, love to tell stories about green 2LT's.
When I was beginning basic combat training, Fort Jackson, South Carolina, in 1967, I was assigned, one night, to buff an office floor.
There was a brand new 2LT still in the office, supervising us. I had never used a buffer before, and, despite his attempts to show me how to use it, I never quite got the hang of it.
By the time, after several attempts to demonstrate the technique of buffing a floor, he gave up in frustration, there was only a little bit left to do anyway, and he went ahead and did it....while I watched.
If he stayed in the army, and survived, as this was the Vietnam War era, and 2LT's did not have a good life expectancy, he may have wound up a General.
I hope he learned something that night.
I know I did.
If it has to be done and you won't or can't do it, maybe somebody else will. Husbands do this all the time.
I wonder if he learned that if you cannot teach, or encourage, or lead others to do something that needs to get done, you may end up doing it yourself.
Don't know if either of those lessons is valuable, but they are facts, and one of use learned something that night.
Thursday, February 01, 2018
Hey Sarge! I Just Waxed That!
The upstairs, and downstairs, was an open area, known as a squad bay, with rows of double-decker bunks down either side. The center floor, between the rows of bunks, was, I guess, 20 feet wide, maybe more, maybe less.
The important thing for this story is that it was waxed and buffed to a high gloss every day, and no "trainee" was allowed to walk on it.
Shortly after that was brought to our attention, Drill Sergeants walked in, in combat boots, down the middle of that glossy floor.
We waxed and buffed it.
They walked on it.
If we walked on it, we got in trouble...not just from them, but, from our fellow soldier...er...trainees, as Master Sergeant Alosio would remind us...not yet soldiers.
That simple, shared task, and seeming abuse, was one of the beginnings of teamwork...of brotherhood.
Years later, as a Sergeant, many years and lots of experience away from the young basic trainee, I, myself, was on the training staff at an army academy.
I walked into the barracks, down the middle of the squad bay, with students watching me, knowing that they were sighing, but, not really angry. They knew the drill.
I knew too, that after I left they would get out the wax and the buffer, and work together to fix what i had just messed up with my combat boots.
I smiled inside. That part of my job was done.
They knew what to do.
Monday, January 29, 2018
While researching my family tree I came across an interesting footnote.
Now, this is not about me. The man is not even in my bloodline.
After the death of my father's mother, her husband, my grandfather, married a woman named Merrell. Turns out HER father, as a sheriff, stood down a lynch mob, and the incident was recorded in a story by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), which was published after his death.
I claim no glory, by blood or relation, but, it feels special to be that close to history.
Not just to have a near-relative in the writings of Mark Twain, but, in the brave act of a man who upheld his duty.
Gave me chills. Way to go, great grandfather-in-law, however many times removed.
That may be the basis for a story or a poem someday.
You deserve it. I know Mark Twain did it better, but, I'm closer.
Saturday, January 27, 2018
The World Through A Dirty Windshield
I was in a full-belly, quietly contemplative mood as I stopped at a traffic light at a railroad crossing, in a not too pretty part of Fort Worth, Texas..
I noticed the sunny day, green trees, and became aware of a slight golden ambiance to the scene in front of me. As I was wondering what could be making railroad tracks, and the crumbling church across the way look almost as if painted by Renoir, I glanced to my left...through my clean side window.
Everything suddenly appeared quite normal in color, and, ambiance?
Anyway, all this lovely atmosphere had been created by a dirty, dusty windshield.
Isn't that how life is sometimes?
Poets and other writers speak about viewing things through rose colored glasses.
How we see things, either with our eyes or through the multiple lenses of experience and lore, can have a huge impact on how we live IN the life we have, and how we appear to others.
I got home intending to clean the windshield. I've got to go back out tomorrow and not really looking forward to that errand.
Maybe I'll leave the windshield like it is for one more day.
Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Knowledge Vs. Truth Vs. Wisdom
Well, the person DIDN'T know it and my first twitch was "not in the know".
Then, it hit me.
When it was knowledgeable TO ME, this info WAS INFO, but, this person was either a toddler or an embryo...or, as my father used to say, "a gleam in his mother's eye".
So, how can I hold them intellectually accountable, even for true knowledge, which is not commonly known in THEIR time, and, how can they exercise wisdom with that truth and knowledge, that they simply do not have...and, HAVE NO REASON TO HAVE?
I think that's where we get into trouble in our relationships, with the neighbors and those "idiots" on the other side of the world.
By the way, if you live in China, to you I might be one of those "idiots" on the other side of the world.
So, don't take it personally.
There's an old joke about the word "assume".
"To assume, creates an 'ass' out of 'u' and 'me'."
By the way, don't assume I'm talking dirty. That's the animal, not the body part.
See? You might not know what I mean even though I mean what I say.
That's fine...I assume.
Thursday, January 18, 2018
My Goal Is NOT To Change You
I wanted to write, and I wanted someone to read what I wrote, but, I had no larger goal than that.
Then, "that" happened. I HAD readers, and I was faced with a new choice.
Should I use these platforms to exercise mind control over my readers, amuse and amaze them, or, with blinding words and brilliant wit, offer them advice on how to live their lives (the big temptation)?
After some thought (I won't tell you how much or how little), I decided that I like you pretty much the way you are, and don't really have any major desire to change you.
Yet, that "advice" thing still nudged at the back of my mind, and my ego. So, after some thought, I decided to mainly talk about me and my thoughts, my musings, errant and otherwise, and out loud. I could tell you what I was feeling, thinking, remembering, and, if you liked it, you could respond or move on.
What I have found is that a lot of what I say resonates...not with everyone or every time, but, one human telling a story about themselves reminds another of a similar story, or provokes a thought about life or self.
Kind of like neighbors at the back fence chatting.
I like that.
I like hearing from friends.
Saturday, January 13, 2018
Relying On Natural Things
There are certain words we like to use, and to here about. We see them in advertisements and in news articles. Most of the time when we see words, such as "natural", as in natural ingredient, natural remedy, or natural solution, we ten to assume that, somehow, "natural" means good...maybe even "better"!
Not always so. As I like to point out, rattlesnake venom is "natural" as are heart attacks. In fact, science has often been able to improve on the performance of natural remedies and ingredients.
There are companies whose reputation rests almost entirely on natural products, usually having to do with health and fitness, but, also with home care and cleaning.
This is commendable in some respects. I like the idea of using some natural product, such as Shaklee Herb-Lax® Natural Laxative, to provide a natural remedy, approved by Mother Nature herself to solve my digestive problems.
Still, whether the product is "natural" or not, the proof is in the pudding. A natural solution should be put to the same tests, and held to the same standard, as any other product.
Disclaimer: My wife is an independent Shaklee distributor.