Orange Juice


   My wife hands me a 5 oz. glass of orange juice to drink every morning, which I dutifully down in a few gulps.  She believes that if I do certain things (drink orange juice, take OTC pills, etc.) I will live a longer, healthier life, and I love her for these efforts because I want to live a longer, healthier life.  As she handed me the glass of orange juice this morning, I remarked that I cannot remember drinking it as a young boy.  I’m sure we had it, but rarely.  The beverages in our “Frigidaire” would normally be water, sweet milk, buttermilk, and Kool-Aid.  I was probably 8 or 9 years old when we got our first refrigerator.  To the best of my knowledge, there were two brands—Frigidaire and Kelvinator—but regardless of the brand, all refrigerators back then were called “Frigidaires”.  Today, we mostly say “Fridge”.  Before we got our first one, I remember seeing the ice truck deliver large chunks of ice to our neighbors to be used in their “icebox”.  Our lives changed when our family got our first “Frigidaire”.  No longer did we need to store our butter and milk in the small “Spring House” (cold water came from deep inside the mountain).  I remember sitting in the kitchen and hearing the sweet hum of that treasured appliance, knowing that it was keeping our food and drinks safe and providing us with cool, cold liquids during the sultry summer heat we had to endure.  Today, we mostly take the Fridge for granted until a power outage, otherwise it sits underappreciated in our kitchen.  Reminds me of an old Estonian Proverb: “He who does not thank for little, will not thank for much.”  I don’t think it describes us, do you?       

⌘   I read an article recently that said you could predict whether someone was going to have a stroke within their lifetime by looking at their earlobes to detect any 45° lines, which meant that it would happen.  Up I jumped and headed for the bathroom to grab a mirror to see if I had any.  Sure ‘nuff, there it was on my left earlobe, plain as day.  I’m a fairly healthy guy, but now I’m a little worried.  I’m figuring that, at age 79, I may have ten more good years left and this earlobe thing has thrown me a curve ball.  I was expecting to throw a “ringer”, but I threw a “leaner” instead.  We all know what that means in the game of horseshoes; the next pitch is going to be aimed straight at that “leaner” and then it’s gonna  become just another shoe that may or may not be closer to the peg.  I had waddled down the hallway believing both my earlobes were line free (ringer) and wound up with a line on one ear (leaner).  My fear is that the next shoe that’s gonna knock down that “leaner” is gonna be the stroke the article predicted.  But after giving it some more thought, I reasoned that my health is good, which was reaffirmed by a recent echocardiogram, so I shouldn’t worry too much.  If I was going to have a stroke of some sort, I believe it would be a “stroke of good luck,” which we could all use. 😊

Personally, I prefer what old John Dewey said long ago: “Luck, bad if not good, will always be with us.  But it has a way of favoring the intelligent and showing its back to the stupid.”  Now, all I gotta do is figure out which group I’m in. 😊

⌘   I was watching a former CIA analyst give a motivational speech online the other day.  There was a section of her presentation where she described ways to spot when someone is lying.  Her message was that the average person lies at least 10 times a day, speaks at 150 words per minute, and thinks 10 times faster than they speak.  She believes that you will give the first clue that you’re lying within 1 minute, the second clue within 5 minutes, and you only need 2 clues to know for certain someone is lying.  She reminded us to always remember that saying you wouldn’t do something is not the same as saying you didn’t do it.  She told us to watch hands and feet, because when someone tells a lie, they tend to make nervous movements with their extremities, even if only a twitch.

I am taken aback that we lie, on average, ten times a day.  Most of these lies are innocuous, such as, “You look good today,” or “Glad to see you.”  I believe most of us consider a lie to be deceitful, hurtful, or mean-spirited.  I was unaware that when I complimented a friend’s golfing tie, I was being anything more than pleasant, even though I was thinking I would never wear it to church.  And the part about thinking 10 times faster than you speak?  Well, I know several people who have a hard time keeping up with their own tongues (no, my friend, you’re not one of them 😊).  In retrospect, I regret watching that video because I’m gonna have to make a conscious effort not to look for those things during my conversations.  An old Czech Proverb says it exactly the way I feel: “Better a lie that heals than a truth that wounds.” 

⌘ Did you know that your little finger provides over half of the strength in your hand?  I didn’t, and I’m guessing you were unaware of that insignificant fact as well.  There have been many times that my wife has handed me a bottle to open, and I go through a routine where I flex my muscles, groan a little as I turn the lid, and finally pop the top open—all meant to bring a smile to her face.  I always assumed that my grip came from all my fingers somewhat equally, with the little finger being perhaps the weakest.  Now I know that the little digit is as strong as all the others combined. 

I think we see this assumption of small being weak many times in our lives.  Some of the meanest, toughest people I have known were small in stature.  My brother (Jerry) was 5’7” tall, but no matter how many times you knocked him down, he would get right back up and continue the fight.  I always respected him for that.  Sometimes I thought it was stupid, but deep down I admired his toughness.  I had a high school classmate we nicknamed “Bear” who was about 5’8” and weighed about 180 lbs., but no one ever crossed him.  He was an even-tempered guy, but he was as strong as an ox.  Matter of fact, I visited with him at our high school reunion a few years ago.  

I believe there are primarily two types of strength, physical and character, and while both are important in our lives, strength of character is the most important.  When we cannot do the right thing, it’s because we are weak in character.  We fail to speak up because we fear hurting someone’s feelings.  We will not help the people in our lives who need our support because we don’t want to become “enablers”.  In truth, people of strong character find reasons to help, not excuses for not helping.  I think our goal as decent people has to be finding a way to become the compassionate, caring, and kind people we have always wanted to be.  And I also believe that it is always a work in progress. 

Lillian Hellman said it very well: “It is not good to see people who have been pretending strength all their lives…lose it even for a minute.”  Ouch, that hurt! 😊

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