Observation

35. PLEASE STOP BY…..

open

Welcome!

I write a blog dedicated to the subject of ground-floor self-help topics. My introduction says a lot about where I come from and who I am. Further subjects address different areas of interest. I’m looking for new subscribers and will respond to all who care to leave a message.

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

33. “In the house…

“In the house that is LOVE, chiseled into the floor of the basement, is the word forgiveness.”

floor

I welcome you to visit my blog. Please follow me and feel free to comment as much as you would like, I will acknowledge all.

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

31. “We cannot be …

“We cannot be motivated to rise to greater heights without first exploring the depths of what must be avoided.”

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

28. A CHANGE OF PERSPECTIVE

Homeless person

I drive a lot these days and have since my early twenties. Some take the same familiar route daily while mine has always been all over the map. Years ago, in the early nineties, I drove from Port Angeles to Wenatchee, and from Olympia to Bellingham while living south of Seattle. From there I moved to Des Moines  and continued my travels in a larger  area that stretched from Kansas City to Lincoln to Cedar Rapids and sometimes beyond. Here in Denver I often commute up to one thousand miles in a week. While most of the country looks different wherever I go, some of the scenery sadly remains the same. It seems that no matter where I end up, there among the population is the face of our fellow man that suffers. Those in desperation eventually stand on the street corners of every city asking for a handout. They are more ignored than assisted, and they have lost the outlook that life is a gift, not a burden.

I must admit there was a time when I looked upon these “vagrants, bums, tramps, or beggars” with an attitude of indifference. I wished them no ill will, but I also felt there were places other than the local intersection that could be of benefit to someone with the fortitude to brave the elements and take an obvious daily dose of  verbal abuse. My thoughts would always go in the same direction, “If these people could just focus the same energy on a slightly different life, then abundance would be forthcoming in ways they had only dreamed.” This opinion was coming from a man who was drinking constantly and had little to show for his efforts other than a messy apartment.

As time, and eventually sobriety strode on, my attitude toward this population softened, but for the most part it basically remained the same; that is until one day when I was listening to an audio program in my truck by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. He was narrating a time when he and some colleagues were walking through New Orléans and happened across a homeless girl. Dr. Dyer gave her a hundred dollars and offered further assistance which she declined. His friends had tried to talk him out of giving her anything to begin with, stating that he was enabling her by handing over something that would most likely be used for self-destructive purposes. Up to this point had I agreed with his opposition, and then he said something very significant; something that changed my life in an instant. What he said was basically this, “This act of giving, without judging who is asking for it, is not between me and them, it’s between me and God. What they do with this gift is none of my business.” This struck a chord with me and it made sense. All of the sudden I was turned completely around in my attitude.

That particular day I was stuck in traffic approaching a corner where a regular guy had stood for more than a year asking for handouts. He greeted his potential source of income with  a daily dose of positive energy; broadly smiling while waving  and flashing the peace sign at everyone as they passed by. I moved over to his side of the road and rolled down my window to hand him some money. This was the first time in my life I had actually felt like giving to a total stranger.

“What’s your name?” I said as I handed him a five.

“Brian!….Thanks!”

“You make me smile every time I see you. You may not believe this but a few years ago I was damn near in the same boat you’re in, so please don’t give up hope; I’m glad I didn’t.”

On my way home I stopped at a convenience store and bought some junk food along with a one dollar scratch ticket. It turned out to be a hundred dollar winner. I couldn’t stop laughing because the five I had given away was nothing to me, scrap paper in my pocket that, knowing my habits, would probably end up in the washing machine. Fast karma and a fast lesson. I carry one dollar bills with me now to spread the wealth, but the police are cracking down on panhandling more than they used to so my opportunities are much less than they were.

Over time I would talk to Brian and encourage without criticizing or preaching, but the day came when  he simply wasn’t there; and I waited. Six months went by and someone else eventually took over his spot. Finally I worked up the courage to ask the girl, whom I had gotten to know a little, if she knew what happened to him.

“Why yes! He’s off the streets now. Brian cleaned himself up and is working full-time.” As positive as I am, I was still stunned; flabbergasted actually. Wow! One in a thousand, maybe more. This news made my week. I was relieved he was ok. I’m sure he never knew but his resolve served to inspire me even further. If the opportunity to thank him in person ever arises I will do so with great enthusiasm.

