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.

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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

 

 

 

 

+THE SECOND ACT

I can appreciate awful people.

Without them I wouldn’t know how thankful I am for wonderful people

Anonymous

This story is about a butt-head, a dinner plate, and a night at the theatre.

A butt-head is someone who isn’t very nice.

When I add up my blessings, I always add the butt-heads of the world to my list. They are great teachers for how I don’t want to be and act.

A dinner plate is most often 10 inches in diameter and used for the main course of a meal.

I enjoy eating and especially eating off a plate.

A theatre is a building or outdoor area where plays are performed.

Watching a good play has always been fun.

And so two of my favorite pastimes, (eating and watching a play) came together long ago at a place called, The Country Dinner Playhouse.

The third part of the equation, watching the butt-head perform, was an unexpected bonus I call The Second Act.

This drama took place over forty years ago but the lesson it taught me remains steadfast in my memory – especially at dinner time when I have a plate in front of me.

Let the show begin.

My Mother won four tickets to a play. My Father, a truck driver, was on his way to Chicago. I was conscripted for the job of chauffeur. My Mother, my wife, my Aunt Lucy and myself were set for a night on the town. We were going to see Sheila MacRae starring in The Owl and the Pussycat.

But first, dinner.

And here comes the butt-head.

Before the play begins there is a large dinner buffet set up in the center of the room surrounded by tables. When the meal is over the buffet is wheeled away and that space is used for the show. A waitress moves from table to table letting people know when it’s their turn to visit the buffet.

About a dozen tables from where we sat the butt-head in our story decided he and his friends were not being served fast enough. I couldn’t hear what was being said but after a short visit with the manager, the butt-head and his guests headed to the buffet. Butt-head stacked his plate with food three times higher than a normal serving. His guests slowly followed. It didn’t take an Einstein to read their embarrassment.

And it didn’t get any better. Butt-head made two more trips to the buffet, using his fork like a bayonet. His friends made only that first trip and slowly ate their meal with heads down and no conversation. During the show, while the rest of the audience was laughing, they didn’t respond. With gloom, they made a slow exit at the end of the evening.

What happened next?

We’ll never know.

My prayer is that butt-head apologized to his friends, changed his attitude, and found some joy in his next trip to the theatre.

And I apologize for calling him a butt-head.

 

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CARTWHEELS AND MUD PIES

“There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million.”

Walt Streightiff, author

 

Not long ago on my way home from work I stopped at the grocery store. I was hungry and I was in a hurry. I grabbed a shopping cart and began zooming up one aisle and down the next, tossing what I needed into the basket. As I rounded the corner, heading for the oatmeal, just a few feet ahead of me was a young girl and her mother. While the mother was flipping through some coupons, the little girl began doing cartwheels down the isle.

The mother looked up long enough to say, “Stop it. Act your age.”

It seemed to me the little girl was acting her age. Perhaps the grocery store is not the ideal place to be doing cartwheels, but then again, maybe it is. Maybe we would all be better adults if we learned to be better children. In the middle of our worry and hurry just suppose we stopped long enough to do a few cartwheels or something else just as silly.

When was the last time you made a mud pie? When was the last time you played with a Yo Yo?

When was the last time you flew a kite?

I agree with Robert Ingersoll who wrote, “The time to be happy is now, the place to be happy is here.”

Have you ever noticed that wherever children are they can find a way to have fun? What are we grown ups waiting for? True, there is plenty of trouble in the world, but there is also a million ways to have fun. Don’t postpone joy.

Once upon a time a little old lady was driving her car down the road. On the seat beside her was a pig. A Highway Patrolman stopped her for speeding. While the officer was writing out the ticket, the little old lady explained that she found the pig walking down the road and didn’t know what to do with it. The officer told her to take the pig to the zoo.

The very next day the very same little old lady was driving down the very same road with the very same pig still on the very same seat beside her. Once again the very same Highway Patrolman stopped her for speeding. When he saw the pig beside her he said, “I thought I told you to take that pig to the zoo.”

The little old lady smiled then said to the officer, “I did take the pig to the zoo and he had such a great time that today, after lunch, I’m going to take him to the circus.”

Today, be childlike and have some fun. Go to the zoo. Go to the circus. And if you don’t have someone to go with, take a pig.

 

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”

Proverbs 17:22

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