Author: Tommy


My Sermon For Christ


                       

🎡 I ran across this question the other day: What would your sermon be about if you had the opportunity to preach to Christ? I gave that some thought, then, on my next visit to our Sunday church service, I asked our minister that question. He thought for a moment and said he really didn’t know; he would have to give it some thought.

 I know what my sermon would be. I would tell Jesus how much his wisdom has affected the world, making us strive to be better than our innate self wanted to be, thanking him for sacrificing his life to atone for our sins, and expressing our gratitude for our many blessings. Then, I would ask him what Heaven’s like since there isn’t a detailed description of it in the bible, to my knowledge. If I get in, will I see my parents, grandparents, and other loved ones? Since they don’t have their earthly body, will I be able to recognize them?

I would ask him if he would revise the Ten Commandments or leave them as they are. Then I would ask him about the elephant in the room: Am I living a life that will get me admitted into Heaven? Heck, I might even ask him about John the Baptist or if he (Christ) had any siblings. How old was he when he knew his Father had given him special powers? Does he let his angels visit us occasionally? Has he really counted every hair on our head, or is it his way of saying he’s watching us closely? Does he really know what’s in our hearts, or does he judge us based on our actions?

The obvious question I need to ask myself is: have I asked him these questions in my prayers? The answer is a very positive “NO.” That doesn’t seem like something I need to include in my prayers. I have read the bible from cover to cover, looking for the answers, and could not get them clearly resolved.

Sometimes I feel that I’m not sure of anything. As a young boy, I loved the smell of snow. As an adult, I’m not sure I have ever smelled snow. What would I do if I saw an angel? Would that convince me beyond doubt there is a heaven?

How would Christ feel if I delivered a sermon in his presence? He would feel like it was an inquisition instead of a sermon. Arthur Conan Doyle said, “There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” Maybe that’s my problem 😊.

🎡 I read an article that said a Yale research study found that listeners have a good chance of discerning whether someone has a college degree by listening to the person speak just seven words. At first thought, well, what are the seven words? Turns out it can be any word; it makes no difference. Within seven of them, you can tell if a person has a college degree. The people that performed the research did not talk to me because, regardless of my many years on this planet, I cannot determine if a person is college educated within their first seven words. I don’t believe how intelligent you are is determined by the sheepskin on your wall.

Today, college is more important than when I was a youngster. Back in the mid-20th century, a high school diploma was all that was required to land a job that paid a decent salary. Today, an undergraduate degree often isn’t enough to get great jobs. I’m more inclined to believe you can discern someone’s educational level by their bearing, not their choice of words. My granddaughter, Christine, has a Ph.D., and I challenge anyone to tell that by talking to her. She always talks on the level of the people she is with and is never condescending. Many of us think that if you are well educated, it automatically qualifies you as being intelligent, failing to understand there are many worthless college degrees, some available with minimal effort.

I’m more inclined to judge people by their ideas and how they express themselves than anything else. I enjoy people that speak concisely and thoughtfully. I grew up as a “hill Billy” and used the colloquial words “han’t” (I have not) and “ain’t (am not, has not, have not, is not, are not). I dropped the former(‘han’t’) by the time I was in the 7th grade, but I still use the latter often 😊. I’ll bet if the Yale surveyors interviewed me and I used “ain’t, they would drop me in the bucket that said, “no college,” and they would be wrong. I wonder if it would surprise them that I have listened to 743 audiobooks since January 2007. I have been a lover of books my entire life. I remember reading comic books at age five, trying to figure out the words hovering above the mouths of the characters within. By the time I was in the third grade, I had a stack of comic books almost as tall as I was. No one in my circle of friends could read better than I, and that love of reading has been with me all my life. No, I don’t have an enormous collection of physical books, but I have a database filled with audiobooks and the ratings I gave each. I can tell you when I purchased it and when it was read. I have traveled the world, been into outer space and plunged ocean depths, by listening to these books. Come to think of it, I would rather judge someone by the books they read than by whether they went to college. In Matthew, Chapter 7, verse 1 of the Bible it says, “Judge not, they ye be not judged.” I need to pay more attention that verse 😊.