When I look at these faces now all I see is a person of potential and someone who has misplaced a connection to the ability of re-creating and improving upon their best moment. Was it on some forgotten playground, as an innocent child lost in mindless play? Maybe it was their first kiss? Perhaps it was the time they first hugged their puppy knowing that this love would never go away? Maybe it was something as simple as watching a sunset. All of us have these types memories and most attempt to build on them, but some lose their way. If someone is standing on the street corner and asking for help, do they need help? The answer is ALWAYS yes. It’s never no. DO NOT ask yourself if you think they did it to themselves or not, it does not matter. As far as I’m concerned this observation is an inarguable point. Granted, the help they need may not be what they want, but they do need help. It’s sad that in a country like the United States, where there is more abundance in our gutters than there is in many other parts of the world, that there are people who are completely blind to what literally lies at their feet.

If we all come from the same place and are destined to end eventually up where we started, why must we insist on separating ourselves between these two events? Is it our duty of the spirit to bridge this gap and repair the rift that breeds selfishness and greed? It is at least for me, and I plan to continue proving by example that our connection to each other is the secret to a life of fulfillment and peace. What good is a life of prosperity if I never share it or at the very least, show others how I got there?

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

25. ALL THE WORLD IS A MIRROR…

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I once met a man who acted exactly like me and I couldn’t stand him. This is the God’s honest truth. As I stood there slack-jawed, watching this person complain, blame, and throw a tantrum, I was both amused and horrified. His behavior was not just disruptive to his own agenda, it was interfering with the duties of those around him. As he flailed about it dawned upon me that all of his energy was being used on the opposite of what he said he wanted; getting the job done. I was a year and a half past my most self destructive behavior when this happened, and I was grateful for having witnessed it. I’d never been so stunned in my life. I was this man; selfish, self-centered, and looking for excuses in my environment that could perpetuate my behavior. I felt sick. I also felt fortunate.

Do I really feel we see ourselves in others? Yes. There is a way to use this observation to  great advantage, and it’s probably not what you think it is. Most people don’t want to openly admit their mistakes or flaws, preferring instead to keep a mental note of what not to repeat should similar situations arise. Fair enough, though the benefits of humility, trust, and respect will flourish when one is quick to admit error to those it has inconvenienced. Since it is rather painful to look at what annoys us the most and try to find that part of ourselves that aligns with what needs purged, I would suggest an entirely different path. Look instead to everyone around you and seek out what is good, beautiful, perfect, and pleasant. In turn you will subconsciously elevate those same qualities in yourself. There is no need to evaluate the “bad” in others when observing the “good” will benefit you more. Don’t get me wrong, just as the beginning of this essay pointed out, I was glad to discover what needed changed. I think it’s easy to see that if I were to be in  constant (negative) judgment, and then go on to justify this state of mind by announcing that I was in search of myself, my ego would simply take over and I would revert to thinking I couldn’t be nearly as “broken” as those I was witness to.

Do not the best of us also see nothing but the best in others? Do not the most negative see nothing but an imperfect and broken world? Think about that for a moment. History has its examples just as our own families and colleagues provide theirs. Consider this, I believe that redemption is available to the worst of us; because if it isn’t available to the worst of us, then is isn’t available to any of us. What this means to me is that there is good in everyone, and I mean EVERYONE. The harder we look for it in others the more we must express it in our own lives. This practice lends itself to a life of love, tolerance, forgiveness, compassion, and empathy.  All of man’s struggles seem to arise from the absence of these five qualities. Let’s not let the opposite determine our actions..

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/worlds-colliding/

23. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE RIGHT QUESTION

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A few weeks ago I wrote an entry called “The Right Questions.”  This is a follow-up or companion piece to that article. Approaching life in this manner is a passion of mine, and I’ll most likely write about it again in the future.

When I first ventured towards new horizons, a different perspective of both asking and answering questions became necessary. The volume of my new-found form of analysis was more than I’d anticipated. Some examples were clear, and the answer obvious, and some were quite cryptic. The latter of the two was meant to free certain “mental” wheels that had been poorly maintained. When I was asked “What must I do to begin building up a life of reliability?” the solution was to stop being late everywhere. There was no doubt as to the meaning of this directive, and there was no uncertainty as to the outcome of its implementation. The answer came quickly and was easy to understand. On the other hand I was frequently given nothing more than the answer with instructions to search for the question. One such example was “You limit yourself because you have a fear of success.” Quite often my goal was to come up with the question that fit the answer. Eventually I did, and the question was, “Why do I avoid responsibility?”  In any case, the quality of my life improved with the quality of the questions that were being asked, either directly or indirectly.

