What if you changed the game?
April 30, 2014
Maybe it was the elderly couple who spent a few of their golden years trying to clear a basement stuffed with detritus. Maybe it was George Carlin, who said a house is just a place for your stuff -- a place to store it while you go out and get more stuff. More likely it was me, when I realized everything I bought only gave me something new to clean and stash and move aside to get to something else.
Somewhere along the way I opted out. Doing dishes and keeping dust bunnies at bay is enough meditation in the form of housework, thank you very much. To maintain a museum of collectibles? Shoot me now.
Before Darrell and Katie came along, friends told me I lived as if I was on the run from the police. “Thank you!” I’d gush, looking at my (count ‘em) three boxes of journals and books and other souvenirs. I had a few dishes, a few clothes, and that was about it.
I felt free.
What if you changed the game? What if, instead of seeing how much stuff you could acquire, you saw how little you could get by with?
You might find yourself with more money, more time, and less dread you’ll one day burn up years of your life shedding what you never needed to begin with.
How do you define a dream?
April 29, 2014
“A dream is a project.”
I can still hear the guy who said that. He’d invented a contraption that keeps dogs safe while riding in a car. He’d delivered the line with so much enthusiasm he threatened to give dreams a bad name. That’s how much work he made them sound.
We’d spent the first few minutes of our conversation talking about how much he loves dogs. Nothing superficial about this affection. It went deep. It burned with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns, as Katie might’ve described it years ago -- reciting a line from a favorite cartoon.
Dog Lover put me on hold for a minute while he corralled one of his furry friends, but he didn’t realize the recorder was still on. When we listened to the interview later we couldn’t stop laughing at what had happened while we were on hold. “Shut up!” he’d screamed at the dog he loved so much, so loudly and with so much frustration I swear I can still hear it.
You love your pets, your work, your life. But up close, on any given day, maybe not so much.
“Dreamy” is often only from a distance.
How’s your vision?
April 28, 2014
It was stunning, really. In the course of an approximately fifteen-minute conversation, the gentleman had trashed not only high school and college sports -- but high school and college altogether, driving in the winter, and life itself.
Don’t get me wrong. There are problems, big problems, inherent in all of those.
But the man was so down on everything I wondered how he found motivation to get up in the morning. What could possibly be the point?
“Indeed,” I’m sure he would’ve said.
There’s some grumpy in all of us, I bet -- including me. But because I don’t talk with this person very often, it was easy to see him for what he was -- a bit of a spirit killer. All you could do was laugh at the hopelessness worthy of a Rodney Dangerfield routine.
So why, when I’m having a bad day, it’s sometimes difficult to remember life won’t always suck?
Because I’m too close to the situation, that’s why. It’s like holding your hand really close to your face. It looks fuzzy. You have to pull away a little, to sharpen that perspective.
See for yourself.
What does your body know?
April 24, 2014
Most of the time you’ll find me slouched over a keyboard. Sometimes you’ll hear me trailing off at the end of a sentence, to keep from offending by saying something straight out.
I’m not proud.
Darrell’s noticed that isn’t always true. There are times I stand up straight and present myself with not only confidence but with the full force of my convictions.
I take it as a sign what I’m talking about is worth your time. I find it interesting my body knows something my mind hasn’t had the chance to process yet.
What does your body language say about you?
How do you withstand the bullies?
April 23, 2014
You wouldn’t expect the author of a book called The Benevolent Dictator to have much patience for people who cry at work. Would you?
But Michael Feuer, former CEO of OfficeMax who’s graced the talk show more than once, told me he doesn’t read tears as a sign of weakness. He reads them as a sign he’s doing something wrong.
Hence the word benevolent, huh?
When someone starts crying -- or yelling, for that matter -- you can take it as a sign productive communication is over. You don’t have to give up on that, but unless you stop for a moment and reassess your technique I wish you luck getting anywhere you want to go.
You probably know people who keep tickling after you beg them to stop. Who keep teasing after you tell them it hurts. Who won’t let up with the accusations when they couldn’t be further from your truth.
If they refuse to read the signs it’s your job to hold up a bigger one.
It’s red and white, has eight sides, and will help you turn a corner -- if you take it seriously.
Who ups your game?
April 22, 2014
When I found out my friend Colleen had subscribed to my blog, I tweaked that night’s post for an hour. I’m not kidding.
Wasn’t I already as picky about wording as it’s possible to be?
Talking with Colleen or even just thinking about her inspires me.
You’re supposedly the average of the five people you spend the most time with. I’ve only met Colleen in person once and I don’t know her very well at all. What I do know, though, makes me want to do a better job at life.
Because you only get the one...
Is there really no such thing as a stupid question?
April 21, 2014
The light we just bought -- the one that’ll help me apply makeup in even the most dimly-lit hotel bathrooms -- was anchored to a sturdy piece of cardboard backing with contraptions that took Darrell a while to assess.
“Do they have instructions for freeing the light from the cardboard? On the back of it, maybe?” I asked. Then I realized how silly that would be. Darrell agreed. But if they did, he guessed they’d be under a heading that read: “How to Steal This.”
When I was little I submitted a question to a national newspaper column that catered to curious kids. “Why the ‘T’ in T-shirt?” not only made the column but rated a headline in my hometown paper: “Omahan learns why of ‘T’ in T-shirt.” Which inspired so many other questions. Like what the heck I’d been thinking. What did I think the T stood for? What? And if I was so curious, why didn’t I just ask someone a little more worldly? A baby brother or sister, perhaps.
During the talk show I once asked a career consultant who’s also a triathlete if the Ironman is a year-round sport. He was gracious as he explained you don’t do Ironmans in the northeastern part of the country in the winter. Then it hit me, how difficult it is to swim through ice.
Darrell thinks a willingness to ask the silly questions is essential for a talk show host. What’s silly to one person, after all, is often what the next person would ask -- if he wasn’t afraid of embarrassing himself.
A question about cow sex comes to mind. It wasn’t something I’d posed on the talk show, thankfully. It was on the way to California several years ago. Darrell fielded one question after another as we made our way across the desert, and Katie was enchanted. The laughter kept building until my big finale, at which point Darrell bent over the steering wheel and started laughing so hard I thought he’d never stop.
If you want to find out what I asked, let me know.
I hesitate to fill you in here.
It’s that silly.
photo courtesy of Katie Anderson
Do you ask good questions?
April 17, 2014
“Why don’t they just water ski somewhere else?”
“They’re doing it on purpose,” he said. “They’re demonstrating, in a lighthearted way, how pervasive the species has become.”