🎡 My wife is often amused that I use hand gestures as I talk. I was unaware of it, so I started paying attention, and sure enough, she was right. Now, I pay attention to others to see if they do the same thing, and so far, it’s a mixed bag. I have concluded that those of us that do, are using our hands to illustrate what we’re trying to say. I believe that we are more intense in trying to convince someone of what we’re saying, and we bolstered that belief with the movements of our arms and hands. A crude but prime example would be if I used the F*** word and flipped you the bird. I have never made that obscene gesture.

Along with hand gestures, I’m impressed with people that laugh easily. I think the ability to laugh reveals a personality that is open to humor and resistant to depression. I have known quite a few depressed people, and none smiled easily or talked positively. When I meet new people for the first time, I look for an amiable smile and a cheerful outlook. I have an extensive list of friends with those qualities and a few that don’t. I think cheerful people have a light in their eyes that rejoices the heart and renews a belief that something good lies in wait just around the corner. They believe no exercise strengthens the heart more than reaching down and lifting someone up. So, look for those traits when looking for a friend. It has always worked for me. Now you know my secret. 😊

 Jean-Jacques Rousseau said, “People who know little are usually great talkers, while men who know much say little.” Hmm, that’s probably not the quote I wanted to use here. 😊


I Hate Being Wrong!


🎡 I hate to be wrong. It always makes me feel diminished when I discover that what I thought was true is not true. Somehow, I have associated being right with being good and being wrong, if only occasionally 😊, making me somewhat less than I should be. From what I have read, the psychological theory of “cognitive dissonance” (holding conflicting ideas simultaneously) prevents us from realizing we are wrong. My understanding of that condition is when your actions contradict your beliefs. Examples of that would be smoking while knowing the health risk or telling a lie while considering yourself an honest person. These conflicts usually result in feelings of anxiety or worse.
Often, upon finding out we were wrong about something, we feel offended and double down with the belief that we were right. I recently commented on the history of the relationship between Russia and Ukraine. I falsely believed they had a shared history and that many Ukrainians felt a kinship to Russia before the current war began. My good friend (Jerry) corrected me, informing me that wasn’t true. A lot of air swiftly left my sails, and I was determined to prove my opinion correct. Sadly, after researching, I discovered that only 17% of Ukraine’s population is Russian. Even though they were founding members of the Soviet Union, their history is twisted.
As I read on, I could feel the disbelief within me growing. How could I be so wrong when I follow current events closely? The thought was that if I was wrong about this, maybe I was wrong about many other things.
That brings me back to the “cognitive dissonance” question. Why would I believe I’m always right in my assumptions when I know deep down I’m not? It always “gets my goat” when I realize I was mistaken about something. The people I know that easily accept being corrected when they are wrong deserve my respect. As Carl Sagan expressed so wisely, “Let us temper our criticism with kindness. None of us comes fully equipped.” Heck yeah!

🎡 I was a little upset when I read recently that an early indicator of memory issues is giving up on reading books of fiction. The article said that when dementia starts, people switch to reading nonfiction. The reasoning behind it is that fiction requires active engagement with the text, starting at the beginning and working through to the end. In other words, you must remember what the character did on page four when you get to page twelve; otherwise, what happens on that page makes no sense. That worries me a bit because I have switched almost entirely to nonfiction within the last year. The audiobook I’m currently listening to is “Vicksburg” by Donald L. Miller, and I have to go back many months to find a fictional one.
I don’t know why I worry about dementia so often. Maybe it’s because I see so much of it around me. The other day, an article said that you lose ten points in your IQ between the ages of 50–70, which made me wonder what it was from 70 to 81. Daily, I do several things that test my ability to recall things: citing all our presidents in chronological order, the alphabet backward, and a plan to add all our vice presidents and first ladies. These things will help me, I hope, ward off or delay the dreaded dementia that every intelligent person predicts will rear its ugly head in my life one day. Perhaps I will be lucky, defy the odds, and escape its grasp completely. My wife thinks I worry too much about stuff like that, but my reasoning is that if I know it can happen, I should try to prevent it. Joan Didion said, “The willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life is the source from which self-respect springs.” That’s precisely what I’m trying to do. 😊.

