A Room With A View


Was it the Monday morning blues? I don’t think so. I was actually in a pretty good mood when I left for work yesterday morning. But you never know what a day will bring. By mid-morning, my good mood had gone south. I was wishing I had stayed in bed and I’m not the kind of guy that can generally sleep late.

It wasn’t anything major, but sometimes frustrations can seemingly come out of nowhere. Actually, that’s not really true. With little effort most of us can draw a pretty direct line to the catalyst that changed the sunshine into dark clouds. I guess it falls under the category of “cause and effect.”

Recently I mentioned to my daughter a comment someone had hurled my direction with the force of a Molotov cocktail. I may be mistaken, but I don’t think it was their intent to be kind. I’d be the first to say, “I give way too much credence to what other people think.” The General tells me I need to get over it. Actually, my daughter pretty much said the same thing. Actually, she said more than that. She asked: “Dad, Why would you allow anyone to have that kind of power over you?” I guess in some respects, Andrea has part of her mother in her. She could have left well enough alone, but she added: “You know what was said isn’t true. Don’t give anyone the power to take away your joy. Life is too short.”

Wow! Talk about the shoe being on the other foot. Where had I heard that before? I guess it really is true: “What goes around comes around.” Life is short. She was now telling me the kinds of stuff that I was telling her when she was an adolescent. What puzzles me is why I’d needed to hear that in my late… (I’m not going to go there).

Shortly before lunch yesterday, an incredible ray of sunshine replaced the dark clouds. Talk about coloring outside the lines, I had the privilege of having lunch at The Headliner’s Club in Austin at the invitation of a friend. The ambience of being on the 21st floor with floor-to-ceiling glass walls is truly an amazing sight as one looks down on the State Capitol and into the distance. I found myself blinking my eyes in an effort to absorb it all and process the experience.

The pre-meal conversation, absorbing the sights, visiting with the kind man who was hosting the four of us from where I work and simply taking the time to choose not to be rushed added an unfamiliar concept to the way I generally have lunch. Actually, yesterday’s lunch had absolutely no similarity to any dining venue I’ve ever experienced. I guess, I can truthfully say, “It was over-the-top”.

It was more than simply being in an upscale venue where the “movers and shakers” in Austin congregate and enjoy camaraderie and fine dinning. The food was exceptional and the conversation and opportunity to visit with the man hosting us was delightful. At some level, being high above the city and taking in the view seemed almost a subtle barrier from the stress and complications of everyday life.

The very name, “The Headliner’s Club” is reflective of the venue’s history. It had the dual purpose of providing a comfortable environment for those that make the Headlines and those that write the Headlines. It was established by Charles E. Green, the long-time Executive Editor of what would become the Austin American-Statesman, in 1954. For more than 50 years, the Headliners Club has been at the top of the Austin social scene in both stature and station with its high-rise location on the 21st floor of the Chase Tower downtown.

In the small, almost private dinning area where we opted to sit, we had the place to ourselves. I found that my focus throughout most of the meal alternated between the conversation and view through the windows and the conversation and news report being delivered on a very large, wall mounted, flat screen television. The news broadcast centered on what is now known about the massacre in San Bernardino, California and the couple responsible for the carnage.

At some point, I recognized that my sense of relaxation was not nearly as calm and stress free when my focus during lunch included attempting to capture tidbits of information from the news report. When I finally gave myself permission to totally focus on that which prompted an incredible sense of calm – the conversation, the view, the incredible meal and a sense of not be hurried, the physiological impact was dramatic.

Of course before we left, at the insistence of our host, I excused myself to go to the men’s room. It is rumored to be legendary and no visit to The Headliner’s Club would be complete without it. “The ‘Old Actress’ is permanently displayed on the wall next to the men’s room. The actress herself is a haggard, unattractive woman whose image serves a distinct purpose. As members explain, when she begins to look attractive to you, then that’s the signal that you’ve had too much to drink and it’s time to go home.” The men’s room itself had quite the view. The glass walls were strategically placed to capitalize on much to see.

Later as I reflected on the experience, it occurred to me that in all of life the issue is focus. What we choose to focus on has the ability to either make or break us. We can either opt to focus on that which fills us with joy or we can choose to focus on that which threatens to steal our joy. The choice is your and the choice is mine.

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think of these things. (Philippians 4:8)

All My Best!




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