Category: 2019

Work Ethic

I read recently that two-thirds of all parents in the United States give their children a weekly allowance of $30.  I was taken aback by that knowledge, wondering how you could justify giving a child that much.  It’s not that I begrudge them having that money, but it’s the fact they probably did nothing to earn it.

I remember when I started giving my two children an allowance.  They were 8-10 years old and their mother came to me one day and said, “We need to start giving the kids an allowance”.  I agreed but thought they should earn it.  They were wonderful children, but I was sure handing them unearned money would not build good character.

So, we sat down with them one day and told them our plan:  They would get a weekly allowance of $2 (equivalent to $14 today), but they had to make their bed every morning before school, take out the trash after breakfast and scoop up the dog poop in the yard upon returning home from school. If any of their school report cards showed a grade below “C” their allowance would stop immediately and only resume after the next report card showed “C” or better. 

That plan worked well, tho my daughter grumbled a lot about the “dog poop” thing.  Seems her friends in the neighborhood would come by our house and make fun of her as she dutifully scooped up after our beloved dog. 

I think the important thing both learned was that everything in life must be earned and that includes love, friendship, and success.  What message are we sending to our children when we give them a weekly allowance with no expectations?

My best friend in high school became a billionaire.  His parents were not poor, but they insisted he earn his money.  He sold newspapers, cut grass, and drove a school bus.  In college, he busted tables and paid his own way.  Would he have succeeded had his parents not insisted he work?  Maybe, but I think it played a big role in his success.  We still see each other at high school reunions and he’s still the same old fellow I enjoyed being around as a kid.  I can’t say for sure, but I’ll bet he did the same with his children. 

I recall telling a co-worker back in the ‘70’s about my son’s successful athletic exploits and he looked me in the eyes and said plaintively, “But have you taught him how to make money?”  The answer to that, unknown to me at the time, was yes.  My son went on to be very successful in his career.  I prefer to think it’s because he started early in life earning his way.

Suze Orman said, “The key to making money is to stay invested”.  Now that’s a horse we should all be riding!   

   🏈My wife and I were returning from a trip to visit our grand kids in Tennessee a few weeks ago, and we stopped at a rest stop to use the facilities and walk around the campus for about 10 minutes.  As we returned to our truck, a young man, looking to be in his late 20s, approached us and asked for help. 

He had, according to him, $23.50 and needed $20 more to get him, his wife, and daughter, to their destination in Arkansas.  His eyes were filled with tears as he recalled serving in Iraq and Pakistan and being unable to find a job upon his return home.  The AC in his truck had ceased to work and his wife & child were suffering immensely.  He informed me that he had contemplated giving me his wedding ring if I would help.  He, of course, knew that no one would take it. 

I was concerned by the constant flow of tears that found their way down his cheeks and dropped painfully on the pavement.  I decided to help him, but I had one condition: take me to meet your family.  He stuttered and said, “They’re in the truck over on the other side (where large trucks park), and I really don’t want my wife to know that I’m out here begging for help”. 

I replied again that I would help him, but he had to take me to meet his family.  He said he couldn’t do that, it would upset his wife and he would feel so ashamed to admit to her how bad the situation was.  I then said very bluntly that I could not help him if he was unwilling to abide my request.  He said he understood and walked away.  We left the Rest Area feeling confident that we did the right thing, but I was a little embarrassed about how easily I was seduced into believing that young man’s story.  

I have forgiven that young man for his deceit but as Ken Hubbard said, “No one ever forgets where he buried the hatchet”.  I’m hoping I don’t retrieve that hatchet with my next encounter with someone down and out on their luck.

 🏈“Thank You”.  How often do you hear someone say that after you have helped them in some way?  Maybe you sent them a gift for a special day, or it could have been for no reason other than you wanted to bring a smile to their face.  Maybe, they were in a bind and you helped as much as you could? 

I think we have all been guilty of not saying, “Thank You”, as often as we should, and we tend to put the blame on a younger generation.  I can remember as a young boy not saying it very much and my mother’s condemnation after each failure to do so. 