🎡 I remember Flip Wilson in a comedy routine where he said, “I’m gonna pray now; anyone want anything?”. That thought brought a smile to my face. I’m guilty of asking God for many things, and I’m sure he tires of my endless pleas. My Aunt Beulah turned 93 earlier this year, and many love her dearly. Last week I was told that she has pneumonia and Covid. My heart sank as the memories I had of her during my childhood came flooding back. We all have special people in our lives, and we believe they will always be there, but we all know that’s not how life works. I pray that He will allow her to stay with us a little longer.
My friend Reese told me once that life is like a bus. As it moves down the street, people get on and off. In my long life, many of the people I love have gotten off the bus, and I know my turn will come in due time, but it doesn’t lessen the pain of losing a cherished family member or friend.
I can’t remember the winter I turned old, but I’m guessing it was in my 60s when you’re supposed to reach the age of wisdom. It’s fair to wonder when that wisdom thing happens if, in fact, it does at all. We all implore it to arrive before we get the door knock from the “Grim Reaper,” but we have no guarantees.
My Aunt Beulah was a beautician before she changed careers and went to college and studied to become a schoolteacher. She taught in our two-room schoolhouse when I was in elementary school. Grades 1-3 were in the first room and 4-6 in the second. I was in fourth grade, and my brother Jerry was in 3rd, so she taught him, not me. We all admired her teaching skills and kindness. I’m confident many people remember her from her many years of teaching. We have all had special teachers in our lives, and we know they cannot be memorable as teachers unless they are unique as human beings. That describes my Aunt Beulah very well.
They have moved her from the hospital to a rehab facility, and we plan on going back home to visit her soon. I pray for her recovery.

🎡 This certainly has been a hot summer, and we are being told that it’s all because of “Climate Change.” The people in charge of everything seem to think that those of us in charge of nothing aren’t doing what’s beneficial for our climate. They are wrong because I know many of us are engaged in recycling and reducing energy consumption. We are all aware that we cannot continue to pollute our environment and expect future residents of this beautiful planet to enjoy the life we have been privileged to live. We are moving towards having our energy needs met by nuclear, solar, and wind power. A movement is also underway to switch from gasoline-powered personal transportation to electric vehicles. Our country consumes about twenty million barrels of petroleum daily (7 billion per year). We cannot vaporize that much fuel and expect our weather to stay the same. It’s little wonder that our climate is close to being toxic.
Oddly, I was unaware of this as a younger man. Of course, I was unaware of the dangers of smoking as well. We cannot correct the things unknown to us, but we should always correct our harmful ways after we gain that knowledge. Many years ago, a close relative was told she had diabetes and could manage it without help if she changed her diet to one more healthy and lost weight. She took charge, signed up for Weight Watchers, and began immediately losing weight. That lasted about a year, then she returned to her old habits and suffered from diabetes for the rest of her life.
We all can be good environmentalists when gasoline is $2.00/gallon, but everyone wants the oil barons to pump more oil when it’s the price of a bucket of diamonds. Somehow, we have to summon the courage to look past our current miseries and start planning on leaving a planet that was just as good as it was when we arrived. It will require sacrifices, but I believe we are up to it. We must avoid making an initial effort and then giving up because it’s too difficult. Anton Chekhov said, “One must be a god to tell successes from failures without making a mistake.” I don’t think so😊.


Ten Years Kaput!


🎡 A few days ago, I sent my old iPad (2012) to a close family member, hoping she could still put it to beneficial use. I used it primarily for guitar practice, but it was no longer what I needed, so I replaced it with a new one. But before I gave it away, I needed to wipe all my information off and reset it back to its original state. 

I downloaded the instructions on how to do that from the internet and began completing the steps shown. As I sat there and watched what was being removed, I realized that ten years of my life, my vacation notes, schedules, music, and pictures of visits with friends and relatives were being wiped clean. 

After all the tasks were completed, and the iPad was back to its original state, I felt a little sad. I’m confident that almost everything was backed up, but I know some things were not and are gone forever. Oh well, such is the way of life. I just hope that the disc between my two ears never needs resetting 😊.

🎡 I ran across this quote by Masami Saionji and could not discern its intent: “What you think about day and night forms your character and personality.”

My first thought was if you prefer one over the other, it reveals something about you versus someone who has no preference. I cannot see that if you like night to day, it makes your life more interesting, or if you prefer day, it makes you less so. I am more inclined to believe that people who prefer night are younger because that’s when they attend parties, ball games, etc. People that prefer days are, in my opinion, older and use daylight for getting things done, the evenings for winding down, and by 10:30 pm, headed for bed and a quiet night’s sleep. 

As far as a preference for day or night forming your personality, I’m inclined to believe it is strictly age-related and has very little to do with it. However, John 3:19-20 says: “The light has come into the world and the children of men loved the darkness more than the light, because their works were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.” Of course, Masami could be referring to what you think about all the time, in which case, I missed the whole point of the quote 😊.

🎡 For most of us, friendships are an important part of our life. Before my wife and I moved into our retirement center, our interactions with friends daily were very few. We had a few in our neighborhood but seldom visited their homes. After moving to our new home here in the retirement community, friends abound, and we have daily contact with many of them. This has made our life abundantly happier. Every study I have read stresses the importance of being social, interacting with others daily, and avoiding isolation. 

 Recently, I affectionally accused a good friend of becoming a hermit because we hadn’t seen her for several weeks. She wrote back, asking what my definition of a hermit was? I told her it was someone who stayed in their home, never venturing out to meet others 😊. Her reply convinced me she was still socially active and thus required an apology from me.

I believe it’s important to stress to friends and family the importance of daily contact with others. I see it all the time in our community, and I cannot overemphasize how important it is to be included in our daily routine. William Blake said, “The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.” Amen, brother Blake, amen.

🎡 A few weeks ago, after an ultrasound, I was told that my right carotid artery was 80-90% clogged. My family doctor sent me to see a neurologist (brain). He informed me I had nothing to worry about, stressing there are plenty of other ways for blood to get to my brain. Later, I had an appointment with a cardiovascular surgeon, who advised me I didn’t need surgery. So far, two ultrasound technicians have told me my situation was critical, and three doctors have suggested no surgery. Naturally, I will do what the docs say, but it would be much simpler if everyone agreed. The surgeon said there was a 2% chance of a stroke within five years without surgery and a 1.5% chance after surgery. That seems like a simple decision for me. As William Inge said, “Worry is interest paid on trouble before it falls due.”

🎡 I visited a website recently that asked me to put in my birthdate, I did, and it told me that I was older than 98% of the eight billion people on this planet. That was sobering! I knew that being eighty-one, I was older than a lot of people, but being in the top 2%? That bothered me until I realized the alternative (dying) wasn’t a superb option. 

I realize that living a long, healthy life is a blessing and that I shouldn’t be troubled by the passing of so many years. I still have my health, life is full of family and friends, and joy abounds everywhere. If there’s any sadness, it’s in knowing that life isn’t filled with unlimited days, and the limited number is getting closer and closer to the horizon. 

I remember when my daughter was about five years old, and we were on a trip to visit my parents (about 10 hours away), she would constantly ask me, “How much farther, daddy?” Today, I’m guilty of asking The Lord, “How much longer, Lord?” He has steadfastly refused to reveal that number 😊.

I have accepted that the more wrinkles that mock me in the mirror, the more I think about the past. They seem to appear overnight, when just the day before, there wasn’t a hint of the one that just appeared. I’m reminded of an advertisement all of us have seen on TV, with an old guy and his wife standing in front of a barn. He’s wearing bib overalls, has a pitchfork in one hand, and both of them have a plaintive look on their faces. I’m probably that guy without the overalls. My wife is not that gal 😊.

