Life Is A Scavenger Hunt

For Easter I created a scavenger hunt for my three year old grandson, Jackson.  The clues were not difficult, though my wife was stumped by one of them, Jackson went from one clue to the next with gleeful ease.  At the end of a series of clues he successfully found his Easter basket.  I do not know if it was more fun for him or for the adults that paraded behind him from one hiding place to the next.  The trail led Jackson to his favorite spots in and around our house.

Now where was I going?  Oh yeah, life is like a scavenger hunt.  We travel through life seeking the clues that will guide us to the next level.  If you have been a parent, will you ever forget that moment when your child takes their first step or maybe when they suddenly realize they can read.  They are small steps leading to the next level. First steps lead to mobility.  Reading leads to knowledge and knowledge leads to opportunities.  The key is to keep moving forward to your life’s next clue.

If we never look back.  If we keep seeking and reading the next clue, think of where they can lead.  In my line of work, I have met those who never miss an opportunity.  Each clue leads them forward and each step leads them closer to, credits to Monty Python, the meaning of life.  I have also seen those too afraid or just unwilling to look for the next clue.  They remain stuck, wondering why life is unfair.

But I can’t leave that meaning of life statement just hanging there.  Here is the rub.  We may never know the meaning of life.  I mean Monty Python tried, but even then it was more mystery than substance.  I suspect that the meaning of life is meant to be a mystery.  It is the final clue at the end of the scavenger hunt.  For now I will continue to look for the next clue.  What I do with the clue will depend on my interpretation of it.

Life is a scavenger hunt.  Keep looking for the clues.  Some are small and others immense.  Just make sure with each clue you improve the life you live, yours and the lives you touch.

Happy hunting.

They Don’t Know What They Don’t Know

With Easter just around the corner I feel obliged to record a family story.  The story dates back to my youngest daughter, Kathryn’s, Easter egg hunt.  She was about three and since birth had grown up in “The House of High Cholesterol”.  Trust me when I tell you it will become clear later in this story why that is significant.

We had all headed down to the community park for the annual neighborhood egg hunt.  While the older children were given a much more complex set of rules and far more difficult hiding spots, the three year old group had been invited to the bowl shaped lower area of the park.  There, not hidden at all, were hundreds of brightly colored eggs of the plastic kind, chock full of chocolate and sugar delights, and the actual, chickens had laid them, eggs.  Even from the top of the rise it was quite easy to see them all strewn about and waiting.

On the sound of the horn, which by the way scared half of the seekers into leg clutching terror, the brave ones were off on a run down the slope.  Kathryn eagerly chased down to the pit and then started wandering about among the eggs.  It did not take long for us to notice that she was not picking up any of them.  Shouts of encouragement and direction seemed to have no effect.  Eventually she came back up to us, tears running down her cheeks.  Through her gasps for air between sobs, we deciphered that she was telling us that there were no eggs down there.  At this point her sister steps in and points out the eggs lying about right there in the open and asks her just what is the problem.  I believe Bailey envisioned herself as the true parent here and was going to straighten her sister out.

Kathryn looks up at her and says those aren’t eggs.  At this point I stepped in, eager to be the caring and wise father, and asked her just what she thought an egg was?  She looks up at me with that tear streaked face and said, “you know, the little yellow boxes!”  If you haven’t made the connection, lets revisit “The House of High Cholesterol.”  It seems, we had never actually consumed a real egg for fear of immediate and excruciating death.  Her mother and I may have read a few too many medical reports on the evil plot chickens were hatching on us, yes pun intended.  The only eggs Kathryn had ever seen were in the little yellow boxes, namely, Egg Beaters.

The good news is, we were able to explain as rapidly as possible, the misconception about eggs and, thanks to those terror frozen three year old’s still clinging to their mother’s legs, there were plenty left for Kathryn to save her first Easter Egg Hunt drama.  Now several years later, at a Mallard’s game, Kathryn was one of the lucky names drawn to participate in the Infield Cash Dash.  Apparently we had done a bang up job in this department, for she had no issues finding cash.  I maybe, however could have explained that the bigger numbers on the bills out weighed the popularity of the face on it.  But I’ll save that for another story.

Just remember “They don’t know what they don’t know!”

Defending Your Life

The other day I was watching an older movie starring Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep titled “Defending Your Life”.  The gist of the plot is that when we die, our lives are put on trial before a pair of judges.  We are given a prosecutor and a defender tasked with convincing the judges that we should be allowed to move on into eternal bliss, or if we lose our case, sent back to earth to try it again in another life.

I found the premise enticing as food for thought.  As I am fast approaching my retirement date, thankfully not death, I am looking back to see if my life is defensible.  I know that I tried to accomplish a life set to the theme of being useful.  Now that doesn’t seem very heroic and I must say I have entertained many a heroic fantasy, but it was a goal.  I even felt redeemed when the famous Red Green would proclaim that “if you couldn’t be handsome at least be handy.”  I think being useful sort of fell into that category.

So was I useful?  I think as a bartender, I learned to listen to the story.  As a carpenter, I learned to be creative.  As a teacher, I felt I put those two practices to good use and found ways to engage my students through stories and creativity.  Later, as I moved into my most recent career as a planner, I took what I learned in teaching, the art of breaking a concept down to its core element, and used that notion, alongside listening to their story, to motivate my clients to both define and reach for their goal.  I apologize for that last lengthy almost legalese sentence, but all of those concepts belonged together and just couldn’t break out of their common sentence.  But to the point, measured against that back drop, I think I was useful.

Will I one day have to face the afterlife jury?  Will my life turnout to be defensible?  All I know is that heroic or not I think I will pass the test.  After all, it is not just my career on which I should be judged a success or a work needing more refinement, but on the lives I have touched or influenced in some way.  I have faith that I did a better than fair job of raising two remarkable human beings in my daughters.  I wish to believe that I can find an echo of my beliefs in their lives.  I am currently working on two grandchildren.  I have already had three years with my grandson, and I think he sees some possibilities in my ideas.  His sister will be my next project.  I hope she will witness my belief that a women should be respected for her beauty while honored for her strength.  Pretty sure there’s a truck under the Christmas tree right along with that pretty dress.

If life is the sum of it’s many pieces, I think the accomplishments should outweigh the back steps and even the bad decisions.  I am not done yet, but just moving into the next phase.  My hope for you the reader, is that you will reflect on your life and answer the question, “is my life defensible?”  If you aren’t sure of your answer, then adjust the future.