The Recovering Farmer

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Fools, Fanatics, Or Wise

What do they say? An idle mind is the devil’s workshop? Not sure how that goes but me thinks I can relate. Sunday morning started out with some promise. As one eye opened I saw the sunrise. My heart leapt with joy. I had gone to bed the night before thinking my golf game would be rained out. Here I found myself hoping. I jumped out of bed, and if you believe that I have some other stories for you, to check the forecast. Truth be told I dragged my sorry butt out of bed to see what awaited me.

To the east the sky looked clear. Although I would not know that because our house is not in line with the world. What would appear to be east is actually more north. To the west I saw clouds. Although, again, to the west is actually more to the south. However, if all else fails, check the internet. Ooops. Does not look good. Rain coming. What to do?

Ended up sitting at home all day. Never sure what the weather would do. Not a problem except midway through the afternoon my wife and I found ourselves gazing out the window at our deck. We had known for a while that work would have to be done but were not sure whether we had the energy or resources to do what needed to be done. I suppose it was a weak moment. Perhaps the monotony was a driving force. Call it what you may. We decided it was time. At least to do part of it.

So I started. Now wishing I had not. What earlier looked like a doable project has turned into a muscle aching, heart rendering project that may never end. Okay. I may be overstating that. But I do hurt. And to think I have a golf game to maintain. Wait a minute. There is nothing to maintain. That too, is a work in progress.

So part way through this week my son sent me a quote. It got me thinking, which comes as no surprise to most of you. Thinking about quotes is what I do best. Here goes. “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are so certain of themselves but wise people are so full of doubt.” (Bertrand Russell)

Perhaps I may go where I should not. But I will. I find it interesting how people have certain opinions. They stand staunchly for what they believe in. Sometimes I wonder if they have actually thought this through. Whether politically, religiously or any other way there might be, people hang their hats on certain beliefs and stand by that. They maintain that their beliefs or opinions are the one and only.

Sometimes I am envious of those people. Perhaps it makes the world easier to understand. Then again how do I understand when I discover that there are many that have different belief systems than I do? There are many that are experiencing life in a different way than I am. There are cultural differences. As far as I am concerned we do not live in a black and white world. There are various, dare I say many, different shades of gray. We must remain cognizant of that.

Having said that I will quit while I am ahead, if that is possible. So at the end of it all I am still uncertain which category I fall into. A fool, fanatic, or someone that is filled with doubts? I know I am filled with doubts. Whether politically, spiritually, or in any other sense of this world I live in. Does that make me wise? Me thinks not. But I am working on it. Make it a good one.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Things We Do

I just read a short blurb by Richard Branson. Now let me make this very clear. I am not a big fan of his. Okay, truth be told, I wouldn’t mind having some of his money and how about that hair. However in the blurb he says, and I quote; “If I were 22, I would be out working hard, playing hard and having the time of my life. Hang on, what's the difference between 22 and 63?” What a great thought.

How often do I get caught up in the past and what might have been and forget to live my life? Sorry, didn’t mean to ask you that question. I suspect anyone that reads my blurbs will suggest the answer to the question is, far too often. As humans we seem to have this innate desire to blame everything on the past and then we forget to live.

Sometimes I even forget the fact that I am living and that there are good thing happening in life. A friend asked me this morning how my weekend had been. My first inclination was to respond by saying it was a weekend. Why would I say anything else? After all my mind was consumed by challenges in my life.

When I finally did respond it went like this. I golfed Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Twice with friends from the community and once with my daughter’s boyfriend. Saturday our grandson came over to spend the night. Sunday morning the kids all came over for brunch cooked by our daughter. Monday I built a coffee table with my daughter. What the heck. I had an awesome weekend.

You heard me right. I built a coffee table. My daughter had found some wood that she thought would look good as a coffee table top. Add to that a naivety about her father’s carpentry skills and we have a project. Okay, truth be told, there is another part to this story. I tried to find every excuse in the book to get out of doing this. No excuse worked. And then my daughter used the ultimate tool. Guilt. Manipulation by guilt. My mother would have been proud. My daughter commented on how often I had taken her brothers golfing but never done anything for her. So in her opinion it was a done deal. At that point whether I had the skills to do this or not, it was going to happen.

Now you must know that I do have certain carpentry skills. I have built some things in my life. However you must also understand that if there was not a chainsaw around I would not even consider starting the project. A chainsaw was a necessity. And quite useful I might add. For coffee tables, not so much.

It did happen. I came to understand that with a little planning, which only involved three trips to Home Depot, a great deal of patience and lots of encouragement from my wife and daughter, I did have the ability to complete the project. It was fun. It turned out okay. Perhaps this can become a new career for me. Building furniture.

Don’t place your orders just yet. I think I need some practice. Perhaps even a diagram. Last night as I was reveling in what I had accomplished I realized we had forgotten an important piece. However the consensus was that it looked good, no further work required. Any flaws there were would get covered by paint. Works for me. Mission accomplished. Make it a good one.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

As I alluded to some time ago I am in the process of re-inventing my business. It was time to freshen up. Get with the now. With the type of business I have this becomes a difficult task for me. I am not selling a product. I am selling a service and to sell a service you need to sell yourself and to sell yourself you have to portray a certain confidence.

My son and I, bless his soul, took to the streets of Winnipeg this week. Seek out businesses that could, perhaps, use my services. Notice? Even in that statement I sound apologetic. My son embraced the job with enthusiasm. He approached the job with confidence. There was nothing holding him back. He jumped in with both feet. It was really neat to watch.

One of the places we went to, and it shall remain nameless although their receptionist needs a lesson in how to greet people, my son went into his spiel and tripped over his sales pitch. We walked out. He was mad at himself. He gave himself a tongue lashing. I took some comfort from that because that is a regular occurrence for me. I told him to get over it. I can preach it even if I can’t practice it.

We drove further down the street and a business caught my son’s eye. He said we needed to go there. He knew someone there. We pulled in, he grabbed some brochures, and confidently entered the business. My excuse for not going with him was that I needed to make a really important phone call. When he came out he was all smiles. It had been a success. People were interested. He felt he had redeemed himself.

I suggested to him that our mission that day was similar to a game of golf. You go out. You start whacking the ball. You have all sorts of expectations. And then reality hits. But as you all know, at least if you are a golfer, you make one good shot, you have one good hole, you know you will be back tomorrow. In fact there are some of us who don’t even have to have a good hole to come back the next day.

My son looked at me and informed me that there is actually a name for this. It is called intermittent positive reinforcement. He explained that gamblers often fall into this trap. The concept is simple enough. One small win and we are fooled into thinking that losing is impossible. Whether golf, gambling, our workplace, dare I say kids, perhaps even relationships, that becomes our mindset.

We know full well that nobody ever has only positive events in their lives. At least I don’t think so. Now, perhaps, if I was in perfect health, lots of money, good relationships, good job, although why would I need a job if I have lots of money, weather was always perfect, golf shots always went as planned, and there were absolutely no challenges in life, my life would be perfect, right? Probably not.

So we carry on. We have challenges that arise. How we deal with these challenges becomes the issue. The other day, as I was traveling into the city not feeling very good about my lot in life, I began to think of all the positive blessings I have in my life. I found my mood getting better. In some unknown way I was utilizing intermittent positive reinforcement. To me that helped in regaining focus on life. The kind of focus that helps me move forward. The kind of focus that helps me carry on in a positive way. The kind of positive that helps me get up in the morning to face the day. The kind of positive reinforcement I wish on all. Perhaps it is in our control. Think about it. Make it a good one.