🎡 My youngest granddaughter and her husband (Chelsea/Jake) visited us last week, and it was a joy to have them with us. It was a very active week, but we enjoyed our time together.

We chose one day to take a trip across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (17.5 miles) and traveled up the eastern shore to Chincoteague Island. On another day, we visited our national capital (Washington, DC), but their favorite hangout was playing in the Atlantic Ocean at Virginia Beach. 

It was so much fun watching two young people suck in so much of life’s joy. We spent quite a few nights talking until midnight about the day’s activities and their plans for the future. I can remember being their age, I just don’t remember having that much fun 😊. They left with the promise they would be back before long. I followed their 14-hour journey home to Tennessee the next day, realizing they were getting farther and farther away. They stopped near Roanoke, VA, and got gas for $3.92/gallon. That brought a smile to my face. Gasoline here has been up to $5.08/gallon recently. 

I have three granddaughters and two grandsons (bonus), which all bring us joy. The one we see the most (Brandon) lives 20 minutes away, and he visits us often. The other grandson (Chris) lives in California, and we are lucky to see him once a year. Brandon maintains my website (www.tommyhale.net), so we are in frequent contact with each other. The thought has crossed my mind that our grandchildren are tiring of their needy grandparents 😊.

“We are not children twice, as the saying is, but forever; The difference is that we play bigger games.” ~ Seneca the Younger   


Slow To Anger


🎡 I have always been slow to anger, and that is a trait we should all aspire to have. I have concluded that anger is addictive, and the more we allow it to the surface, the more addictive it becomes. Some refuse to express disagreement unless angered, and then it spills out like dirty water from a stopped-up rain drain. I’m probably one of those people, and I dislike myself. My new friend (Jerry) has the unique ability to express disagreement without being angry. It stays inside and, like water, with me, slowly raises to a boil. Then, the dam bursts, and everything gets swept away by the steam roiling from my nose and ears. Usually, when that happens, my wife has a shocked look and heads to the room farthest from where I am. Eventually, I realize how badly I’ve behaved and try to calm down. My goal is to be the person who can manage anger, refuse to let it damage relationships, and realize that, even though anger can be a great motivator, it can be very destructive. I am reminded of this quote by John Lennon: “Part of me suspects that I’m a loser, and the other part of me thinks I’m God Almighty.” That probably applies to me when I’m in a state of anger 😊.

🎡 A few weeks ago, my wife and I drove out to western Tennessee to attend my oldest great-granddaughter’s high school graduation ceremonies. It had been three years since our last visit because of Covid-19, and I was concerned that my driving skills had eroded (I was 78 years old on our last trip). Fortunately, as we drove almost 2,200 miles, I noticed no decline. As I continue my progression towards ninety, that will certainly occur. I hope my wife, or I notice the decline before it compromises our safety. My plan is to buy a vehicle that drives itself within a few years, removing the possibility of me making a crucial mistake that could harm us or someone else. My wife is reluctant to take the chance, but tests show they are much safer (7 times) than cars driven by humans, and that should be even more true as time progresses. I remember driving down one of our local streets back when I was in my thirties, and the car in front of me was just creeping along. And as I passed him, I could tell he was in his eighties, just tall enough to see the road through the steering wheel. I remember thinking that he was too old to be driving. Now, I’m getting close to being that guy 😊. Of course, all of us don’t age at the same rate. Many of us are fortunate enough to keep our sight, hearing, and flexibility; others are not so fortunate. I am blessed by not spending one night in a hospital. I know that can change, but I also need to be aware of it as a blessing. Socrates said so eloquently, “The only good is knowledge, and the only evil is ignorance.” I do not want to be evil.

🎡 Our friends (Richard & Nancy) recently gave us a box full of CDs. There are approximately one hundred of them, and I have been slowly going through the box, listening to each CD, and then copying it to my music library if it was one that I enjoyed. They recently needed to downsize their collection of “stuff” because they moved into our retirement center, hence my reason for having their music collection. I predict I will keep about a third of their collection and give the rest to our local thrift store for someone else to enjoy. I entertained the thought of how many of my CDs they would keep if I put them all in a box? The vast majority of my music is Country, and I have yet to find a single Country album in their collection, so I’m guessing they would not keep many. This confirms my conclusion that none of us pick our friends based on musical taste. I have a few friends that enjoy Country music, and we often attend concerts together.

