Nobody is born being an expert. We might all have different aptitudes for various skills but it’s practice that makes perfect. Even if we achieve the skill level of “expert” that doesn’t mean that we are free from simple human error. Suddenly being faced with the undeniable truth that you’ve made a royal screwup is God’s way of keeping us humble. In other words, oopsies are the great leveling force of the universe. Remember, it was experts that built the Titanic and amateurs that built the Ark.
When I saw the collection of lost fishing tackle snagged in the overhead power lines my first thought was that someone’s kids had been on their first fishing trip. This inspired the meme below.
But after some thought I began to consider the phenomenon of “muscle memory”. If you are trained to cast a line with a high arc you might not think to adjust your cast while standing under the power lines. Your reflexes would kick in and your body would react out of pure instinct. You would do the right thing but at the wrong time. This kind of mistake happens to all of us and it happens more often than we care to admit. It also happens during the thought process and when reacting to something that someone else has said or done. I think that’s why it’s important to be quick to forgive. Jesus said to let he who is without sin cast the first stone. While there’s different interpretations of what was being implied in this statement I believe that at least in part Jesus was pointing out that errors in actions often include errors in judgment and nobody is immune from this. The experts in the law were reacting out of reflex without examining the circumstances. It’s the same kind of mistake we all make every day.
Friends gather on the banks of the beautiful Kanawha River at Glen Ferris West Virginia. They’ve come to enjoy the warm sun and the cool waters. Playfully they leap into the air for the occasional game of tag and to float on the warm air as it rises and carries them to the tops of the trees. Their lives are completely devoid of aggression and malcontent. They soar on the slightest breeze because they have no burdens to hold them down.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that good will leads to a happier place in life. It is a promise made to us by God. We all have good days and bad days. There’s days when I can get triggered by the slightest little thing and before I can stop myself I’ve said or done something that I regret for weeks. And, you know what? It takes twice as much expression of good will to free me from that regret. I might feel like I was winning a debate or putting someone else in their place but the truth is that those actions become a burden almost immediately. So, if you want to know the real secret of joy and freedom it’s benevolence.
Most of us are familiar with The Little Engine That Could. However, it occurs to me that some of my international friends may not have been told the story as a child so here is a summery.
The little train engine was loaded heavy and faced a long stretch of tracks up a steep mountain. The climb was hard but he kept repeating “I think I can. I think I can.” Over and over until he was over the top. It’s a preschool classic tale about the power of positive thinking. Proverbs 23:7 tells us that the Heart’s thoughts forms us into what we are as a person. In other words, how we identify ourselves determines how we behave. Do we see ourselves as the happy one? The fun one? The smart one? Maybe we see ourselves as the one who has a good heart but is always being taken advantage of. Whatever it is it’s that self identity that influences what we will do in any given situation. Even if the choice is being made subconsciously we are still making a choice. What forms that self identity can be pretty complicated but as I understand it we get a lot of this from the opinions of others. I once witnessed one of the cruelest pranks known to mankind when working in a prefab housing factory. The short version is that multiple people who was in on the prank simply asked this person if he was feeling okay. No suggestion of what might have caused the question was to be made. After several inquiries the otherwise healthy young man left early claiming he felt ill. The opinions of the group had so much influence on his opinion of himself that he manifested symptoms of illness. The next day he was told by several people that he looked well and that his recovery was amazing and he had one the most productive days ever! It was all done by manipulating his opinion of himself. And that brings me back to The Little Engine That Could. By repeating to himself that positive thought over and over he brought out the best that was inside himself and overcame the obstacle before him.
I try to keep these two stories in mind when I’m feeling down. One of them I learned as a child and the other I witnessed first hand. The lesson I learned was that positive thoughts can improve my quality of life. Also, with the rise of social media we’re more likely to encounter people like the coworkers who made a person sick simply with the power of suggestion. Keep that in mind when listening to the negative opinions yourself and others that might be floating around out there and never hesitant to give a kind word to someone who might need it to get through the day.
Life is a lot like music. The musical scale contains only twelve basic notes. And yet, those twelve notes have spawned every song known to mankind. Life also has its basic elements and rhythm. While I’m not a musician myself my understand is that it’s the bridge that ties it all together. As life changes from one phase to the next we look for a bridge to facilitate the transition. Some bridges are shorter than others but all of them are temporary. How bad would your favorite song be if it was all bridge? We’d miss the best part of the song. Life’s bridges may not be the best part of life but they do take us to those places. We just need keep moving forward.
Not every open doorway should be explored. Too often we fail to recognize the difference between can we and should we. The old saying is that “God doesn’t close one door without opening another.” I’ve found this to be true but I’ve also learned that Satan also opens doors. Sometimes it takes a lot of prayers to figure out which is which. And, always trust that gut feeling that tells you that something doesn’t seem right. Especially when you can’t see what waits in the shadows just beyond the threshold.
About tonight’s Feature image. Up until recently I thought this abandoned building was a train station but I have learned that it’s actually an abandoned bowling alley. We live at the northernmost range where Kudzu can grow. Every summer the kudzu completely swallows not just the building and every winter it all but vanishes.
This one is the reflection of a cloud on Summersville Lake. I snapped the photo on a whim and it’s one of the first photos I ever took with a quality camera. What I like the most about this particular image is contrast in harmony. The cloud is a symbolic representation of the element of air floating on water. In order to get the image I had to point my lens away from the sky. The photo shows two forms of water in the same place at the same time. The cool blue-green color of the lake belies the near tropical weather we had the day I took the photo.
Nature loves balance. We tend to think of world in terms positive and negative depending on how something impacts our lives. Sometimes I like to think of these situations more in terms of ebb and flow. A balanced life will experience both sides of the equation. The old adage is that “in every life a little rain must fall.” I assure you that Summerville Lake is drained every year and that without a lot of rain there would be no peaceful days floating on that beautiful blue-green water. This is the simple concept that pulls me though the tough times. There will be a wonderful calm after the storm. Balance will eventually bring the nice things back around in my direction.
Patiently she sat in the meadow waiting for her turn. She dreamed of the day that her opportunity would come. She made lists and organized. Everything was ready. She only needed a chance. She wrote herself letters and kept them in a journal. Each on starting with the words “To my future self…” She kept all her plans stacked neatly in a box so that everything would be perfect once her opportunity arrived. She never got stressed out by the wait. She kept faith. Each morning she walked to the little meadow by the road and waited. She was there as sun rose and when the sun set on the opposite horizon. Sometimes the wind would come and she had to hold on so tightly to her little box of plans that her knuckles would turn white but she was fierce and prevailed against the wind. Other days the rain fell so hard that the meadow seemed to become a lake but still she would not be defeated. She held her little box of plans high above her head so they would not be washed away. When the snow and ice came the fire in her heart blazed brightly and once more her little box of plans remained secure. Nothing could rob her of her dreams. She was strong and beautiful and determined. She only lacked one crucial element. The opportunity she waited on never came to this meadow. And she waits there still.
We can have the best laid plans.
We can have the heart of a lion.
We can have all the faith in world.
And, we can have too much patience when waiting for an opportunity instead of traveling beyond our comfort zone and creating the opportunity ourselves.
Living is an action word. It might be difficult to know which action is the right one but inaction is the wrong state of being. Sure, timing is important. But time is also fleeting. Don’t wait too long. Do something every day to achieve at least a little piece of your goal. That’s how progress is made.