I’ve been sitting here staring at the blank space on my computer for two days now trying to settle in on a subject that might be uplifting but no matter what I try to write it all seems to be just a lead in to those murders in the theatre in Louisiana or on a triple fatality we had recently on Interstate 85. It was a DWI incident involving a 20-year-old UNC student who was driving northbound in the southbound lane on the interstate. Alcohol was involved. One child is dead, one is in critical condition in the hospital and the driver and one other passenger are dead. The student who was driving alone had an open container of alcohol in his vehicle, a carton of beer, and was hospitalized with non life threatening injuries. What a tragedy. What a waste. Alcohol and gasoline do not mix. That triple fatality occurred just a couple of miles from our home. This is not something six states away or over in Afghanistan.This is just down I-85. I worked in the safety field for 35 years with the railroad, less two with the army, and then another 32 years since I left the railroad. A lot has been done in the schools to discourage drinking and driving among teens and youth but somehow this one fell through the cracks as he completed two years of college… and all I can do about it is say a prayer for those who are hurting and make a vow to find something uplifting for next week. May God bless America and keep our troops safe and our students too.
The other day I had an incident in our front yard involving our big old pine tree and my 2004 Ford Escape vehicle smashing the tail light assembly on the passenger side.
My guesstimate was around forty bucks but when they looked up the part for me at Auto Zone their computer showed it priced at $119 plus tax and that was not installed. I asked the kind gent if he thought I might find a used one.
He was kind enough to refer me to Isaac Torain,. owner and proprietor of T & T Auto Service & Repair on Highway 86 N. in Hillsborough, just down the road a piece.
I drove into his establishment and declared, “A tree has rear ended my vehicle and destroyed the tail light assembly, Sir.” It took Mr. Torain a few minutes to get adjusted to me. He was working on a truck in his shop. After a nice visit he promised to look up the part and see if he might find a used one for me and, true to his word, he called me the next morning to report that he had located just what I needed at Wagner’s Auto Salvage over at Durham, just down I-40 from us a piece. I drove over there and picked up the assembly. Looking brand spanking new it cost me just $35 plus tax and when I brought it back over to Mr. Torain he quickly installed it and graciously accepted $20 for his service. The slogan on his business card was, “Service at reasonable prices.”
Now if I had taken that into my Ford Dealer for repairs I could just imagine sitting in their air conditioned customers’ lounge while they drummed up an estimate that would exceed my deductible. I would have to report it to my insurance company and they would consider it a “moving collision” and they would either cancel my insurance or raise my policy cost for the remainder of my lifetime.
The tree? Not one little bit of damage.
And you ask me why I love it here in beautiful old Hillsborough, North Carolina. Well, because of the people like Isaac, that’s why.
Since my 86th birthday I have been examining my life, my body and my brain in an effort to determine what direction I might like to follow for a few years trial. I’ve worn enough paths to my past in these recent years and now I hope to find a way to look to the future. I wrote a tribute book on John H. Burdakin and our experiences on the Grand Trunk Western Railroad and for too long now I have been working on a stab at an autobiography. After over 700 pages and countless illustrations I have concluded that possibly I should condense it down to just one photo and a maximum of 500 words. Otherwise who might possibly read it?
I also wrote an illustrated booklet thanking those people who have truly touched my life.Then I also tracked down the life of one poem that I had written so many years ago and of the merry life it has lived.
Then I put together a humorous illustrated booklet demonstrating how my weird sense of humor performs in the middle of the night while I’m still half asleep.
Jean says I’ve had enough of the past and it is time for me to live in the present. A recent visit to Raleigh found me with Cy, my awesome 6 month old step-great grandson in my arms and I couldn’t help but thinking about the fact that Cy is the present and the future. He and his mom Michelle and his dad Derek. They represent the future and I’d say that it looks to me that the world will be in pretty good hands. I guess that my role now is to learn to enjoy their victories and console their setbacks and to smile the best I can.
A friend of mine once told me that I was the luckiest person he knew because I managed to turn all of my hobbies and talents into a successful full time job. When I think about it I know my friend was right. I’ve said it before, since I went full time with professional speaking and writing I haven’t worked a day, it was all pleasure. Since I loved what I was doing I didn’t call it work but I sure did put in some long hours following that road. I have always chuckled inside when people come up to me and ask about how they might become a professional speaker. They wold see the fun I was having delivering a speech and somebody might tell them about the fees I was demanding and then visions of sugar plums would dance in their minds. “That is what I want to do.” They often say. Just work an hour a day and let the money roll in. Of course The speaking and the applause is just a tiny part of what I have done successfully for over 40 years now. What I don’t harp on is that it took me over twenty years of trial and failure before I finally got the ear of somebody that was in a position to help me get rolling with my talents. At one point in my speaking career I wrote a book titled Selling Lucky. Then I gave hundreds of presentations as Mr. Lucky, a guy in a green and white tuxedo. My business cards were Lucky Bucks. I wrote Lucky Selling Ideas for sales magazines. I had special music that went with my introduction. Mr. Lucky was my brand. My only problem was that I didn’t believe in just luck. I finally found a quote that was right for my way a thinking. it went, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” This quote is attributed to Roman philosopher Seneca. So I guess you might say that I spent over twenty years preparing and seeking out the opportunity and then those other opportunities I needed to suddenly become “Lucky.”
Let me ask you, What are you doing in your life right now in the way of preparation?
I figure writing this newsletter is a lot like exercising my mind. Some days it just doesn’t feel like exercising and others it can’t wait to get at it. All I need is a seed of an idea and I can make it grow into a column. Oh yeah, some days I have had a crop failure.
It is hard for me to remember back to when I wasn’t writing. And harder yet is the thought of going through a whole week without turning out something on my computer. I’m forever working on books and booklets, knocking out something new or at least a different approach to something old. When I get rolling on a new idea I can feel the blood rushing to my brain and I can often go for weeks with daily inspirations. My 86th birthday is coming up on July 5th and I can still remember going to a printer and having business cards made that read, “Art Fettig, Freelance Writer”. What a brave and wonderful declaration. That was back in 1961.
I believe that business cards are a good idea…making a printed declaration to the whole world that you are serious about your hobby and ready to buckle down to the hard work of making your dream come true.
Right this moment I have to finish this thing because it is time for me to drive over to the Sportsplex and exercise some of my other muscles. I do believe though that I exercised the most important ones writing this article. Why don’t you give this mental exercising a trial? Stretch your imagination. Exercise your body, exercise your mind and one day a week exercise your prerogative to not exercise at all.
I’ve looked at thousands of people in audiences all over the world and said, “There is greatness in you.” I just figured that many of those people had never heard that message before and they needed to hear it. I believed that what I was saying was true and I hoped that I could get them to believe it. From some of the feedback I have received over the years I do conclude that many of them started believing that and with that belief then went out and found some measure of success in their lives. Compare that with what many kids have heard again and again. “You rotten kid. You’re just like your father. You are going to be nothing but trouble the rest of your life.” “We become what we think about all day long.” Ralph Waldo Emerson said it. Earl Nightingale repeated it. Budda said it too. I had a record by Earl Nightingale in the years when my life was most troubled and I listened to it again and again and again. “We become what we think about.” Try thinking, “There is greatness in me.” Drum it into your subconscious mind. Next start searching for some inkling of greatness in yourself. Oh, you won’t see greatness when you first look for it. It might just be a rough talent that has made itself known. Look for something that you enjoy doing. I discovered writing and speaking and I worked for many years honing those rough talents and it was years before I found success using these talents.
Search for a Mentor that might see that spark of greatness in you. A mentor who had shown the world his or her greatness, even if it is in the early stages. Get online and check out Ted.com and seek a segment that ties in with your talent inkling. Never forget…There is greatness in you. Now get out and find it.
This morning I inadvertently sent off my newsletter without this lead article in it. Oh, I had written a lead article alright but I had the good sense to delete it. Don’t you wish you could just go back in your memory and delete some of the things you have said or written in your past? Things you said in anger, in spite, with the aid of stupidity on your side? I wonder how my life might have been changed if I had just carried a delete button around with me in some of my business and my personal dealings. Did you ever have a phone conversation with somebody only to learn later that you had the wrong person on the line? Delete.
Maybe you are a bit like me? Maybe you wish you had a great editor walking through life with you to cheer you on or to flat out tell you to “Shut up!” when it is called for. But no, we don’t have editors, most of us, and we stumble along through life just doing the best we can. Someone at IBM once captured some of the best advice ever offered and they did it with just one word. Here it is, are you ready? THINK
Jean and I visited Battle Creek, Michigan recently and as we do each visit, we drove past my old home. We were amazed. It looked brand new even though it was probably built perhaps 85 years ago. Evidently a total restoration had been done on it. All new windows, the brick has been cleaned, and we lucked out and got a total tour of the inside. WOW! What a shock. From basement to attic it is all different. The attic, where I did so much writing in late hours in heat or cold is a mess of tubing for the new central air conditioning throughout the house. The front end of the master bedroom has a big new bathroom with a tub that will accommodate two at a time. Hmmm. With that old enormous coal burning furnace out of the way, the basement looks like a roller skating rink. Oh, the memories that house holds. Ruthie and I moved there in 1961, she died in 1993 and I moved out in 2001 to North Carolina with new wife Jean. The back yard has a lovely deck now and a garden that is bursting to bloom, plus a tall fence with a swinging gate that looks as if it is out of Home Beautiful. That house brings back so many good memories and many painful ones too. It was a nice visit but home is now in North Carolina and I am so happy to be back here.
It is almost breakfast time and my wife Jean is in the kitchen preparing a wonderful meal for us as she does most mornings. What will it be, fresh eggs with ham or bacon or perhaps sausage for a change? Or will it be oatmeal with raisins or maybe blueberries? We have a choice of breakfast cereals and fresh fruit, or maybe she will fix up waffles or pancakes. We might even go out for hot biscuits with such a variety of fixin’s that it might make your eyes bug out. Hot tea for me. We have so much to be thankful for. She is 80 now and I am 85 and our pensions are serving us well. Before we begin to eat we pray thanks to the Lord for our blessings.
Our home has a new heat pump providing comfortable temperatures all year long. The view of the trees all around us is ever changing and wonderful. Our neighbors are friendly. We go to church on Sunday and we love the people in our congregation.
My biggest joy is writing and I write a weekly newsletter, or some call it a blog. I write a book or two each year just for my own enjoyment. I sometimes recite poetry and each month I try to visit at least one nursing center or senior event to entertain as best I might. We still travel some. Not as much as before when our legs were stronger and we flitted around like fireflies. And yes, we still love each other very much, thank you.
I don’t believe you will see us on the evening news.
I’m just telling you all this because our hearts are full with a love for this nation. Life is good and we thank God for it. Have a good day.
Years ago I wrote a song and one line went like this, “The things a fella thinks about when he doesn’t know what’s wrong, could fill a book and still have plenty left to write a song.” For some reason that line went creeping through my mind this morning. It is a pretty good description of fear or worry and for some reason I started thinking about America. Over the years we have had a lot of positive thinkers who have dreamed wonderful, seemingly impossible dreams about the future of this nation and then, working together, we Americans have made some awesome dreams come true. Well, I don’t know what’s wrong but we don’t seem to be on the right track right now. We don’t seem to all be pulling in the same direction for the good of this wonderful nation of ours. Maybe we are thinking too much about ourselves and not enough about one another. I can’t put my finger on the problem but I sure think it’s there.