Back in the nineties, someone gave my wife and me free tickets to a “Soul” concert at the local Coliseum. I was miserable for the entire show, not seeing one act that I enjoyed. People that like that type of music would probably avoid hillbilly music. I do not want to be critical of “Soul” music; it’s just not something I enjoy. I enjoy many types of music, but Soul and Rap have failed to capture my attention. I’m inclined to think it’s a generational thing. “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.” ~ William Shakespeare. Yeah, that’s probably me 😊.

🎡 I have a new friend in our retirement community (Mary/Mike) that recently celebrated her birthday with her twin brother. They were born and raised in Canada. Her brother is wealthy, so he had a private plane fly down from Canada to Virginia, get her and her husband, and fly them back to Canada for a big celebration. A chauffeured car picked them up at the airport and whisked them off to a hotel. They stayed in the hotel’s best room and had plenty of fun. As Mary told us her story, I could sense the pride she had in her brother, that he had succeeded far past their expectations. Our H.S. class of 1959 had a member that far exceeded our expectations. Jimmy is living the good life, and not one member of our class begrudges his success. He has been kind to us, his classmates, by hosting our reunions at his home and in the pavilion on his golf course, never charging us a cent. The odd thing is that we have classmates who became doctors, teachers, and school principals, and yet, Jimmy is perhaps the most revered among us. He was a good friend in high school, and I remember taking him to pick up a brand-new school bus when he became a school bus driver. I think he was making about $250/month, which was a lot back then. I should not have been surprised by his success; he was always looking for ways to make money as a youngster.

I believe the point I’m trying to make is that people that have reached the top tier in society still care about others, still want to be treated as ordinary people, and are willing to go out of their way to be kind to others, especially those they care about. We all have seen influential people in the media being obstinate. Here, we have an example of two powerful people that are kind and generous to a fault. I believe this is true: “If you can’t see anything beautiful about yourself, get a better mirror.” …Shane Koyczan      

I believe both Jimmy, & Mary’s brother, do not need a better mirror.  


Will You Remember Me?


🎡 “Have I done anything to make people remember that I ever lived?” Old Able uttered that line to a lawyer friend upon his inquiry on whether Abe intended to commit suicide. He intended to convey to his friend that he did not want to leave this world without having done something to be remembered by. Of course, we know how that turned out. I would guess that many of us consider George Washington the best president we’ve had, and Abe would be number two. Perhaps some people in the deep south would disagree, but historians in 2021 ranked the top three presidents: 1. Abraham Lincoln (897 points), 2. George Washington (851), and 3. Franklin Roosevelt (841). The bottom four: Donald Trump, Franklin Pierce, Andrew Johnson, and last was James Buchanan. The only president with his coffin draped with a Confederate flag was John Tyler.

Sorry, I veered off course, but the idea I was exploring is that most of us want to be remembered for something meaningful instead of only being memories in the minds of those who loved us. In my defense, I spent a lot of time earning a living, raising two kids, and ensuring the people I loved had what they needed and some of what they wanted. I wonder if Thomas Edison, Ben Franklin, and all the other great people in our past could become famous now? Of course, they could! There will be things that need to be invented or accomplished until the end of time. Most of us have done unique things in our lifetime, just not anything that would make us famous. 

During our time on this precious planet, I think our goal should always be to strive to do what is right, be generous and kind to others, and see the joys often hidden away in small pockets.

 A few days ago, my daughter fell down the stairs of her townhouse and broke several bones, including her pelvis. As she and I discussed her injuries in the hospital, she said to me, “Daddy, you know I have been blessed in this tragedy!” The blank look on my face revealed that I didn’t understand what she meant. She continued, “You realize that I could have broken my neck and been paralyzed from the neck down to my toes?” She had seen what I had failed to see: she was suffering from wounds that would heal, but it could have been from injuries that remain forever, like paralysis. 