One such question that drastically changed my life was, “If you knew you only had an hour to live and if you felt good and weren’t scared, What would you do?” It’s an old  point of discussion and I’ve heard it before, but I’d never meditated on it. Once I did, my outlook on life shifted considerably. Basically I’ve gotten two answers from those who were sincere in coming up with an honest reply. Some say prayer and silence would be their choice. This is a minority answer, and I consider it an extremely enlightened one, but maybe one in twenty will state it. The majority say something like, “I would use part of my time to thank those whose lives have made mine better. Whatever was left over I’d spend in the arms of the person I love the most.” My personal response probably lies here. It’s an interesting question because no one says “I’ve only got an hour, maybe I should clean the house, or mow the lawn, or go to the bank, or even eat.” Nothing material is attached to where true value lies. Nothing. This is but one example of a high quality question.

Most seek nothing but answers when their true quest should be identifying the correct questions. My mentor used to say, “There are no right answers to the wrong questions.” If you say to the ether “Why me?” you will get lots of answers that do nothing to empower you. In return you’ll get plenty of information designed to reaffirm why you are in a place of undesirability. Logically, if the original inquiry is producing unwanted answers, then should not the opposite question produce what is sought? Try asking instead “Why NOT me?” If you want to lose weight the opposite of “Why am I fat?” is NOT “Why am I not thin?” This is the same question in disguise. It’s true opposite would be “How can I get thin?” Subtle; yes, but believe me the brain knows the difference and it will eventually churn out what is asked of it.

Subconsciously (and of course consciously) everyone has conversations in their minds designed to eliminate what is wanted and manifest what is desired. The problem with unintentionally attracting what is unwanted lies in how we word our thoughts. Think about it. If you constantly ask yourself why are you passed by for promotion you’ll get answers that are riddled with blame rather than accountability, and these will only serve self-defeating behavior.

There are several ways to stop the habit of asking bad questions.

  1. Stop saying “why?” and start saying “how?” It’s a one word change that will produce instant results. When “why” is the driving force of a question, you will generate excuses. When “how” is used instead, you will generate solutions. By the way, don’t revert to “how come?” That’s just another “why” in disguise.
  2. Stop asking yourself questions better answered by a more qualified source i.e. “How do I stop drinking?” The use of the word “how” in this case will eventually force us beyond the limits of our own minds. When we embrace outside information (oftentimes masquerading as criticism) we open ourselves to unlimited choices, and isn’t that what we should have anyway?  Remember what Einstein said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” For me this means I have to stop re-arranging what’s in my own head convinced it will eventually add up differently. He also said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. It really comes down to listening more than talking; something I still struggle with.
  3. Start shifting your approach to life from one of doubt to one of expectation. This will automatically re-write how thoughts word themselves. Don’t generate anxiety, uncertainty,  or worry  about your goals; expect them and they will unfold. Get off the “what if?” ride and jump onto the certitude express. Remember, planning for the worst and assuming it are vastly different. Contingency plans are fine, but they must exist only in the background. Driving a vehicle without brakes and seat belts will force you to a crawl; whereas utilizing the car’s safety features will allow maximum confidence in both driver and machine.

Make a list of good questions and repeat them a LOT to yourself. If they are indeed high quality they will generate even more high quality questions. My top three are –

  • How can I become a better man?
  • How can I serve?

And..

  • How can I live without regret?

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

19. WHAT I REFUSE TO BELIEVE

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Some time ago I posted an entry designed to better introduce myself called “WHAT I BELIEVE”.  It was only half of where I stand; this completes the circle. There are common convictions many endorse that I refuse to. They hinder advancement and are useless. I choose to embrace only those philosophies which lead me away from chaos and destruction.  My goal is to live a life of peaceful constructiveness. This is NOT a path of religious sentiment nor is it the result of following a singular teaching; it’s a journey of being faithful to my spirit. I trust in guidance from an inner place. I’m not referring to that loud obnoxious voice, the one wanting nothing but pleasures of the body, known as the ego. No, I speak of an almost silent whisper coming from the deep chambers of my soul. There is where I listen, getting what I need without asking for direction. This connection has served me well and I look forward to seeing where it will eventually take me.

I refuse to blame

I refuse to believe there is never a choice.

I refuse to believe in luck.

I refuse to believe the world is getting worse.

I refuse to believe I am a victim.

I refuse to believe in seduction.

I refuse to believe the past equals the future.

