Tag Archives: Can someone really change?

Should we regret our regrets?

Regret: To feel sorry for something: to feel sorry and sad about something previously done or said that now appears wrong, mistaken, or hurtful to others.

Isn’t there a song that laments “regrets, I’ve got a few”? Unless you have lived pretty much a perfect life, you have things that you wish you could change or do over.

I do.

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There was a classmate who was teased in grade school and made to cry. This was back in the wonderful period when parents called each other about things their children had done. And it was in the time that the parent dealt with the child and taught them to do right and not wrong. I remember clearly my mother coming up the stairs and talking to me about it. I will never forget the disappointment on her face when I denied it.

I regret both doing the teasing, and then lying to my mother about it.

I remember to this day the look on a wonderful person’s face, who was also a wonderful friend, when I made a snotty comment in junior high about her clothes. It still haunts me at 47. Who did I think I was?

I will always regret that.

Is that bad? Continue reading Should we regret our regrets?

Is age a requirement of gaining wisdom?

Living in my own version of reality, I often forget that I am actually 47 years old. I instinctively think that most people I meet are older and wiser than I am. They certainly know more.

Yet a few minutes spent with our kids and me making comments like “I can’t believe that commercial just said that. When we were kids that would have been outrageous!”, it is obvious that I am not the young, spring chicken I pretend to see when I look in the mirror.

I’m not sure when I got old, or older as the case may be. It just seems to have happened while I wasn’t looking. Regardless, phrases that used to make me roll my eyes when I heard my parents utter them now come quite readily out of my mouth.

What’s more, they reflect what I actually feel.

classroom

There is something about being young and in college and so sure that we know more than the older generation. Our solutions will work; just wait until we are in charge. We are going to change the world. Life will be ultimately fair to everyone and all people will be kind to each other. We’ll show these old duffers how it should be done. They are so closed minded that they just can’t see it.

I remember feeling invincible and smart and insightful and, most importantly, passionately right in my opinions. Continue reading Is age a requirement of gaining wisdom?

It seems there are many versions of the truth out there. How can we separate fact from fiction?

Growing up in the ancient of days like I did, you know with only one TV on in the house at a time and everyone watching the same thing (and having 5 channels to choose from!), we were used to voting on what we watched.

Of course, parent’s votes always carried much more punch than did the kid’s votes.

This resulted in enduring through documentaries and science discoveries and news programs from time to time. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would actually CHOOSE these programs. Not when The Dukes of Hazard was on the other channel.

Recently, though, we had a pretty good laugh in our home when the kids came in and asked what I was watching. Before realizing it I told them it was “this really interesting documentary about Salt Lake City in the 1940s.”

Their looks took me back immediately to my childhood and I knew exactly how they were feeling.

We all laughed as we realized that I had become old. Well, I guess they have known it for some time. Maybe the laughter was about the fact that I was now up to speed with the rest of them.

What changed?

Did they learn how to make documentaries or news programs more interesting in the last 30 years? Maybe.

But then wouldn’t my kids find them interesting too?

I think the change wasn’t in the programs so much as it was in me.

While grabbing something to eat, I will actually turn to the news channels first to see what is going on in the world. I’m interested now. I care about what decisions are being made, what changes are coming, what problems people are dealing with.

During times of breaking news I will switch to different news channels during commercials so that I don’t miss any information.

Have you ever tried that?

What is so interesting to me is often how different the coverage and spin is on the exact same news stories.

What one station will blare as breaking news the other station will not even be covering it. Or the blame lies squarely on one party, only to be shifted to the opposite party on a neighboring station.

Aren’t they reporting on the same story?

Maybe you’ve seen the commercial that has been on for years now about insurance. The person is quoting misinformation as if it is fact. When asked where she got her information, she replies “The Internet. Everyone knows that you can’t put anything that isn’t true on the Internet.”

There may have been a day when we thought that. Not so much anymore.

There are people who purposefully put much out there that is, at best misleading, and at worst direct lies.

Depending on which station or newspaper you use really depends on what “truth” you are made aware of. It seems easier to find sources that support our perceptions and validate our opinions than it is to find a source that will simply and forthrightly tell the truth.