Most of us will indeed cross “The Bridge of Tears” without accomplishing anything that will make people remember we ever lived. Scientists have discovered that our minds are active for about four minutes after we stop breathing. They think we will remember our lives and reconcile whether we did anything worth remembering during that time. I’m more inclined to believe that I’ll be thinking about the loved ones I’m leaving behind, especially the ones that need me. I believe in what Robert A. Heinlein said, “Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.” I have found that to be profoundly true.

🎡 Many of us know aggressively friendly people. Some say the average person can have about 150 friends at once (I don’t 😊), and friends are defined as people you are comfortable around. My wife is one of those people. Several of our friends (Mary Webb, Mary Beth, & Jane S) are also. 

In her book “Aggressively Friendly,” Robin Dunbar says we have around fifteen close friends, people you go out to dinner with or are everyday social companions. Within that group, five are your most intimate friends. These are people who will give you emotional, physical, and financial help in your time of need. These friends typically share many traits you have in common, i.e., musical taste, love of sports, political opinions, worldviews, and a sense of humor.

When you meet new people, you get to know them, and then you figure out which circle they belong in or decide if you want them as a friend at all. Some say that it takes about 45 hours of being present in another person’s company to move from acquaintance to friend. To move from casual friend to meaningful friend takes another 50 hours, and then to an intimate friend takes another one hundred hours. 

We devote 8 ½ hours per month to our five closest friends and about 2 hours to the next ten in our fifteen-person circle. We give less than twenty minutes each month to the rest of our 135 friends. 

Since moving into our retirement community, my wife and I have made many friends, but I seriously doubt we have 150. And I was unaware of the process quoted above. It all makes sense, but do we really go through something similar when choosing our friends? We all know, of course, that none of that applies to family. The family has a “free pass” in being part of our life. I do have family members that I’m closer to than others. Still, they are all welcomed as members of my family circle. 

Zelda Fitzgerald said, “Nobody has measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.” I have room for 150 friends in my heart, but I doubt anywhere close to that many people want me as a friend 😊.

🎡 At the top of the list, the most commonly used word is “the.” Others like “and,” “that,” and “but” are scattered thru the rest of the list. The most written noun is “time,” verb,” be,” and the adjective is “good.” 

I seldom think of how much I use those words. Each day, as I prepare to scribble my thoughts, I try carefully to articulate them in a fashion that chases boredom into another room, afraid to emerge until I’m finished. To aid me in that endeavor, I use several pieces of software, and my most trusted proofreader is my wife. As she and I were exiting the side garage door, headed to the dining room in our retirement village, our next-door neighbor (Jack) stopped me and said that he enjoyed my missives and wondered how I took the mundane and made it enjoyable. He remarked that I was a talented writer. My good friend is unaware that I get a lot of help. I wrote my first thoughts on a blog website way back in 1998. I am not sure what it was about, but I have written for 24 years. My website (www.tommyhale.com) has my missives back to 2007. My original intent was to write for my family. Still, it has grown into much more than that, and I have readers scattered worldwide. For an old hillbilly from Grundy (VA), that makes me feel good. As a high school literature student in Ms. Simpson’s class, I remember trying to express my thoughts on paper. The best grade I could get was a “B.” She was always trying to motivate me to do better. She and my mother were good friends, so I knew she was sincere in her attempts to get me to do better. Several of her students are published, authors. She loved Shakespeare and insisted that we all take turns reading a page from his plays. I distinctly remember my fears growing as the reading responsibility moved student by student in my direction. My fear of speaking in public chased me for many years until my position in the company I worked for forced me to teach a class every week for several months. Slowly, I came to realize that overcoming that fear only required repetition. I later learned that the fear would return if you go a long period without doing it. Like anything else you do well, you have to do it often. 

Mary Sarton said, “We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.” That is what we all should strive to be….Tommy


Guest Blog

    No posts found in this category