Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Friday, June 24, 2011

Success is Wonderful, But Sharing Your Failures May Be Even Better

                                      Forks in the road.
                                                                             Taking the road less travelled.

Colloquialisms all, but when you look in the rear view, they were all real places where a decision was made in your life that led you to another place, and then to another.  Eventually, those decision GPS directions led you to where you are sitting today. Now for the analogies:  that road that brought you to where you are had some bumpy parts, some down right smooth as fresh pavement parts, and some parts that were wash boarded, washed out, and rutted enough to cause you to bump your head more than once.

I took some turns that weren't the best.  They took me onto some bad terrain.  Some bad land, but I did learn to make better choices.  I still am, and I am putting those lessons into practice.

I guess most of us do learn from our experiences, and choices, and change our direction accordingly.  I could have done better at times, a whole lot better, but there have been times I have done very well.  We've all been told that experience is the best teacher, and I can confirm that.  It is just a question of whether or not we will listen to the teacher.

Recently I drove over to the town where I grew up to check on my step-mother.  Since my Dad passed away in March, she has been alone, and doing the all the things he protected her from all those years together.  Things like doing all the banking, paying the bills, talking to lawyers, and the like.  She has done very well.  He would be very happily surprised.  All those years, watching him, listening to him, and watching the results he obtained was like a classroom.  A course in learning to survive by dealing with things to come.  She learned very well.

Who'd a thunk it?

After my visit, I called an old friend, I had know since first grade, and I had not seen in years.  I asked him if he wanted to get together and grab a bite.  It was 11:00 in the morning, and my call had woken him up.  He was sleeping in.  Really.  A fifty-plus year old guy sleeping in till 11 on a Sunday morning.  I can't remember sleeping in long, even after a rough night, and there was a time, when I had my share of those.  He said grabbing a bite would be great, and asked me to give him an hour.

Okay, an hour it is.

An hour later I arrived at his apartment, I found my way up to his place, and he met me in the hallway.  He led me into his modest home.  A kitchen, a bedroom, and a bathroom.  Modest may not be the right word, but to my old friend, it was home, and he seemed happy. He owned his own company, paid his bills, and made his own choices, and he was happy.  That is what counts the most.

We went to a local restaurant that was offering brunch, and ordered a great meal.  While we ate, my friend shared some stories of other local old friends that had fallen on hard times over the years, and weren't doing that well in life.  I think he was using their bad times as a barometer in which to measure his own life against.  Something we all do from time to time.

He prefaced his stories by telling me that their tough times had nothing to do with the current economic climate, and went into detail about what these guys were up against, and it all had a common theme.  Poor choices, and bad decisions, something we all make, but the theme here was not learning from the results of those choices.  What made it worse was their not knowing how to correct the issue, how to find help, not having the strength  to fix things, or becoming so despondent as a result that they became paralyzed.  There was a time I was in a similar place.  I could feel for those guys, those former classmates, and friends.

After we finished brunch my old friend looked relieved.  He had spoken aloud about things that he had only been thinking about for some time.  He had received feedback in the form of my head shaking, and mild expletives, and according to his Barometer of Life, he had risen a few points.  He was in a better frame of mind than when he was when I called him, and all we did was talk, and have some awesome Eggs Benedict.

I guess the purpose of all this rambling is to maybe stimulate some reflection in you, and in me, as well.  Living in the past is never good, but learning from it is what we are meant to do.  Otherwise, we will languish back in the day, and never move on to all those adventures we promised ourselves when we were younger.

Yes, we do pay some dues along the way.  It's inevitable.  We loose jobs.  I have, and not by choice.  We suffer through bad relationships.  Our children will disown us, call us lame, ignore us, and cause us to age four years to every one we actually live.  Creditors will call us at some point when we forget a car payment, or the electric bill.  Life will always be there, but it is by our choice how we live it, how we respond to it, and that choice will determine how our ride will be.

I guess that is really the whole point.  Life will always be there, but it is our choice how to live, and respond to it.  It is also our responsibility to share our experiences with those that are in a position to learn from them.  That is one reason why we have been blessed with memory, and our children are number one on the share list.

Share your failures, don't hide them.  Don't pretend to be perfect.  They see right through us.  By sharing our experiences, good, and bad,  we might just help someone avoid being the topic of conversation at brunch someday.

1 comment:

  1. Long Time ReaderSaturday, June 25, 2011

    Wally, great post! What I like more than anything about reading your blog is that there is no pretense. What you write about is what you believe and what you live. Down to earth. Honest.

    When you see an old friend, as you wrote about in the post above, there is an instant feeling of comfort, even if that person lives very differently from yourself. Why? Because you know each other from way back. Even if you haven’t seen each other in decades, you are part of each other because of the history you share. You know what to expect from that person, and he knows what to expect from you. You already have a good idea of each other’s beliefs, background, old way of life, and, often, childhood experiences.

    You may not know of the hardships, or the great experiences this person has had since last you made contact – but you easily fill each other in with the details – even very sad and perhaps private details, because you feel so close and comfortable with that person you haven’t seen in years.

    Whose fault is it you’ve perhaps lost contact? It might be that you are both at fault, but more likely no one is at fault. Life happens. People go off in different directions and live different lives – yet your old friend still has his or her special corner in your heart, and lives there for years, just as you remember him.

    When you finally see do each other, what’s the first thing you do? Probably search the eyes of that person, trying to read in those eyes the part of his or her life story you’ve yet to learn – and in an instant you are talking a mile a minute about everything, quickly bringing each other up-to-date, and it’s like yesterday all over again - hopefully, with life’s lessons learned – certainly, with the realization that these are bonds that will never be broken.

    You accept each other for what you are. You easily understand, or even make excuses for the reason that the other person’s decisions might have been the wrong ones, or different than yours, or that his or her view of the world is different, etc.. This is your old friend. He is what he is, and he has his reasons - and you are what you are and you are, and that’s okay, too. You may positively influence this person’s future decisions in life or you may not. But you will always live in each other’s hearts, with that precious distant past casting a warm, understanding glow on each other’s today.


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