As I grew older, I became aware of the importance of thanking someone that lent a hand, gave me a gift, or just showed me kindness when I needed it.  As a Christian, I constantly thank God for his many kindnesses to me, but I do know that I should thank each person that does that as well.  Newly weds often receive many gifts, and it is vitally important they respond to each gift given.  Parents should teach their children to always respond to people that shower them with love, affection, and gifts.

We have all heard that “It is better to give than to receive” and that may very well be true, but I also believe that statement should be expanded to include, “but the receiver should always say thank you”.  I think that helps build good character.

Good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient effort is needed to develop good character.” – Heraclitus

Assumed & Expectation

Every morning I get up and amble down to the stable and mount one of two of my favorite horses.  I mostly like to ride the one named “Assumed”, but I also enjoy riding “Expectation”.  Both are strong and fast and can carry me until the sun goes down.  They have served me well during my lifetime, even though I have been advised several times not to rely too much on them.  As I have aged so have they, and it’s not a pretty sight.  Several times lately both of those fine stallions have let me down. 

I “Assumed” my life would continue happily along as I got older and that everything would remain good.  Well, that horse has started to falter somewhat.  I “Assumed” my children would be here to bid me farewell when my time came to exit this life. That did not hold true since my son passed away last year.  I “Assumed” the ones I love would continue in good health, yet a lot of them are struggling with various maladies.  It reminds me of seeing pictures of a wildfire that burns every home in sight except one and it is left untouched.  I’ve pretty much concluded that my turn is coming sooner or later.  I’m just standing in line, waiting for my turn at the old “Fight for Your Life” treadmill.

“Expectation” isn’t fairing much better, and as a matter of fact, he has lost a lot of stamina and gusto.  It’s becoming increasingly difficult to get him out of the stall and ready for the day’s ride.  Things that “Expectation” used to do well, he falters and sometimes fails.  I was always able to climb the ladder to our roof and blow off pine straw, sticks, and gumballs.  Now it is a risky thing for me to do.  I was always able to prepare the yard for seeding in the fall, doing the necessary thatching, aerating, and fertilizing in one fell swoop.  Nowadays, it takes several days for “Expectation” to amass enough energy for all those chores. 

So, I’m heading in the direction of retiring those two trusty steeds.  They have served me well, but all good things come to an end.  The rock I’ve been pushing all my adult life just seems to be getting heavier and I need to switch to a smaller rock.  Rabindranath Tagore said, “You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.”  I agree with him but maybe, you get to a point where you have no desire to cross the sea?

Recently I decided it was time for me to replace my 10-year-old desktop computer.  That is a lot of years for a computer, considering all the improvements they make in just one year.

I gave a lot of thought to what I was willing to pay and exactly what I wanted to include in my new machine.  The primary parts of a computer are:  Motherboard (communication center for everything attached to it); CPU (central processing unit- the brains for the whole shebang); Video card (displays what you want to see on your screen); Primary hard-drive (stores the system files necessary for the computer to run and personal files for future use).

Of course, there are a lot of other things that are important, but these are the most important things, and the most expensive.  After deciding on what I wanted included in this modern marvel, I needed to find someone to put it all together and tell me how much it would cost.  Well, there are plenty of businesses on the internet that will do that but the price they charge to buy and assemble it for you can vary widely. 

Ultimately, I narrowed the 8 potential companies down to two and then down to one.  The one I selected (Digital Storm) gave me a price well below the others and then gave me a $500 discount.  A rather large grin spread across my face when I saw that discount, but it turned to a frown when I was told it would cost $400 to send it to my home by freight (it weighs 70-90 lbs).  I was also informed it would take about 3 weeks for them to assemble, test, and it and get it to me. 

So here I am, waiting for my prized possession to arrive, and thinking of how much better my life will be once I have it in place and operational.  I’m thinking that not too many people my age get that excited about something like that.  We mostly get excited when we are going on a trip, buying a new car, or expecting family in for a visit.  I will let you know how this turns out after it arrives, and I’ve had the chance to use it for a while. 

