One Person’s Struggle is Another Person’s Dream

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off nicely.

I always say “good morning” but that’s just from my perspective. For some of you, the workday is half over and some of you are getting ready to climb into bed. That could be due to your work schedule or your location on this planet. It’s nice to know my words reach people literally around the world each day. It’s also very humbling.

As I write each morning, I try to think about the words and phrases I use and remind myself that not everybody in the world understands exactly what I mean. A co-worker from another country once asked me to explain what “Hump Day” means. It’s easy to assume everyone knows it means the half-way point in the week. But I’m sure somebody had to explain it to me once. Then it made sense.

We all approach life from different perspectives. Some were born to privilege and thought everybody had a swimming pool and tennis courts in the back yard. Others were born on the other side of the tracks, and to them, a swimming pool was any body of water bigger than a bathtub. It’s just a matter of what we’ve come to accept as everyday life.

The same is true on the job. To me, a hard day is working through challenging issues and people who don’t respond to email. To another person, it’s coming home with sore muscles from too much physical labor. And, as a comedian once reminded me after I’d suffered a particularly brutal show, to a cop, a bad night at work means he’s got people shooting at him. It’s all a matter of perspective.

I remember once when I was being sent to Chicago to do some work for my company. I had requested a cash advance to cover my travel expenses, because I didn’t have any extra money in the bank. I asked several times during the day, and my request fell on deaf ears. Finally, I told them to make sure I was booked in a hotel with a restaurant so I could charge my meals to my room. I was broke.

The manager who was sending me on the trip said, “Just charge it to your credit card and we’ll reimburse you when you get back.” That’s great for some people, but I didn’t have a credit card. At that point in my life, no bank was stupid enough to give me one. When I told him I didn’t have one, he gave me an incredulous look and said, “You don’t even have a Master Card?”

I found out last Friday that my job may be ending in a couple of months. I’ve known for a while this day may be coming, and I have to admit it’s been a little difficult adjusting to that reality. Then I went to church Sunday and we were asked to pray for two women in a rehabilitation center, and one whose brother suddenly passed away last week. All of a sudden, my problems began to shrink.

It goes along with the old saying about a man who was sad because he had no shoes until he met a man who had no feet. No matter how bad we think we’ve got it, somebody else has it worse. I try to remind myself of that in the morning when traffic suddenly comes to a halt because of an accident. Sure, it’s an inconvenience. But somebody’s day is starting off a whole lot worse than mine.

It works the other way as well. When we’ve worked to achieve a certain level of success, whether it’s on the job, as a parent, as an athlete, or even as a writer, it’s easy to get a little smug and think we’re special. We find ourselves in the presence of others who aren’t quite as accomplished as we are, and we puff our chest out just a little further. Life is good, and we have a right to be proud.

It’s good to be proud of our accomplishments. But if we allow that to go too far, it’s easy to overlook the reality that some who have accomplished much less have worked every bit as hard as we have, if not harder. If effort alone could make a person successful, every plumber and mechanic would be rich, and corporate executives would be sweating out this month’s bills.

Most of us go through life only truly understanding our own perspective. We think we know what it’s like for others, but we really don’t. Even if you’ve been at rock bottom, it’s easy to forget how that feels when you’re back on top. And it’s easier still to assume everybody else can climb up as quickly as you did. And it’s just as easy for them to assume you got all the lucky breaks.

Perspective is an amazing thing. The same rays of sun can tan the skin and damage crops. It’s just a matter of how we look at it.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

It Takes a Single Drop to Begin Filling a Bucket

Good morning! I hope you all had a nice weekend and your day is off to a great start.

Today is my youngest grandson’s birthday. He’s four. To the rest of us, he’s a little boy with his whole life ahead of him. He’s got lots of growing to do, and lots of things to learn. But from his perspective, this is the oldest he’s ever been. He feels all grown up, because he really has no other basis for comparison. Especially if he looks at how grown up his grandpa is. We’re not so different.

And I like it that way. I’ve always said that aging is inevitable, but growing old is a matter of choice. I can’t turn back the clock no matter how badly some of my body parts wish I could. But I don’t have to let the years control my personality. People always like to say “act your age.” Well, I don’t wanna! So there!

Age is relevant only from the perspective of how many years we’ve been on this planet, and how many more years we may have left. It’s a measure of experience. My car insurance company likes my age. I’ve been driving long enough to slow down a little and not make so many stupid mistakes. My health insurance company, on the other hand, isn’t quite so thrilled. They wish I was a little younger.

It’s all a matter of perspective. I remember at the age of twenty, calling my supervisor an old man. He had to be pushing 27 at the time. I laugh today when I think about that because, with 62 only a few months away, I realize that even this isn’t really old. Or maybe I’m just kidding myself. That’s okay. I choose not to be old. I just wish my body would just step up and play along.

Perspective is important, because it’s what allows us to form a basis for comparison. I make a decent living, and we don’t really worry about day-to-day expenses. In fact, according to some, we’re doing pretty well. But we went into an upscale grocery store not long ago and, looking at the prices of “dry-aged” steak, I began to feel just a little impoverished. Do people really pay that much for food?

But to a person making a little more than I do, it’s no big deal. They buy what they want because they can. And here’s the thing – that meat is at least three times as expensive as anything in my grocery store, but I doubt many of those people make three times as much as I do. They don’t have to. They just have to make a little extra.

