ME AND THE ELEPHANTS

“One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I don’t know.”

Groucho Marx, comedian

You never know what you’re going to discover when you start looking through the branches of your family tree. I found some elephants in mine.

Yes, elephants.

You see actor Wallace Berry is my cousin. He won an Academy award for his role in the 1931 movie, The Champ. For a time, he was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. But his show business career didn’t start in front of the cameras. Along with his brother, young Wallace ran away from home and joined Ringling Brothers Circus. He became an elephant tender. In fact, he came up with the idea for the elephants to march in line trunk to tail.

Not long ago, after battling animal rights protesters for years,  Ringling took the elephants out of their show. And soon after that they called it quits all together.

So the elephants may be gone from the circus but they are still part of my DNA and have a very important role in the way I conduct my life.

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“The way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.”

Robert Schuller, minister

I’m a marathon runner. A marathon race is 26.2 miles long. Running since 1986, I’ve completed over forty marathons in cities all over the country. But I’ve never run all 26.2 miles at once. No, I’ve run 1 mile 26 times in a row. And then another 365 yards for a grand total of 26.2 miles.

And so it goes with any goal – break it down into bite size chunks and in time, with determination and grit, you’ve eaten the whole elephant and crossed the finish line.

“When you have an elephant by the hind legs and he is trying to run away, it’s best to let him run.”

Abraham Lincoln, Sixteenth President of the United States

There are things you can do something about and some things you can never do anything about. So the sooner you figure out which is which, the better off you and whatever elephant you have by the hind legs will be.

We can’t do anything about our age so rather than complain about wrinkles change their name to twinkles and move on. We can’t do anything about the weather because no matter what you say about it, it does what it wants to do. Put on your snowshoes, grab your umbrella, adapt and keep smiling.

And if someone chooses not to love you, it hurts. But you won’t find someone who will love you if you let that elephant drag you and your heart down the road.

“When elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers.”

African proverb

There is no guarantee how long my life or yours is going to be. So let’s be friends. I’ll bet we’re more alike than different. Peace is a whole lot more fun than war.

Visit me at www.buddybloomwildflower.com

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SEE YOU ON MARS

“No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.”

Helen Keller, author and political activist

 

July 20, 1969

I was seventeen and Neil Armstrong was walking on the moon.

January 11, 2017

It’s been reported that a modern cell phone now has more computing power than the rocket that got him there.

As I consider this miracle, I’m also thinking about a telephone conversation I had with my four-year old grandson. He’s learned the names of all the planets. And in a picture sent to me he looks every bit like the astronaut in a costume and helmet. At the end of our phone chat he signed off by saying, “Good bye, Grandpa. See you tomorrow on Mars.”

Think about it.

It’s possible.

Maybe not tomorrow – but soon.

Journalist Stephen Petranek, author of How We’ll Live On Mars, thinks we have the nuts, bolts, and willpower to arrive there within the next twenty years. He says, “The achievement will make dreamy science fiction like Star Wars and Star Trek begin to look real…it will, for better or worse, create a wave of fortune seekers to rival those of the California Gold Rush.”

Wow!

Ten…nine…eight…seven…six… five…

Wait!

Before we blast off for Mars, I have other frontiers to conquer.

My last birthday cake only had 65 candles – I’m still young and full of beans.

 

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TO DO LIST

Before October 11, 2036 (my 85th birthday)

Bean Town Or Bust!

I am going to run in the Boston Marathon.

I am going to run in the New York Marathon.

I am going to run up the Rocky Steps in Philadelphia.

“Until you start believing in yourself, you ain’t going to have a life.”

Rocky Balboa, boxer

Whenever you tell someone you’ve run a marathon race, in my case forty or so since 1986, the next question is, “Have you run in the Boston Marathon?”

My answer is no. And if the follow-up question is, “Why not?” I tell them because I have not yet qualified to run in it.

A marathon race is 26.2 miles long and my fastest race to the finish line was 3 hours and 37 minutes.

That was in 1989. I was 38 years old.

Now, at age 65, in order to be accepted into the Boston Marathon I am required to finish another marathon in less than 4 hours and 15 mins. That’s a 9 minute and 45 second per mile pace.

I have work to do.

Most of it from the neck up – it all starts with attitude.

“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”

Henry Ford, American Industrialist

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength;

they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.”

Isaiah 40:31

 

Visit me at www.buddybloomwildflower.com

RED NOSE IN THE MORNING

“No matter how you feel…Get up. Dress up. Show up. And never give up.”

Regina Brett, newspaper columnist

 

How do you start your day?

Let me tell you how I start mine.

The alarm clock goes off at 5AM. Feet hit the floor and I head to the bathroom.  After a short visit to the commode, it’s time to face the mirror. A splash of cold water, fully awake now –  it’s show time! From the pocket of my bathrobe, I pull out a red clown nose.

This is the magic.

Looking into the mirror, the clown looking back at me now, I say out loud.

“Today I’m going to make someone glad they met me.”

It’s only a few minutes after five and I’m about to make what could be the most important decision of the day. In the words of author George Eliot, “Wear a smile and have friends; wear a scowl and have wrinkles.”

Yes, this may sound a bit silly. I’ll even admit to weird. But think about it. I’m 65, most likely I have less years in front of me than I do behind. So how do I want to leave the world stage that Shakespeare wrote about. I’ll take my cue from the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibet. He said, “My religion is very simple, my religion is kindness.”

I won’t really be wearing that red nose the rest of the day, except in my imagination, where it’s still there and I’m in the center ring at the circus.

Now I will confess, there are some days when this little ritual is harder to perform than others. And I’ll also admit it can sometimes be a bit challenging to choose kindness over telling someone where the nearest lake is you want them to jump in. It comes down to a question, “Do I want to be a cranky old geezer or a zany clown who leaves them laughing?”

My wife and our cat are the first to receive my positive vibrations. And how important is that? What do you want your last words to be to the person and animal you love the most? After all, we’re never certain when we’ll be speaking those last words. Years ago there was a television commercial telling us to never leave home without a certain credit card. I say never leave home without leaving some kind words behind.

Out the door on the way to the car, if I spot a neighbor or two, “Good morning”

On the way to work, if someone makes eye contact at a traffic light they get a smile.

At the preschool where I work the kids and staff get an enthusiastic greeting.

Store clerks, bank tellers and the person who delivers our mail are fair game.

Watch out! You may be next.

At the end of the day, kindness may not have made my bank account any bigger. But for some reason, I feel very rich.

 

Visit me at www.buddybloomwildflower.com