..The attacks on Christmas notwithstanding, anyone old enough to have interest in this column knows that the Christmas season can be like a beautiful lake … on the surface pristine and calm “like it’s suppose to be”; but underneath, life may not be (rarely is) quite as the carol writers imagined it. …Whatever your circumstance of the moment, BobLee offers a few reflections designed to lighten your load and lift your spirits.
I am of an age and circumstance to have capitalized on certain opportunities in life and to have managed to squander others along the way. Whether you play life fast and loose or close to the vest; however you measure your priorities … it is a finite experience for each of us. I have picked my epitaph – “Honey, Daddy, Friend”
During freshman orientation in college we took the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Index or something close to that). It was a series of personal preferences which 18 y/os were painfully unprepared to make, designed to orient you into curriculum majors and then into occupational careers that fit your “personality”.
Every 18 y/o knows what “the right answers” are supposed to be. The classic question involved a list of occupations and you grade your preference for each. One was always “Accountant” and one was always “Forest Ranger”. I have never met anyone who checked “Forest Ranger” including many actual Forest Rangers.
We all saw ourselves as “People Persons” too … the “buzz” phrase of the 60s. Even the most antisocial psychopaths checked all the “like people” choices. It was pretty much understood that Forest Rangers were NOT “people persons”. I filled out that MMPI, signed up for a nice respectable liberal arts curriculum which I completed with a gentlemanly B and set forth to claim my appointed destiny.
I know not what course others took; but it hit me in my mid 30s that I SHOULD HAVE CHECKED “FOREST RANGER”. I subsequently walked away from a very respectable corporate career and took off for Mexico for a year. I went without a haircut, a shave, or socks for 12 months. 20 years later I have not decided whether that year qualified as “taking advantage of a unique opportunity” or “abysmally stupid” … there is a very fine line twixt the two.
With a resume that stretches from “corporate executive” to “you did WHAT for a year?” I have managed to eke out a living on the periphery of reasonably polite society ever since. The closest I’ve ever gotten to “Forest Ranger” was getting on Cabelas mailing list.
I may never reach the rarified air of “mogul”, “poobah”, “city father”, “power that Be”, or (the ultimate) “Fat Cat”; but somewhere and somehow along life’s rocky road I did manage to acquire three “titles”. “Honey … Daddy … Friend”. While I definitely have a To Do list of “before I die” tangible objectives, I realize more with each day that no other achievements will ever surpass those.
“Honey” means I was fortunate enough to find a spouse for an extended period of time (20 years and counting) and our relationship is close enough that we have well-established endearing nicknames for each other. I grew up in a “nickname” culture as is the norm in “the South”. I hope you have someone you are close enough with to share affectionate nicknames. Having “succeeded” in that endeavor, I will be remembered as Mizzus Swagger’s “Honey”.
“Daddy” means there is an offspring that feels enough affection for me to voluntarily call me “Daddy”. “Having children” is certainly not a requirement for a “fulfilled life”. If you don’t have that circumstance you don’t know what you missed I suppose. I can’t dunk a basketball, hit a one-iron, or play a harmonica … but I do know what it is like to have someone say “Daddy” and realize they are talking to me.
“Friend” means that along life’s ribbon of highway I have picked up enough acquaintance flotsam and jetsam that I am confident I can pass the following test. Are there 6 people beyond your family that would, uncoerced, admit to being your “friend”? In a circumstance where you were not present and your name was brought up in a random fashion would they simply admit they “knew you” or would they freely volunteer that “he is a friend of mine”. That difference is subtle but significant.
(You could call the above test … “will my family have to pay my pallbearers?”)
Accumulated years brings with them those annoying drug store “magnifiers”, the inability to pee my name in the snow, and an awareness of the term “acid reflux” … but it also has vastly diminished my “desire to acquire”. I can while away hours at a Sharper Image or Brookstone; but walk out empty handed with “I can live just fine without it” contentment. That is never more manifested than in this season of giving and receiving. If you have ever wondered what an Internet Legend wants for Christmas … (1) a dozen pair of new underwear (throwing out all the old) … (2) a new Pergo floor for BobLee’s Fortress of Solitude … (3) the latest Clive Cussler “Dirk Pitt” adventure novel. That’s it!
Mizzus Swagger is beginning to share my minimalist approach to life. Kid is about 30 years away from the slightest understanding of the concept. The Mizzus and I have instituted this deal where we never arbitrarily store something IN the attic without bringing something else down and taking it to Goodwill. An almost empty attic may be our most endearing legacy to Kid Swagger. If you’ve ever had to settle an estate you understand what I mean.
Some eccentrics have been buried with all their toys. I think they called those particular eccentrics “Pharaohs”. For most of us our final journey will allow for considerably less than the obligatory one carry-on and “a personal bag”. I am therefore content that I have managed to earn the honor of being somebody’s “Honey – Daddy – Friend”. I hope you are too (allowing for gender equivalents of course).
Certainly the “Honey & Daddy” tracts are not always “in the cards” for everyone; but I checked with the U.S. Park Service and even Forest Rangers can have Friends.
I choose to count my blessings rather than my burdens … I have tried the other way and the burdens became overwhelming. Whatever those burdens be … occupational, relationships, financial, health or just discontent with that face in the mirror … we all are dealt our share. No one is spared. Burdens ebb and flow throughout our lives but the larder is rarely empty. I can’t help you much with the “Honey” or “Daddy (Mommy)” issues but if you visit this site often you know my personal formula for increasing those friendships … For Heaven’s Sake – NEVER make something as truly insignificant as “fan allegiance” a criteria.
The Internet is an odd world, but in as much as our modems and monitors permit, I am grateful for each of you who trade me your time and attention in exchange for a little silliness designed to lighten your daily burdens. I only need one “Honey” and I am “Daddy” to only one … but I shall harvest “Friends” forever.
What Department Store employed Kris Kringle?
To Wuffies, Heels, Deacons, Devils, Pirates, Forest Rangers
& even Athletic Directors.