I refuse to believe that there’s somewhere where God is not.

I refuse to believe that there are those beyond hope.

I refuse to believe in ugliness.

I refuse to believe I am separate from God.

I refuse to believe in impossibilities.

I refuse to believe good guys finish last.

I refuse to believe in death.

I refuse to believe first impressions.

I refuse to believe that I can’t make a difference.

I refuse to believe  negativity.

I refuse to believe I’m given more than I can handle.

I refuse to believe I cannot change.

I refuse to believe in fear.

I refuse to believe in imperfection.

I refuse to believe violence is an answer.

I refuse to fight against anything. (I will fight for something though)

I refuse to be offended.

I refuse to be late.

I refuse to stop being just a bit juvenile sometimes.

I refuse to let a day go by without trying to make someone laugh.

I refuse to be an example of what not to do.

I refuse to sell myself short.

I refuse to complain.

I refuse to do something I know I’ll regret.

I refuse to leave this world wondering what I could have done better.

I refuse to not check for toilet paper before I sit down.

I refuse to try to impress people.

I refuse to let other people’s opinions change my opinion about me.

I refuse to ever stop growing.

I refuse to ignore my feelings.

I refuse to think I’m always right.

I refuse to hate.

I refuse to ignore a cry for help.

I refuse to be unkind.

I refuse to be lazy.

I know what I don’t want because at some point I used to practice these, and they almost destroyed me. As time goes on I’m sure I’ll purge more beliefs and habits. Humble pie tastes terrible but it sure does a good job of cleaning me out.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

18. BEING TOUGH

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When I was young I got into a lot of fights. I don’t recall ever starting a single one. They were all  reactionary. It always took a lot of shoving before I finally shoved back. I never threw the first punch; didn’t really have the guts for it. This isn’t to say I wasn’t an instigator of sorts. I was self-centered, loud, opinionated, and downright strange. My attitude and behavior rubbed many the wrong direction. I never felt as if I were being a jerk nor was I conscious of how disruptive I could be; it’s just that my manners didn’t always put others first, something I eventually learned, thank God.

The desire to solve situations from a state of anger is the easily one of the most common routes traveled, especially for men. From playgrounds to the world stage we are witness to its evidence on a daily basis. There are other ways with similar properties, laziness, ignorance, apathy, victimization, and so on. These paths are so worn that very little grows here. Do not take this metaphor lightly. Truly, when  we embrace the easy routes, nothing will manifest towards challenging us to be better. We think it’s tough to put up a fight, stand our ground, and defend what we believe in. Upon the contrary actually. The REAL way to personify toughness  is to walk away from a fight, change our minds, and  defend those we don’t agree with. To be tough, really tough, we must do those things that are actually tough to do.

When I began the journey out of my fog, my mentor asked me what I wanted to accomplish from the challenges that lay ahead. I stated my goal was to prove to him just how tough I could be. He said that was my ego talking; it wasn’t. I knew that a truly better life was something not very many choose to pursue. The way was never clearly marked, but the promise of capturing something few could claim to own was all the invitation I needed. What I speak of is a life lived in constant conscious improvement. I refer the triad of existence – mind, body, and spirit. Feed these three the proper nutrients and they will both grow and serve. Personally my list is rather clear. Every day I seek to become a little more healthy, informed, kind, productive, empathetic, honest, etc. Please notice the qualities I have sought to expand are my interior ones. I focus NO energy at all on such things as a bigger car, increased power, more money, or a better reputation. These pursuits are, believe it or not, the easier way. They may seem difficult at first, but when compared to strengthening the point of origin, they’re child’s play. I have nothing against a better exterior, but in order for it to be fulfilling, at least to me, it must be the result of living from the inside out.

I dare you to go forth and become the toughest person you’ve ever met. Drop the need to be right. Be in a constant state of politeness. Look the homeless in the eye and smile while you think a kind thought. Be willing to give without expecting or asking for compensation. Learn a new language. Defend the absent. Ask for help. Learn how to play an instrument. Read Shakespeare. Show your emotions. Throw or give away all the stuff you don’t use anymore. Stop complaining and start praising. Do these things sound tough to do? Damn right; some of them for some, all of them for others. Obviously the list could continue with a plethora of examples.

There are a few ways to determine your toughest route, so try these suggestions.

  •  Make a list of your fears.

      Decide to, one at a time, eradicate irrational fears. They serve nothing and take up too much room in an already crowded life. Not wanting to enter a dark alley in a bad part of town is a rational fear. That little spider on the counter top poses a zero threat, really. This is an irrational fear.