Albert Einstein said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle,”.  I’m going with the “Everything is a Miracle,” thingy 😊.

Update1:  My new PC arrived today (8/27) and I’m in the process of unpacking it.  Excitement is in every corner of this room that occupies a lot of my life!

Update2:  I finally finished installing all my software (9/10) and my new PC is working perfectly.  That darn thing is so smart that I have decided to call it “Einstein”.  

Marcel Proust said, The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”   Einstein just gave me a new set of eyes 😊.

James Elroy (author) stated recently that he reads 19 books every six months, or 38 every year.  I was impressed!  I thought to myself, that is a lot of books to read in a year.  Then another thought crossed my mind, how many audio books do I listen to each year?  That was an easy problem to solve because I keep a database of all the books I’ve listened to in of software I purchased years ago titled “AllMyBooks”. 

It immediately revealed that in the last ten years I have listened to 583 books.  That’s 58 books every year, quite a bit better than old James.  I told some close friends about that discovery and was disappointed to intuit by their actions that listening wasn’t the same as reading.  I agree that it takes more effort to read than to listen, but I’m of the opinion that the reader is doing only one thing, whereas the listener can do other things while listening.  True, I find myself unable to do work that requires focus, but I can mow the yard, pick up yard debris, drive, and various other activities, all while listening to a good book, be it fiction or non-fiction.  I do try to rotate between the two, although I must confess that I enjoy non-fiction best. 

I also read a couple of months ago that more audio books were being sold yearly then printed versions.  I know many people that prefer print because they like the feel of a book in their hands.  Abraham Lincoln’s dad once told him, “Readers are loafers”.  I’m left to wonder how any parent would say that to their children.  I read a lot, but it’s mostly articles online, or in magazines. 

I am reminded of a personal experience in 1971.  I was working in the Payroll Department at my place of employment and I had purchased a hand-held calculator from Sears to use at work at a cost of $100 ($700 in today’s money).  This was when small calculators first hit the market. Our primary means of calculating an employee pay was manual, using pencil and paper and, as you can imagine, mistakes were common.

My first day on the job with my spankin’ new calculator brought me much joy.  Co-workers gathered around to watch me work my magic with that little thing.  Amazement filled their eyes. Finally, my boss walked over and said, “Tommy, you aren’t going to use that to calculate pay are you?”  I replied, “Yup, that’s my intent and you can check my calculations if you want.”  He walked away with a dubious smile on his face.

As we all know, computers (calculators) are everywhere and used by almost everyone today.  I believe some people accept change easily and others not so much.  I believe by 2030 (11 years) audio books will comprise 90% of our books and publishing companies, as we know them now, will be extinct or very rare.  I wonder if ole Abe’s father would’ve entertained the idea of listening to an audio book as he plowed his fields? 😊

 The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” – Saint Augustine  

I hope that as the sun rises in your neighborhood you look at it with new eyes and plan a day filled with happiness.  I intend to do the same…..Tommy

Friendships Are Necessary For A Good Life

Recently, my wife and I paid a visit to our former church pastor (Jim) and his wife (Phyllis), both who are dealing with cancer. He retired to devote his energy to fighting that terrible disease, and it has taken its toll on his health. He briefly walked us thru the treatments he was taking and the current status of his health. Then, we moved on to other things, and I could tell he did not want us to spend our visit just talking about his health. He has lost a lot of weight and has very little energy, but he tried gallantly to be a good host.
Occasionally, you meet someone who has a natural talent for talking, never at a loss for words, and confident in carrying a conversation squarely on their own shoulders. It is always a delight for me to meet someone like that. Oftentimes, it is a struggle to keep a friendly conversation moving along, but with someone like Pastor Jim, that is never a problem. He possess a sincerity in his eyes that few have and you never doubt what he tells you. We left their home that afternoon feeling that we had brought a little happiness into a home that was, perhaps, filled with the struggle of fighting a fierce battle. A temporary distraction of sorts, something we all need in stressful situations. I have given thought to why God would let that happen to someone that has devoted their life to serving him? I concluded that he never promised that we would be free of life’s problems, just that he would be there to help us thru those tribulations. Seth Godin said, “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, you ought to set up a life you don’t need to escape from”. Seth, sometimes that bar is a little too high.