If your employer offered you an extra $200 a month, you’d feel pretty good. Because, if the bills are paid and things are going well, an extra $200 would let you buy that fancy steak once in a while. It would let you order what you want off the menu instead of what your wallet says you should eat. It might even let you take an extra vacation each year.

Now, what if there was a string attached – you get the extra money, but you have to work an extra hour every day. Hmmm.  An extra hour every day, and there are 22 workdays in a month – that’s not even $10 an hour! Now that extra $200 isn’t sounding so great. It’s all about perspective. You look at the hourly rate and suddenly forget all the extra freedom it could bring.

But what if that extra money was just the start? What if you gained the skills necessary to double that extra income in a month or so? Now your perspective may be changing a little. Because if you can take a little extra and double it, what’s to stop you from doubling that as well? All of a sudden, the issue isn’t how much you get paid – it’s how much you can earn.  

To most of us, a year is a pretty short amount of time. To my grandson, it’s a fourth of his life. To most of us, $30,000 a year isn’t much to brag about. But to somebody already making that much, an extra $15,000 would change everything. And to a person making ten times that much, it may not even be worth the extra effort. Perspective.

When you look at where you are, where you want to be may seem a long way off. But even a small step in the right direction puts you closer. Keep taking those steps and the time will come when the distance you’ve covered is more than the distance that’s left. And one day, it’ll only take one more little step to reach your goal. Same effort, same distance each time. But what a difference it’ll make.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Keeping a Healthy Perspective

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is off to a great start.

Yesterday I had a follow-up appointment with one of the surgeons who messed around with my brain last year. I keep saying I came away with no lasting effects, but there are some who aren’t so sure. I make the most of it. Every time I forget something I just say, “That must’ve been in the part they cut off.”

Well, the verdict is in and my brain is just as intact as it was before the surgery. That, in itself, should be the greater source of concern. I’ve always been a little “out there.” The only negative effect, and it’s not from the surgery itself or even the condition that led to the surgery, is my right ear still has issues. Otherwise, I’m in pretty good shape.

I was reading an article yesterday about an interesting trend in health, or at least in our perception of health. In surveys, an increasing number of people my age rate their overall health as “good” or even “excellent.” And mind you, very few of those people are without health problems or physical limitations. Some are even battling cancer. Yet they still feel like their overall health is really good.

Younger people, on the other hand, are a little less optimistic about their health. In fact, an increasing percentage of them rate their health as “acceptable” or even “poor.” These are people who, for the most part, have never faced a life-threatening condition. Yet they don’t feel as healthy as people twice their age. Why do you think that is?

It’s all about perception. The older people aren’t any healthier – they just accept some of life’s aches and pains with a little more grace. When you reach my age, you go to bed earlier and wake up tired. Joints crack and pop. Daily discomfort is par for the course. You can’t run around the block and bending over makes you dizzy. That’s life.

But it’s something we accept, because we expect it. We know that, as we get older, our bodies won’t look or feel like the body of a twenty-year-old. So, when somebody asks about our health, we don’t make that comparison. Instead, we compare it to the perception we once had of people our age. You know – back when we were twenty and thought sixty was ancient.

But when you’re in your twenties or early thirties, and begin to feel the early effects of age, it’s all new and comes as somewhat of a surprise. You’re used to feeling perfect all the time, and sore joints, lower energy, and the occasional headache make you feel … well, old. Worse yet, you know this is just the start. And trust me, it is.

I think most people my age would pay good money to wake up each day feeling as “bad” as we did thirty years ago. But we know those days are long gone, so we adapt and make the most of what’s left. Instead of lamenting the fact that we can no longer run a 100-yard dash in 12 seconds, we’re happy to be able to walk from one end of a beach to the other.

It’s all about perspective. You’re as healthy as you feel. I’ve seen people much older than me fighting a terminal illness with full acceptance of their eventual fate, and when you ask how they’re feeling they smile and say, “I feel great!” It’s not a lie, and they’re not delusional. They’ve just come to terms with the fact that you don’t have to feel perfect – you make the most of what you’ve got.

This isn’t intended to be a slam on younger people. I remember that age, and thinking my aches and pains were a sign of rapidly declining health. Worse yet, I adjusted my lifestyle to accommodate my perceived infirmities. And, along with the physical changes, I allowed myself to grow old way before my time. I was grumpy, opinionated, and generally pessimistic about the world in which we live.

Now, my wife will argue that the grumpiness hasn’t completely gone away, but overall, I feel a lot more positive about life than I did thirty years ago. Since that time, I’ve had a heart attack, a few surgeries, and a lot of lower back pain. I wear bifocals and hearing aids, and when my gout flares up, I have to use a cane. And yesterday my surgeon said I may eventually lose hearing in my right ear.

And you know what? I feel healthier today than I have in decades. I know my limitations, and I adjust my lifestyle to fit within those constraints. But aside from those little aches and pains, I feel great!

It’s been said that what we perceive to be real is real. If you feel old, you’re old. If you feel sick, you’re sick. And if you feel young and healthy, you’re … well, maybe a little less old, but still healthy.  It’s all about perspective. Make yours positive!

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved