An Accurate Dose of Reality

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I had the thought: “Why didn’t I think of that?” When I was bemoaning the fact that I had misplaced my car key and a replacement key was $380.00, a friend from Oklahoma countered: “Don, look at it this way, at least you know the key is lost. ”


His message was as riveting as a bolt of lightening striking me on the shoulder. Selfishly, I had the thought: “I should have thought of that on my own, but I didn’t.” His words of wisdom reflected profound insight on his part. He is really a smart man! The guy is from Oklahoma and I’m singing his praises. (Sorry Texas fans, I couldn’t help myself) Why not give credit where credit is due?


The subtle undertone or maybe it was the overtone of yesterday’s blog was my innate fear that I was beginning a steady decline. Call it the long green mile if you want, but retirement isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. After all, I’ve only been away from the office for three months and the days of the week are already running together and I can’t decipher from memory what day of the week it really is.


I no longer begin my day determining what I’m going to wear that will look great. I don’t need to dress for success. God forbid that I would wear a pair of railroad train pajamas all day long, but it could happen. Actually, it couldn’t happen. I haven’t had railroad train pajamas since I was a kid. In addition, I’m not at risk of waking up with chewing gum in my hair.


As I’m getting dressed for the day, I look at my freshly laundered and starched shirts hanging in the closet and they each represent $2.45. Why mess up one of them when I can put on a T-shirt and shorts and live the life of Riley? Now that I’ve discovered Keen sandals through the generous gift of my brother who is from Oklahoma, I now know what I’ve been missing. Presto, I’m outfitted for the day and the maintenance costs are almost nonexistent. Water is cheap. All I have to do is throw my shorts and T-shirts in the washing machine and I’m good as new except that it is not a new look. It is the same ole “I’m retired look”.


I’m retired, so the need to dress for success has come to an end. The General is so accustomed to seeing me wearing a pair of shorts and pull over T-shirt that she probably is beginning to think I don’t have any long pants.  With the exception of Sunday, every day the way I dress looks the same. I’m in the midst of a “Groundhog’s Day” kind of experience where one day looks just like the preceding day and a prediction of what tomorrow holds.


You may remember the movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray. In the movie he is an arrogant Pittsburg TV weatherman who figuratively draws the short stick and is assigned to cover the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, PA. He was less than thrilled with the assignment. It was beneath him. He also predicted the blizzard would miss western Pennsylvania. He was wrong on that one and found himself snowbound in Punxsutawney so to speak. Left in a time warp he couldn’t escape, he choose to re-examine his life and his priorities and it provided him the freedom he needed to move forward and do life differently.


Speaking of “short stick”, did you ever use that method to determine who would receive the dreaded task of doing whatever? My mother was the one who introduced the concept to us as children. Sometimes she’d determine who got the assigned task by asking us to draw a stick. There were only three sticks to choose from. Ronnie, Larry and I got to draw one. Actually, the last to draw only had one choice, but it seemed like a fairly equitable way to determine the owner of the task she wanted accomplished. As I recall, I think we mostly chose our selection from three toothpicks she held in her fist. Of course, they would have been broken so none of them were the same length.


Even that is a tangible example that life can be filled with variety and that everyday experiences don’t necessarily have to duplicate one another. All you have to do is mix things up and purposefully choose to do it differently. If you are tired of same ole, same ole, get out of the rut and go for it. Isn’t that what seeking the adventure is all about?


Solomon is credited with saying: “There is no new thing under the sun.” Same ole, same ole or repetition of what has been sometimes seems like the only thing on the menu. I want more than that. Consequently, I’ve got to choose to make it happen.  If it worked for Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, it can work for  me.  Doesn’t choosing  to re-examine one’s life and priorities provide freedom to move forward and do life differently?


When you’re caught in a time warp where every day looks the same, it can play havoc with one’s perception. Take for example my not knowing what day of the week it is or my not remembering where I left my car key. The repeated experience subtly put me on the edge of a homemade pity party. What else was there to think? It seemed like I was going full speed ahead toward the final curtain and was on the precipice of cognitively losing it. Thankfully, a bold man named Larry hit me up side the face with a refreshing dose of reality. He thoughtfully commented: “At least you know the key is lost.”


“At least you know the key is lost” – It was like music to my ears. I’m not making this up. The wisdom in his message was as refreshing as I anticipate I’d find in a morning rain shower. It is really hot and it is really dry in my part of the world. A good soaking rain in the midst of the day would be like inhaling fresh air. Recognizing the simple truth once it was pointed out to me, “Don, look at it this way. At least you know the key is lost” was as poignant as a freshly cut bouquet of expensive and rare flowers.


By the way, I have an eye exam scheduled in Austin at 8:00 a.m. this morning. Day before yesterday, I had a 7:15 a.m. appointment with the retina specialist who did my eye surgery a few years back. In case you’re wondering, I’ll be wearing long pants and a starched shirt that button up. I’ll even opt for shoes with socks. This is a big day for me. I’m getting out of the time warp.


All My Best!



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