A professor did a small experiment with his students.
First, he asked them to read a paragraph about a certain subject and timed how long it took them to finish reading it. The paragraph was deliberately written poorly.
Then he presented a second paragraph on the same subject, one written well, and asked them to do the same. When they finished, he asked them to compare the amount of information in both paragraphs and the time it took them to read each.

This experiment taught his students that it can take up to twice as long to read a badly written text that includes the same amount of information.
Looking back on my high school and college English classes, I realized that my teachers were trying to convey that same idea to me. I remember all of them stressing how important it was to express yourself, in writing and speech, in a manner grammatically correct and simple.
I read a lot, and I’m constantly having to look up words the authors use that I’m not familiar with. I don’t mind doing that occasionally, but I become somewhat annoyed if I must do it often. Here’s a good example: “Senescence comes with aches and pains, but it’s also a time to look back on your life.”
That word is defined as the aging process, or a cell’s loss of the ability to divide. So why not use “aging”?
A year ago, my PhD Candidate granddaughter sent me a thesis paper she had written on E-cigarettes. I expected to see a lot of scientific terms and words I did not know, and I was correct in that assumption. Her paper was written for a scientific community, and I knew that going in. I struggled thru and learned a lot, but it was hard reading. What I enjoyed the most was how well she presented her thoughts on the subject. That is one of the hardest things for me to do with my writings. Kelly Johnson, a lead engineer at the Lockheed Skunk Works in the 60s, is credited with saying, “Keep It Simple, Stupid”. I believe that should be the goal of every writer. I hope I have succeeded in doing that.

I would like to take you on a trip with me back to 1951 when I was a young lad 10 years old. The Artrup family, friends of our family in the coal camp I lived in, asked me to go with them to spend the weekend at a relative’s home about 3 hours away. Mom said “Yes”, and Dad said “No”. As with most families of that era, Dad’s word was final. He always wanted my brother and me in our own beds when darkness descended into our little corner of the world. I headed off to my bedroom and sat on the floor on the far side of my bed so no one could see me, and the tears started to flow. I desperately tried to stifle the sound because boys my age weren’t supposed to cry, but my heart was broken. Mom opened the door and came over to me, getting down on her knees and holding my face in her hands, she gently said, “I will talk to your Dad and see if I can change his mind.” Begrudgingly, he said “Yes”, but whenever he changed his mind about anything for my brother and me, it always had a big “BUT” added and it always included extra chores.
I cannot remember the chores he added, but early the next morning (Saturday) I was in the car with the Artrup family, and we were off to visit their dad’s sister. I lost track of time but eventually we pulled over to the side of the road and all of us got out (5 kids in the back seat). Mr. Artrup locked his car, and we started following a trail down the hill. There was not a home to be seen anywhere, but we kept walking for what seemed like several miles and finally I saw a big house with several barns and a large plot of land fenced in as a corral. In the barns were several horses. I loved to be around horses, and as soon as we got settled in, all 5 of us kids headed for the barns. I fondly remember Mr. Artrup’s sister placing each of us on the gentlest horse she had and walking along, holding the bridle, as we imagined ourselves as Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Johnny Mack Brown, or the Durango Kid. What a great memory!
The nearest highway was several miles away, and I have no idea how far away the closest house was to theirs. I don’t believe I have ever felt the remoteness that I felt that weekend. It was as if we were the only ones on the face of the earth. There were no other homes, nor cars, nor stores, the only thing available for our existence was within the confines of their homestead.
We left there late Sunday afternoon and drove home. All of us kids were sad that the weekend had ended. I told my Mother when we got home what a great time I had and she said, “Maybe you can go again sometime”. Sadly, that never happened. Within a few months, Mr. Artrup had a heart attack in the mines and passed away before my father (his boss) could do anything to help him. Since the homes in the coal camp were for active workers and their families, his family had to move away. I often wonder what happened to their kids (JC, Peggy, Joe, Brenda). Peggy was my 9-year-old brother’s girlfriend. She was bigger than he and was always beatin’ him up. I always smile when I think about them playing together and how she always won their arguments, one way or the other ??.
I go back home every summer, and I always drive up to where that coal camp existed. Every board and nail have been removed, and the landscape has been changed, but I see it all so clearly. I see a 10-year-old boy with no idea what the rest of his life will entail. I want to reach out and tell him about the pitfalls he will encounter in the life ahead, but I know that kid’s only worry is about how many crawdads he would find under the rocks in the nearby stream so he could do some fishin’.

