Tag Archives: self-help

When I Learned That Harm Can Be Love

While painting some gutters,  a baby bird’s chirp caught my attention.  Not wanting to alarm him, I looked high and low for the nest but was unable to find it.

Repositioning my ladder, the chirps increased in volume and intensity.  Peering cautiously into the bush, I searched the shadows for him.  But what I meant as cautionary he perceived as a tactical threat.  Launching himself from his hiding place, and giving me a scare, the young sparrow flew away.

Only he was too young to fly.  So instead of reaching another bush and safety, he landed in the yard.  Dazed, he chirped repeatedly, no doubt calling to his parents for help.

Standing high on my ladder, I had the perfect assessment of his situation.  Not only was he out in the open and easy prey for the neighborhood cats, but he sat only a few feet away from a busy street.  I knew he couldn’t escape danger, and that it was impossible for his parents to help him, so I decided to make the rescue.

Hopping off my ladder, I grabbed an empty 1 gallon bucket to trap him, scoop him up and then set him free.  At least that was the plan.

But as I neared, he chirped and flapped and flitted away.  Once more, he presumed that my intention was harm when in reality I only wanted to rescue him.  And in fact, his efforts to escape were not only moving him toward the street, but were alerting the prowling cats.

Desperate, I crouched and crept closer.  And as quickly as I could, I dropped the bucket over him.

I could hear his wings fluttering against the bucket and his frantic chirps echoing within.  My heart broke.  I wished that I could speak “sparrow” and tell him that I had no intention of hurting him, and that this was the only way to rescue him, and that he was going to live, and that I would set him free in an even better place.

And it was at that moment that I better understood how God must “feel” trying to love me.  It’s not a perfect picture, but like the sparrow, in my attempts to find freedom apart from God, I’ve discovered gravity’s ruling hand and have landed in the middle of danger.  Likewise, I too interpreted his scooping “hand” as being hurtful and cruel.  But looking back, perhaps standing on a rung of life’s ladder, I see that it was the only way out, and what I defined as harm was in fact the most loving thing he could have done.


Perception, Reality, and the Eagles.

Back when I was a touring musician out of Nashville, I had a funny experience in which perception wasn’t reality.

Our custom tour bus was parked one morning in a shopping mall.  Needing breakfast, I donned shades, ball cap and joined a fellow musician for the short jaunt across the parking lot to McDonald’s.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a couple making a bee-line for us.

“Please!” she waved, “Can we get your picture in front of your bus?”

We hadn’t showered, were groggy and thus were totally bamboozled why this woman would want a picture of two scraggly  musicians.  Nevertheless, we shrugged and posed arm-over-shoulder as she snapped away.

Thanking us profusely, she jogged off with her husband, giddy with excitement.

“What was that all about?” my friend asked.  I glanced over my shoulder at our tour bus.  Air brushed in large letters across the back side was, “Hotel California.”

I burst out laughing.  “She thinks we’re the Eagles!”  We laughed all the way to the golden arches.

In marketing one’s product, whether it’s a book or an idea, you want the public to “see you” (perception) in a way that makes you larger than life.  After all, you need to stand out from the pack.  Take the story I just shared.  The fact that this poor woman has our picture pasted & labeled in her scrapbook as, “The Eagles: On Tour!” isn’t our fault.  It’s actually hilarious!  Does she point me out as Joe Walsh?  Don Henley?  But I digress.  The point is this: We didn’t lie to her (she never asked us who we were!) nor did we falsely promote ourselves.  She merely perceived us to be someone else based upon our image (i.e., tour bus, logo, etc.)

So as you begin the process of selling and promoting, don’t worry if people misunderstand or perceive you as someone you’re not.

It may be the very thing that will help you succeed.  Who knows, maybe you too will be an Eagle!

 

 


Do you live life as a classicist or a jazzer?

Although I like to consider myself more of a “jazzer” (“able to improv through life”) than a “classicist” (“plays life like a score: no surprises & well-rehearsed”), when life doesn’t “work,” I quickly become a classicist.

Take this morning and my Jeep.  Please!  Take it!  Somewhere within its electrical system is a tiny wire or a little fuse that has decided to render the thing dead.

So at 6 AM, I began to improvise: juggling this person here to fulfill that need there, emailing so-and-so to ward off affecting you-know-who.  Plotting, planning, thinking, scheming…

Etc., etc., etc.

So as a “jazzer,” you’d think I’d love this early morning composition, which has been more like a frantic bebop piece than a cool ballad.  But I’m not.  No, I’m really, really not!  In fact, I wish my life was a classical score so I could go practice, nail my part, and bow to wondrous applause.

So how about you?

“Jazzer” or “classicist?”


Never Forget Your First Love

When I was in college, I learned a valuable life lesson from an unlikely source…my bass professor.

During a lesson in preparation for my senior recital, he stopped me midway through a section.  I studied the music to see where I’d made a mistake (but didn’t see anything) so I began again.  He quickly stopped me and said, “Play a C major scale.”

Without flinching, I flew up the fingerboard, but before I had reached the next octave, he interrupted me yet again.

“Let me see it,” he said.  Unnerved, I handed him my upright bass and bow, wondering if it wasn’t too late to change majors.  He began to play the scale slowly, making each note ring with purpose. In fact, my instrument had never sounded better!

“You’ve forgotten why you became a bassist,” he counseled, as he made my instrument come alive.  “Listen to each note.  Enjoy how rich it sounds.  Feel how it resonates through your body.”

He was right.  I had become so consumed with flashy speed and finger dexterity that I’d lost touch with my passion.  I was playing notes, not music.

Although this was a music lesson, I’ve found that this truth spills over into every aspect of my life: writing, marriage, parenting, spirituality…

I often have to take a moment and ask myself: “Have I forgotten my first love?”  “Have I forgotten why I became a _____?”

And since speed kills–and we’re all going 100 mph in a 50 zone–I know I need to take drastic measures.  So I take my foot of the gas, pull off to the side of the road, gaze into the sunset, and get reacquainted with my heart.

For me, it’s the difference between life and LIFE!


To War or “Let it Be”?

The nice thing about living in the Southeast is the milder weather.  Case in point: yesterday I weed wacked my big yard.  As I listened to the buzz-brrr of my machine, I took stock of my yard.

The weed to grass ratio was, well, embarrassing.  Weed killer would reduce my yard to Oklahoma during the 1930’s Dust Bowl!

And then there are the moles in the back.  They’ve built a tunnel system that rivals London’s Tube.

A wealthy man would pay to have someone fix it.  A zealous “green-thumber” would roll up his sleeves and dive in.  Seeing I’m neither, I have to either declare all out war or start singing “Let it Be.”

Of course, there’s another solution. I could unleash my dachshund on the moles (since they’re bred to hunt badgers) and force my kids into slave labor for the next 6 months.  I would “manage” from the shade, sipping mint juleps and serenading them with, “Let it Be.”

Now THAT sounds like a plan! 🙂


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