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Monthly Archives: July 2011

THE VALUE OF NOTES

In my studies of Great Lives this year, I have found that many great people had a common practice of keeping a regular journal, diary, notes or a combination of all of the above.  Such was the case, for example, in the lives of Emerson, Gandhi, Franklin,  Da Vince and others.

I recently attended the 100 year anniversary exhibit in the Ronald W. Reagan Library, and was amazed to discover a secret finding as of 2010.  In the spring of 2010, found in a box in the archives of the assorted Reagan memorabilia, was a cardboard box marked “RR’s desk.”  In this box, bundled by rubber bands, were note cards penned by Ronald Reagan from 1952 until his death in 2004.  He actually banded and catagorized them as Humor, On Liberty, On War, On the People, On Religion, the world, character, political theater, etc..

rr-journalMany of his notes were given in addresses or in some way made it to the public forum.  If it were worth thinking, reading, or learning, he recorded these inspirations and shared them.  The notes he saved represent much of what he believed and esteemed as valuable and worthy of sharing in many different settings, from speeches as a governor, the President of the United States, as a father and husband, or simply to record and write things that resonated with his being.

A few years ago, I took to the practice of carrying writing cards in my pocket and always having a writing instrument handy.  I used this to remind me of thoughts I wanted to expand upon and not let them “slip away.”  I copied this practice from a friend who leads an ecclesiastical congregation; and have witnessed how he has captured many inspired thoughts that have come to him and used these cards to teach from later on.

We live in a world of high tech, high speed, high volume information; where most of our interactions are in texts, e-mails, facebook, tweets or similar e-spew.  How refreshing it was for me, and somewhat validating, to have witnessed whom I consider a great man, capture and enshrine in a very personal way (hand written entries), documents that became his own Rosetta stone.

Emerson noted that his journal notes become the “hive in which he stored the honey of his mind as the bees of his brain produced it.”  I believe we can capture much good in the practice of keeping notes; I am inspired by the “Ronald Reagan’s” of the world, and vow to do a better job of keeping the notes of inspiration and noteworthy things that I cull from my studies, experiences, and ponderings. 

Let me conclude with one note of humor as written on a note, from the new book Ronald Reagan, THE NOTES:

Man had nite mares every nite- big savage animals crawled out from under the bed & attacked him.  “Went to my brother and he stopped it.”  “You’re brother is a psych.?”  “No, carpenter.  He sawed the legs off the bed.”

Keep good notes my friends- there is value in them.

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Posted by on July 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

A TIME TO APPRECIATE WHAT IS REAL

It happened suddenly, it seemed.  One day my manners from the farm didn’t measure up to the standards of the city-and so I changed.  My behaviors had to become more refined in order to be accepted as one who could be a true “professional.”  Some things I learned by experience, like when I asked for ketchup on my steak in a fancy restaurant and they brought it to me in a little pretty cup, covered with a cloth napkin.  I had no idea this request would be unacceptable.  Some manners I learned through embarrassment; when I would unknowingly commit a crime of culture and had no idea until after the fact.  My wife, having grown up in the city, was more learned in the refinement realm.  She has had to grin and bear; but, thankfully, she has never disowned me. 

I have a friend who joined a nice golf country club in California, and was kicked out in three months.  He is one of the coolest guys on earth.  Real to the core; and I guess it just never dawned on him that you weren’t supposed to drive carts on the green, have your kids run around on the practice green (playing a type of marbles game with golf balls) while others were trying to putt, or that you had to play the holes in order.  I’m serious, he really didn’t know any different.  He is a very successful printer, and decided to join a club where his family could have a park of their own.  It happened to be a golf club.

At first, I was really sad that they kicked him out- I felt bad for him.  But then, as I thought about it, I was even sadder for the club.  They lost a gem- someone the upper crust could learn a lot about life from and enjoy his wonderful but odd personality along the way.  Never mind that even I could not stomach to watch him eat; he is the warmest most sincere man you will ever meet.  I could turn my head while he ate, and still thrill to be in his company.

cotton-candySo as I watched my granddaughter enjoy some cotton candy at the ball game the other day, with no regard to how much ended up on her face, I thought to myself, “who made the rules we call manners?”  Sometimes, it is soooo refreshing to see pure enjoyment, pure inhibition with almost no regard to the public  image.   I think we can use a little more of this- isn’t this what they call “Men’s Night” at the clubs, or “Ladies Night Out?”  An hour or two where manners go out the door and living with freedom fills the soul as we strip away the worldly expectations?

Now I would never subscribe to behavior that would step across lines of indecency or immorality; but I do feel like we ought to be able to be ourselves and appreciate each other’s unique idiosyncrasies without judgment- at least from time to time.  That is the kind of occasional refreshment we could all use a dose of… if you dare.

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2011 in Uncategorized