Our trip is over now, so you can go back to whatever you were doing when I invited you along. I hope you enjoyed reading my story as much as I enjoyed remembering it.
Salvador Dali said, “There are some days when I think I’m going to die from an overdose of satisfaction”. I have some days like that, and I’ll bet you do too ??.

My Life & Sliced Bread

I sometimes imagine my life as a loaf of sliced bread.  Looking down on that loaf, I pull up the slice at the far end and there I am, 10 years old and squabbling with my younger brother over who’s washing or drying the dishes after dinner (drying was the easiest).

 I gently place the slice back in its place and jump forward a few slices and there I am, 20 something years old with a wife and two young children (boy & girl), I am on the patio of our home, laying on a blanket as my 1-year-old daughter sits on my chest playing with her daddy’s long nose.  My three-year-old son is in the background playing with a small, metal Tonka dump truck. 

I place that slice back in its slot and jump forward a few more slices and pull one out and there I am, fifty something, divorced, and looking distraught and confused.  I remember that guy and what he was going thru and I kinda feel sorry for him. 

Quickly, I return that slice to the empty spot and moved towards the front of the loaf and retrieve another, and there I am, happily re-married and living a good and satisfying life. 

I glance down at the loaf and see quite a few slices left, and yet, I’m holding the slice that is my current life! 

I must admit I was tempted to return that slice and pick up the ones that would tell me what was yet to come.  As my hand nervously reached for the next slice of bread, I drew it back, knowing that I should never see what was in my future.

I believe that most of us worry about things that will never happen, but because of insecurities, we are pessimistic and are always waiting for something bad to happen.  I am confident that if I retrieved that last piece of bread and it revealed my end-of-life struggle, I would spend my remaining days on this wonderful planet worried about it. 

Having the will to resist that temptation brought a smile to my face as I slowly inched the loaf back into the cupboard, vowing that I would never be tempted to revisit that decision. 

John Green said, “One day, you’re 17 and you’re planning for someday. And then quietly, without you ever really noticing, someday is today. And then someday is yesterday. And this is your life,”.  That describes my life very well!

The custom of giving a woman an engagement ring began in 1200AD, when medieval Italians believed diamonds were created in the Flames of Love.  That custom has continued and flourished over time, and now men go to elaborate lengths to make their proposal unique.  Planes write it in the sky, men get down on one knee onstage at concerts, ice skating rinks and many other odd and interesting places. 

When I proposed to my wife, I had the waiter, in a nice restaurant, drop her ring in a glass of Champagne and serve it to her while we sat across from her mother and father.  I was fearful that she may swallow it but that fine beverage is for sipping and I was confident she would discover it easily.  Still, there was some concern on my part. 

To my knowledge, I know of no one that was spurned when the question was popped, but I am confident it has happened.  I think we should use the same theory a courtroom lawyer uses, “Don’t ask a question if you don’t already know the answer”. 

Everyone loves a good wedding and thousands of dollars are spent on that festive occasion and yet, half of all marriages end in divorce.  That’s sorta like buying a car and there’s a 50% chance it will fail you before the warranty expires. 

So, what’s the solution to this dilemma?  First, the courtship should last at least two years and second, never spend more than one month’s salary on the wedding.  If a Dad is paying, it’s just as important.  My wife and I were invited to a wedding, and we barely knew the couple, but they wanted a lot of people there (Dad was paying), so we went.  I was so uncomfortable and resolved never to do that again.

I think marriage is a wonderful thing.  Nothing seems more special than seeing a couple wrapped-up in the excitement of each other.  In my view, to make a marriage last, you need to approach it with the idea that there are two people in the boat, and both need to be rowing.  If only one rows, trouble is not too far away.

“Love makes life meaningful and the world more beautiful; if it makes your life more miserable, then it isn’t love,”…. Peter Saysomphane

Scientists note that employees should keep working until the age of 80, but that they should only work 25 hours a week to be productive.  I believe it’s an excellent plan.  That means our children would only go to school 3 days a week, the grocery stores would only open that many days (I don’t think they would double their staff and leave prices the same), and hospitals would only work 3 days. 

Our lives would change dramatically.  Many years ago, my state (Virginia) had the “Sunday Blue Law”, and only a few business’ could open on that day.  In addition, you couldn’t purchase alcohol on that day.  Just about everyone I knew disliked that law.  I think the alcohol thing had a lot to do with it 😊.

I have a close relative that only works 3 days each week, and she is a very happy person.  So, yea, it might be a good idea to work that long each week and continue until you’re 80.  I don’t know the logistics of that yet. The average age of death in the USA is 79, meaning that half of us pass on before that age and a half afterwards.  But it means you can enjoy part of your retirement before you die.  Three days on and four days off each week sorta has a nice ring to it. 

Would it make us a lazier society?  There is that possibility.  I think we would be happier, given the extra time to pursue our personal goals and spend more time with those we love.  Instead of working more than 97,000 hours in our lifetime, we would work slightly over 80,000.  I would never have guessed that working two days less each week would result in saving 17,000 working hours in my lifetime.

If that plan had been put in place back when George Washington was our president, how would our lives had been changed?  Probably a lot of the inventions we enjoy so much today wouldn’t exist.  I do know that when I have a serious problem to resolve, if I pursue it long enough, I will almost always find the solution.  If I took four days off, I would never get it solved. 

It takes about five hours for sunlight to reach Pluto. It takes eight minutes to reach Earth. It’s gonna take more than five hours for sunlight to reach my brain, allowing me to figure out if this thing could work.

 So, after all this discussion, am I for it or against it (shorter work week & working until age 80)?  Well, I don’t think it would work as well as I wanted it to, but I’m willing to give it a try 😊

T. S. Eliot said, “Only those who will risk going too far can find out how far one can possibly go,”.  Lots of truth in that quote.

Wherever you are in this world, I hope your family loves you as much as mine loves me.  I know you will return their love abundantly.  That is my intent as well.

Being Mortal

I recently finished reading “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande and found it quite interesting. The book’s main theme was how we deal with our own dying.  He thinks that most of us never think about our death until we feel it is about 10 years away.  I often joked that I thought “being old” was always ten years older than I was.  George Burns, who lived to the ripe old age of 100, said that he never bought bananas that were not ripe, nor ordered a 3-minute boiled egg.  

Mr. Gawande says our goal should be to have a good life and not worry about death.  He believes that life is a series of peaks and valleys and studies have shown that we remember only the peaks and whatever happens at the end.  The valleys? Not so much!  He talks about watching a football game (60 minutes) and your team dominates up until the last three minutes and then they lose the game.  Their fans leave the stadium disgusted, even though for 57 of those minutes their team dominated, and they were extremely happy.  They only remembered the last 3 minutes.  He goes on to say that life is not the average of our life experiences but the feelings of our experiences.  As we all know, story endings matter and we always want a happy ending.  We want our pain to be brief and our pleasure long lasting.  He believes that we have two parts within us:  The “Remembering Self” and the “Experiencing Self”.  the “Remembering Self” recalls the peaks and some valleys while the “Experiencing Self” is totally involved in the moment. 