  •  Recognize that we see ourselves in others.

     This is literally the fastest way to pinpoint what needs improving. Don’t believe me? Try leaving for work with plenty of time and see if the traffic is even slightly annoying. When you are late those who are also late will get in your way. When you’re early you won’t care who’s late (or thoughtless) around you.

  •  Pick a mentor.

      All of us admire someone. Most of us know at least one person no wind could move. They are at peace in any situation. They probably have a good deal of abundance in their lives that reflect upon both themselves and their environment. There are of course others in the public eye that can be looked to with the same definition. Remarkably, many of these people choose to share and teach how they remain in an unwavering attitude concerning their commitments to a better way of living. Mimic their behavior and you will reproduce similar results for yourself.

  •  Slow down somewhat and choose a noble course of action.

     When we give a little more time to allow ourselves a choice of actions (rather than the habitual or instinctive ones) we open a window to view alternative courses. I feel we almost always blindly choose the easiest (or perhaps most commonly used) method for approaching  how we “take offence” or “present defense.” For instance when someone insults you, try saying that you were just about to remark on the nice shirt they were wearing. Nothing like water to put out a fire.

  •  Embrace the idea of sacrifice.

   There is no reward without the intent of sacrifice. When time is needed to accomplish what must be done, some leisure activities are usually forfeit. When money is needed to seed an idea, frivolous spending must come to a stop. When weight is to be lost, chocolate must stay in the candy isle. Most people are reluctant to give up pleasure and replace it with what they think might be pain, but it’s all relative anyway. The idea of sacrifice can easily be equated with taking chances. This attitude can keep us in a falsely labeled “safe zone”. How many chances have you taken that improved your life? How many chances have you not taken that ended in regret? The opposite is true of course for both sides, but let’s be honest, taking chances is always far and away the more positive route. Ask yourself these questions, and you’ll see why it’s vital to occasionally step away from where you’ve convinced yourself your comfortable.

  • Stop looking backwards while walking forward.

     Take your focus off what might repeat itself from and place your attention on the future. This is how to envision and motivate real change. When we choose to see only what’s behind us, constantly fearing the past is doomed to repeat itself, any kind of  progress is going to be labeled as luck, or even worse, we’re going to feel unworthy of reward. Walking one way and looking another may gain a tiny bit of road, but in the end it will eventually cause a major accident. A life lived reactivity is the way of cowardice. It’s filled with excuses like “what if?” and “how come?” An active life defines true courage. Excuses do not exist here; trust, and determination do. This does not mean we should move forward without at least a rear-view mirror. Reminders of where we don’t want to be can put a little more speed in our progress, just don’t stop looking ahead.

So…..are you tough or easy? Me? I have both characteristics just like most, but the proof that I’m a lot tougher than I used to be presents itself as unexpected abundance, something I’m confidant will never stop expanding.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

17. LIBERTY RE-WRITTEN

 statue-of-liberty

TWENTY REASONS WHY I KNOW THE WORLD IS A MUCH BETTER PLACE THAN IT WAS ONLY 150 YEARS AGO….