So, what do we do?

I feel that now more than ever before in the history of the world we have the responsibility to be educated and informed. There are many who depend on the masses being too busy and too tired to pay very close attention to what is going on. That leaves them free to quietly make changes in one area while others are focused on different things.

For example, Vladamir Putin was probably quite relieved to find the intense focus on the problems in Ukraine to shift immediately over to the missing Malaysian airplane.

Just because the news reports have shifted, doesn’t necessarily mean the problems have stopped.

How do we sift through it all and get down to the truth, the real truth?

I’m sure it sounds naïve and old fashioned, but that’s okay (remember my kids helped me understand that I am now officially “old”), but I only know of One source of pure truth.

While there isn’t a Heavenly news channel that we can just flip on as we have time and partially listen to as we are doing other things, there is a source that we can tune in to and know for ourselves.

I’ve discovered that there is genuine interest and help when I study things out and quietly take some time to talk it over with Someone I completely trust, Someone who knows, Someone who sees.

I’m sure I’ll make mistakes in my understanding and interpretations and get things wrong at times.

But I will also get it right sometimes.

Then I will understand, and I will see.

Don’t we all have the responsibility to open our eyes and see what is going on? Once we understand the truth of things, then we are prepared to act.

“Evil thrives when good men do nothing.”

I think evil has been thriving long enough.

 

We can actually know for ourselves what is right and what is wrong. It takes a lot of work and consistency. When we let our guards down we can get swept up with the tide pretty quickly. But maybe it being so hard to do is part of what makes it so important.

When each of us steps up and does our small but unique part, it is enough.

Together, we all see the truth, the real truth.

What if I don’t want to be the way I am?

I’m one of those people who, after an experience with others is over, will take time to go back through the exchange and evaluate how things went. More often than not, I cringe at things I said or did and really want to call out for a “do-over.”

Of course, it is too late.

Most people would find it pretty annoying to get a call from me where I tell them “Here is what I should have said.” They have moved on already. I probably need to too.disagree

What are these little mannerisms or characteristics that scream for “do-overs”? They are things about me that I wish were different. It makes me wonder what is the composite picture of me that others see?

Really, what makes me, well, me?

Continue reading What if I don’t want to be the way I am?

Do we need heroes in life? What really makes a hero a hero?

My father attended the funeral of a life-long friend a week ago. He shared a few thoughts with me about things that were said, feelings that were felt. I could tell that it was a good experience for him, one where those who loved a great man gathered to celebrate the life he shared.

I think there is a point in life when we stop being devastated by the death of a loved one, and can start to see the gratitude for a life well lived. I’m sure it happens at different points for different people. There are probably many different reasons people do and don’t make this transition. A lot would have to do with where they are in life themselves. It may be hard to celebrate the good life of another if we aren’t feeling that great about our own.

It is at times like this that we look around and find others who we think are probably doing it right. Or at least, better than we are doing it. We watch for little things they do and we begin to compare our accomplishments to theirs. In a way, they become a hero.

Our hero.

What makes a hero?

We tend to throw that word around a lot in society today.

People who sacrifice for others are generally awarded the title. The military is getting more and more respect, deservedly so, as they continue to fight seemingly endless battles on many different fronts. Is a hero a soldier?

People who have worked incredibly hard to become the very best at something also are referred to as heroes. Just having finished the Olympic games brings many quickly to mind. Is a hero a winning athlete?

We also saw several stories of athletes who had not won in the Olympics, but were incredibly gracious in the way they handled defeat (if we could really consider anything any of them had done a defeat – great Scott, I know that I could never come close to the last person to cross the line, much less the first!). So, is a gracious loser a hero?

The truth is that there are most certainly soldiers, winners, and losers who are heroes.

The truth is also that there are most likely soldiers, winners, and losers who are not heroes.

What then makes someone a hero? What would the real definition be?

In remembering experiences with this friend who had died, my father shared a time many years ago that he was being interviewed by this same man on the radio. It was one of the interactions that had helped build their friendship.

During the interview the man asked my dad who his heroes were. My dad said that he gave a quick, off the cuff response that was something like this:

“My heroes are those who do the best they can with whatever life hands them. My heroes are those who manage to build on the good stuff that their parents contributed while rejecting the bad. My heroes are those who rise above both genetics and environment.”

Actually, I think that is a pretty great definition. Imagine what he would have said if he had been given some time to think!

In looking at this definition, it makes me wonder if the heroes who make the biggest difference in our lives are the ones that we know both the good and the bad about. We know what they overcame. We know the choices they made in love and respect for those who came before. We know about how they became more than the sum total of their experiences.

Our real heroes are people close around us. Our real heroes are people we know.

So, how does this happen? Unlike some of the other heroes we have thought about, there aren’t television commercials or newspaper articles or big pictures in magazines about what our family and neighbors are doing. How do we come to know some of these deep and personal details in the lives of these quiet heroes?

We actually have to interact with each other.

It’s a pretty safe bet that none of us live a “Mayberry” kind of life where we sit and fan ourselves on the porch at night listening to someone play the guitar, or walk the several blocks to work and back home for lunch each day, or even stop in the barber shop to catch up on the latest happenings.

But isn’t there somewhere in between that and working 14-hour days, rushing to each child’s soccer game and dance recital, and tackling the never-ending list of things that absolutely must be done?

I will admit that I am one of the worst at this. Not that I am jetting off to make presentations or meeting with board members to make the big and important decisions. Not even close.

But I have found security in a little world with little outside interaction. Ann calls it my little box. As long as life is lived in that little box, it remains manageable and relatively calm.

So, as with all things where I think a change needs to be made, I must start with myself and go from there.

Recently we accepted the invitation to actually go over to the home of some very dear friends and just spend some time with them. Pretty unusual for me to not have an agenda and a plan and a time limit for such an activity.

We just went to talk.

You see, their adult daughter is fighting a horrific battle with leukemia. Because of the risk of getting sick, she has been pretty much homebound since returning from months and months in a hospital room. Of course, for me, being homebound is a great reward. I do well alone.

But she was lonely. She needed to have that interaction with others to help feed her spirit and bring joy and purpose to getting out of bed each day.

So, being “good” neighbors (honestly, I don’t think we will ever be accused of being good neighbors, but one can always try to paint a more flattering picture), we went over to spend some time.

We went to just be with them. To just be.

And a hero was born.

This woman sees life more clearly and more acutely than most. We learned what she is overcoming. We saw the choices she is making in love and respect from the great lessons of her parents. We witnessed someone who is certainly more than the sum total of her experiences.

I think the true test of a hero is what comes after the impressive encounter that leaves such a mark in our memories. What happens next?

Do we sit back and just tell others about what a great person this is? Do we let it put a smile on our face each time we happen to think about them and what they are doing?

Or is there something more?

Does it cause us to take some serious reflection and evaluate how we are doing with our own “little bag of goodies” that life has handed us? Do we stop and think about the things our parents taught us that have made our lives better? Are we forgiving and forgetting those things that weren’t really so great? Are we choosing who and what we want to be, above and beyond what we may just ordinarily be?

I guess I think that a real hero is someone who helps me to change myself.

And in the process, I find another hero in my life: Me.

I can become my own hero as I work hard at changing and becoming and growing and evolving and learning and stretching and failing and trying again.

Because the bottom line is that I have to put in the work. I have to face the fear, and do it anyway. I have to keep getting up after I fall. I have to learn the self-control that comes with delaying gratification.

It happens gradually, but before I realize it, I see the person I wanted to be, or at least a glimpse of what can be. I’m stronger. I’m kinder. I’m happier.

At the same funeral my dad attended a week ago, the son stood and shared this thought that really touched my father: “Dad taught us to live after the manner of happiness”.

I sincerely believe that is the purpose of all we do here in this life. We learn how to truly be happy. Maybe the recipe for happiness is closely tied in to the recipe for being a hero.

Do the best you can with whatever life hands you.Build on the good stuff that your parents have given you and reject with forgiveness the bad.Rise above both genetics and environment to be more than the sum total of all your experiences.

And maybe, just maybe, there is someone else out there looking for a little lift, a little help in becoming.

Find a real hero to help you become your own, then help someone else become a real hero.