As we grow older, I believe we become more of the “Remembering Self” and less of the “Experiencing Self”.  I find myself in that mode a lot at my age, and I am completely unaware when it started.  I realize it takes a lot of courage to stare down the muzzle of a gun, and it takes an equal amount of courage to face your eventual demise.  Courage is showing strength and resolve, knowing you are in imminent danger.   

Socrates said, “True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.”

About 24 million children in America, or 1 out of every 3, live in homes without a father.  That is disturbing.  As a young boy growing up in the “40’s & 50s, every family I knew had both parents.  Of course, there were a lot fewer people and the divorce rate was very small. 

I ran across the following article in a email I received from the “Morning Brew”:

                                 Earth’s Population

  • 50,000 B.C.E (before the common era for non-Christians): 2
  • 8,000 B.C.E., the dawn of agriculture: 5 million 
  • 1 C.E (common era).: 300 million
  • 1850: 1.3 billion
  • Today: 7.7 billion
  • 2050: 9.7 billion projected

Bottom line: More than 108 billion people have ever been born on this planet. The number of people alive right now represents roughly 7% of the total number of humans who have ever lived.

As we see, there are currently 7.7 billion of us and a lot has changed since those two people walked around at the beginning.  A lot of it was good and some of it not-so-much.  Especially, as it pertains to families.  A simple Google search reveals that in the USA at least 50% of families get divorced.  That is a staggering number!  Of course, I stand firmly in that statistic, having divorced after 32 years of marriage.  Fortunately, our two children were adults, but that still doesn’t eliminate the damage a divorce does to everyone involved.  Mom & Dad being together seems to be the glue that holds the universe together, and when their relationship crashes and burns, their children are left with a big hole in their heart that seems to never close.  I think that is true no matter their age. 

So, how can we improve that situation?  I believe that the reason marriages lasted longer 75 years ago is that more people belonged to a religion.  They concentrated more on obeying the laws of their religion and, as we all know, most religions specify fidelity in a marriage.  I do believe that if I had been more religious, I would have tried harder to make my marriage work. 

I also believe religion requires you to treat your spouse with kindness and respect, something that is missing in a lot of relationships.  Do I think that being religious would drop the 50% divorce rate to 25% or less?  It worked back then and there is no reason it cannot happen now.

When it comes to your children, parents mostly feel as Elizabeth Stone does: “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body,”.  

Therein lies the reason to make your marriage work.

I was watching the Chernobyl mini-series on HBO last week and was moved by it.  At the end someone said, “Every time you lie you incur a debt to the truth and sooner or later that debt has to be paid”.  I gave that some thought, and I completely agree with that idea.  It’s a perspective that we should adopt and instill in our children.  We were all raised to understand that lying was wrong, and we know that if we lie in court, we can be incarcerated, but we never assumed that lies accumulated and at some time in the future we had to suffer in some way for those lies.  We can all find situations where a “little white lie” seems to be necessary.  It may be that we do it to spare hurting someone’s feelings, or, we do it because we were asked a question that we did not want to answer truthfully and felt it necessary to tell a falsehood.  There are times when we “stretch” the truth in order to make the situation seem better than it was.  My ex-wife used to say that, “to deceive is worse than lying” whenever she detected that I wasn’t being completely honest with her.  My reasoning was that she couldn’t handle the truth and would become very upset.  Our two children always avoided telling her bad new because of her inability to handle it.  Maybe, we should have been truthful and accepted the consequences but all three of us chose to avoid that at all costs.  I think at some point, deceiving (lying) takes its toll on you and starts to chip away at your self-respect.  After we divorced, I vowed to never again be caught in that situation and my life has been much happier.  I also think God is much happier with me 😊.

Those who think it is permissible to tell white lies soon grow color-blind… Austin O’Malley

I hope that wherever you are on this wonderful planet of ours that you are loved by your friends and family as much as I am loved by mine.  May you always be treated with kindness and respond with humility…..Tommy

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