  1. Indoor plumbing.
  2. Soap, bathing, deodorant, and a general acceptance toward a cleaner lifestyle.
  3. The 40 hour work week.
  4. We don’t gather in the town square and watch people get hung for lack of entertainment anymore.
  5. The accessibility to a highly educated and well informed life (past even the most scholarly of people) is literally lying in wait to be absorbed at libraries and the internet for FREE.
  6. Refrigeration. It has been suggested that this is the most important invention since the wheel. I agree.
  7. We as a world are recognizing more than ever the potential equality of every human.
  8. More people are working on more solutions for those who suffer than ever before.
  9. The ability for one voice to be heard around the world is easily within the grasp of those who seek it. All change throughout history has started this way, and now it can happen at the speed of light.
  10. Medical advancements have not only relieved hardship and misery from millions, the average life span has been extended so further progress in all areas of existence can be explored by those who survive.
  11. Radio, television, movies, and now the internet now brings to even the most remote regions of the world our capacity to express beauty, art, and our common threads in the form of music, imagery, and literature.
  12. The idea of freedom is the magnetic pull that seeks to unite all mankind. It expands daily and will not be stopped. Hope grows in the minds of those who never dared think it.
  13. Self-help, community support, and 12 step groups have given countless sufferers a path out of darkness that never previously existed.
  14. The electrifying of the planet has done more to bring comfort and convenience into our lives than almost anything else.
  15. The scientific community as a whole, from micro-technology to space travel, drives us to continued exploration of of our boundaries, both inside and out. These achievements perpetuate unity and purpose.
  16. We are finally recognizing we cannot continue exploiting our support system, a.k.a- the planet itself. “Saving the Earth” is NOT about whether or not it can overcome our abuse, it will. I’t’s about whether or not we will be on it when it eventually does. We are finally seeing we can only s**t  where we sleep so long.
  17. A largely unrecognized step in our recent evolution is the rise of humor. From visual media to literature, from stand-up comics to comic strips, we have embrace the desire to share and perpetuate laughter.
  18. Feats of engineering have improved almost everyone’s lives. Roads, buildings, heating and air conditioning, all forms of transportation, etc. are part of a better, more connected, world. The list is vast and continues to grow.
  19. Prejudice is waning and forgiveness is growing.The treatment of groups that were once trod upon for ethnic, political, spiritual, mental, and sexual issues or reasons is slowly fading away. In return these groups are learning to release the hate they have expressed towards their oppressors and move on into lives of self-empowerment; dropping the need to blame or accuse current situations on past events.
  20. The beauty of our universe is being revealed in ways never before dreamed. The magnificence of this infinite painting that God has so eloquently created is beyond description. If united we can look upon this and realize just what a miracle it is even to do so, then perhaps we have a chance to grow beyond our differences and continue in peaceful coexistence.

Do I know there are circumstances in the world that need to be erased? Do I know the aforementioned conditions are not everywhere? Of course I do. The goal here is NOT to dwell on problems, but solutions. Please feel free to add to this list and make it grow. Focus on what is already good and getting better. This isn’t a wish list, it’s a recognition one. The dreams of today are the cradles of our children. May future generations have the hindsight to thank their ancestors better than we have.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

 

16. A HOLIDAY STORY

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Once upon a time…..

This is a little out of season, but I suppose it is Christmas in July. It’s one of my favorite stories, and it’s as true as I can tell it.

In 1983, I was a teenager working at a local mall in the Denver metro area, Southglenn; for those of you old and close enough to remember. In any case, my minimum wage duties included a lot of cleaning, so as a result I walked the entire circuit several times a night. The holiday season was upon us, and the parking lots were full, as was every store.  Although we were in the middle of a bitter cold snap (the temperature had been dropping to 20 below for two weeks and had never risen above zero), this didn’t deter the bustling crowds. The place was as packed as I had ever seen. The frozen conditions outside didn’t seem to be keeping the shoppers from being cheerful and courteous. Their good mood served to elevate mine.

As usual for this time of year there was a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army standing by the main entrance to the mall. His efforts at collecting weren’t meeting with much success, and I’m sure this, along with the temperature, served to dampen his resolve.  It’s not that people weren’t in the spirit of giving, it’s just that they wanted to get inside and away from the weather as quickly as possible. As the day progressed he decided to move his operation indoors. I didn’t blame him. There was, however, an unexpected reaction to his new location. The part of the mall where he had relocated was two stories high and wide open, so in essence it was a large chamber; an echo chamber if you get where I’m going with this. The poor fella went from being cold and ignored to center stage and annoying. Frustrated that his new location was even less profitable, he packed up and left.

Later that day, as I was completing yet another lap around the mall, I happened to be upstairs on the balcony over where the man had previously been standing. He was back and all set-up, bucket and Santa outfit, but no bell. He was waving something around, and most people were dropping money as they passed by. I was too far away to clearly see what exactly was going on, so I decided to take a closer look.

When I got downstairs it became obvious that this man came up with an ingenious solution to the predicaments of the day. Across from where he was standing was a toy store. Apparently he had gone in and bought one of those annoying paddle games; the one where there’s a rubber ball attached to an elastic cord. It’s singular function was to bounce it back and forth on itself like a sideways yo-yo.  Well, he definitely changed its purpose, and he vastly improved upon it in my opinion. After removing the ball and cord, he had taken the paddle itself and written on it in black marker “DING DONG.” He was joyously waving this around for all to see, much to the delight of those passing by. I couldn’t stop smiling. The bucket was packed full of money.

Every Christmas when I see those persistent bell ringers, I always think of the one man who seemed to please both the crowd and his purpose. If I ever see the act repeated, I’m going to have a genuine urge to drop in my paycheck. I’ve been convinced since then that without a doubt, silence truly is golden.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood