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Coffee Shop Confessions

Author

Phil Hanks

Chicken Strips and the Meaning of Life

The truest thing I’ve ever heard came from the least likely of sources. Being a teacher you might expect the source was a pre-pubescent junior higher. But you would be wrong. It could have been from a brilliant self-help guru who frequents late night infomercials. And let me just say, late night infomercial self-help gurus understand their demo. Everything sounds good late at night, even selling your body and soul to the deliciously addictive late night menu at Taco Bell. Yet, it was not these masters of manipulation.
There are very few transcendent moments when you’re a carny. About the only moment of revelation you’d expect is the one where you finally realize you’re a carny. Things pretty much take their own course from there. But this moment was different than others. This moment was lacking in the typical self-loathing and utter lack of awareness which comes with your daily duties (I was a carny for pretty much the entire Bush administration.). There wasn’t even a hint of marijuana on his breath as he uttered this truth. Mark looked at me and said, “the greatest joy in life is having something to look forward to.”
I tried to utter something deep and thoughtful. I forced a pretty decent “yeah, man” out and tried to look like I was pondering my existence. With furrowed brow I nodded my assent. Really I was just thinking about those chicken strips I was about to assault my stomach with at lunch. If looking forward to something was the measure of joy, then you could call my life’s biggest cheerleader. Except take away the pom-poms and replace them with a tray of chicken strips and some barbecue sauce.
This moment has played itself over in my head many times. Yet try as I might – and I’ve even sought professional, mental assistance – I haven’t been able to erase the image of me in an awful 90’s striped polo. Children of today have no clue just how real the struggle truly was. But even more powerful than the fate of 90’s style was the seeming truth of his statement. Having something to look forward to always seemed to make life more fun, dare I say more meaningful.
Fast forward a few years and I am introduced to an author by the name of Viktor Frankl. Now I wasn’t physically introduced to him, but I recently heard that you should surround yourself with people you want to go towards (to become like). So I surround myself with the greats of history and treat them as friends. The downside is that since most of them are dead I’m usually left to pay the bill at dinner. But it’s a sacrifice you’re willing to make. Some of us just have to buy friends.
If you don’t know, Frankl survived the holocaust. How did he do it? He found and pursued meaning. In the midst of one the darkest times in human history Frankl was able to see beyond the pain, suffering, and death that was his constant companion. Not only did he find meaning in the midst of senseless slaughter, but the Nazis put him in charge of convincing other victims not to take their own lives. How do you convince men in the concentration camps of Auschwitz not to commit suicide? You give them meaning. At the hands of the Nazis, their deaths would serve a greater purpose. Your life didn’t feel meaningful, but at least your death could be.
I don’t know if Mark was familiar with Viktor Frankl. But the truth he laid down for me all those years ago became perfectly illuminated in the life and work of Frankl. Frankl said that the purpose of our lives is to pursue meaning. It is only when we don’t have meaning to pursue that we substitute with pleasures.
Who am I to question his wisdom? He challenged Freud and survived Hitler. I only survived 90’s fashion – and barely at that. It’s finally time to put those chicken strips down. It’s time to find my meaning.

My Mustache brings all the Girls to the Yard

Coffee Shop Confessions

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Here we are in one of the most magical months of the twelve month cycle. It’s a season of pumpkin pie consumption, alluring red coffee sleeves from Starbucks, and being thankful for gluttony. But more than any of these reasons (Because I’m American, and am therefore allowed to arbitrarily rank things however I wish) is that we get to enjoy the preferred nut of cultured men everywhere, the mustaccio.

A brief walk through history is all one need take to see the warmth of the mustache fire which men are inexplicably drawn to. It is a transcender of race and culture, bringing people together across borders and even oceans. Just look at photos of the Big Three from World War II – Stalin, FDR, and Churchill. Of the three of them, who looks the most comfortable and friendly? Stalin. Would we make a deal with an angry communist? I think…

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Talking is hard. Dating is Tricky. Burritos are cheap.

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Staring a conversation with a complete stranger is difficult work. That’s why speed dating was once popular, and online dating is such a hit. Instead of having to go on a blind date (which, outside of staving off nuclear war in the 60’s, is about the most uncomfortable and difficult thing ever), through the magical power of the interweb you are given a chance to ease into the conversation. At least, if nothing else, you’ll know whether they’re a cat or dog person and what their body type was once upon a time. (I DEFINITELY have an athletic body! Or at least did when I was 9.5 years old. That still counts, right?) You might also get a chance to see something that resembles what they have looked like at some point in the past decade or so. (In a related story, Photoshop recently wins the Dating Tool of the Year Award!)

At least when you show up for a date these days you have some idea of who the person at least claims to be, or at least who they would like to be in an ideal world. So at least you have pieces to try to put together in that particular conversational puzzle. Sure there are times when you wonder if – like many high school students throughout history – they just got someone else to write their paper for them. Or maybe just not everyone knows the meaning of the words “outgoing and people person.” At any rate dating now has become more user-friendly, because the task of creating a conversation out of thin air has been alleviated. Dating sites are the cliff notes of the modern age. And all the social slackers of the world rejoice!

Yet, for those of us who have a difficult time talking to members of the opposite gender (We all have cooties, just time to embrace it. Science will catch up someday.) there are plenty of blogs and sites offering advice on discussion topics. Typically they come in the form of questions. And if a question has formed in your mind and that question is: how do you know about these sites? The answer lies inside the first sentence of my blog post. Words are hard; that’s why there’s Snapchat.(Plus you can make your hair all the exotic colors you’ve always wanted them to be, without fear of your mom yelling at you or staining your scalp.) Many of these questions seem to be pretty good at getting the conversation going. Questions like:

What’s your favorite place in the entire world? (You can tell whether they’re adventurous or they just Google the wrong stuff.)

or

What’s your favorite way to spend a Saturday? (This is very informative as to their interests, but it’s also a great way to gauge how well the date is going. For instance, if you’re on a date with this person on Saturday and they answer some other activity, then you’d better either step up your game or get the check and get home in time for SNL – it hasn’t been that great lately, but apparently neither was your date.)

At the same time there are many sites who seem to think – like many elementary children – that there is no such thing as a dumb question. Let’s all be honest here for a moment; dumb questions exist in the world. If you work around or with people in any way, you are probably quite familiar with the various forms these dumb questions come in. Here are a few questions that particularly struck my idiotic fancy:

Do you Believe in Aliens? Clearly you need to find the right moment to throw this gem out there. “Hey, how is that salad? It looks really green. Speaking of green, do you believe in aliens?” Or “This water is delicious. Hey did you ever see ‘Signs?’ Bruce Willis killed aliens in it with water. Do you believe in aliens? And if so, do you leave glasses of water randomly lying around your house just in case aliens are allergic to water?” Awkward silence….”No, me neither.” Check Please.

If you just won $1 million what would you do with it? Only ask this question if you’ve taken her to a nice restaurant. Cause if not, the only appropriate response to this question is, “date guys who don’t take me to Olive Garden.”

What are the ingredients of your ideal burrito? Once again, know your terrain. If you’re at a Mexican restaurant chances are they already ordered their ideal burrito, and this line of questioning only indicates how unobservant you are. Plus, let’s just be honest; burritos improve the likelihood of causing gas (that’s just science), so why would you bring up flatulence on a first date? May as well ask, “Hey, do you ever light your farts on fire?”

Where exactly do you live in (insert city here)? At this point do you hand them your phone and have them put their address into your phone so it makes it easier to stalk them later? Creeper alert! And definitely don’t follow up with “I’ve lost my address, can I have yours?”

Are you as tired of KimYe as I am? (Admittedly I had to look up exactly who “KimYe” was.) If they answer YES, then there’s really nowhere to go. They just said they’re tired of talking about KimYe. Smooth. But of all the dumb conversation starters, this one did have one of the nicest added benefits. If they do actually answer NO, then you know it’s time to get home before the SNL cold open. Only to find out KimYe is hosting….There’s no justice in the world.

Do you have any specialty cooking dishes? First, there is no juicer topic than dishware to get that conversation rolling – except for possibly talking about various rock formations. (If I were to really be honest, I’m more of a metamorphic rock kind of guy myself. I hope she’s open-minded.)  Second, be wary of questions with limiting answer fields. The only appropriate answer to this question is: “Yes, I’ve got a frying pan. I use it as a weapon to ward off bad guys and save princesses.”

What is the last kind of vegetable you would ever want to be? (I’m honestly not making these up.) Answer: “The kind that isn’t stuck here on this date with you. At least if I were a vegetable there is a chance someone would eat me, and I wouldn’t have to answer these stupid questions.”

At the end of the day, talking to people can be hard. But be original. Be you. Even if you have to talk about Dungeons & Dragons all night – and please don’t talk about Dungeons & Dragons all night! – talk about the things that interest you. They’re either going to be interested in you or not. And if they’re not, I’m sure a new online dating site will be stalking you on your Facebook feed tomorrow. Apparently when God closes a door He opens an app.

an old man and his horse

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Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village. Although poor, he was envied by all, for he owned a beautiful white horse. Even the king coveted his treasure. A horse like this had never been seen before – such was its splendor, its majesty, its strength.

People offered fabulous prices for the steed, but the old man always refused. “This horse is not a horse to me,” he would tell them. “It is a person. How could you sell a person? He is a friend, not a possession. How could you sell a friend.” The man was poor and the temptation was great. But he never sold the horse.

One morning he found that the horse was not in his stable. All the village came to see him. “You old fool,” they scoffed, “we told you that someone would steal your horse. We warned you that you would be robbed. You are so poor. How could you ever protect such a valuable animal? It would have been better to have sold him. You could have gotten whatever price you wanted. No amount would have been too high. Now the horse is gone and you’ve been cursed with misfortune.”
The old man responded, “Don’t speak too quickly. Say only that the horse is not in the stable. That is all we know; the rest is judgment. If I’ve been cursed or not, how can you know? How can you judge?”
The people contested, “Don’t make us out to be fools! We may not be philosophers, but great philosophy is not needed. The simple fact that your horse is gone is a curse.”

The old man spoke again. “All I know is that the stable is empty, and the horse is gone. The rest I don’t know. Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I can’t say. All we can see is a fragment. Who can say what will come next?”
The people of the village laughed. They thought that the man was crazy. They had always thought he was a fool; if he wasn’t, he would have sold the horse and lived off the money. But instead, he was a poor woodcutter, and old man still cutting firewood and dragging it out of the forest and selling it. He lived hand to mouth in the misery of poverty. Now he had proven that he was, indeed, a fool.

After fifteen days, the horse returned. He hadn’t been stolen; he had run away into the forest. Not only had he returned, he had brought a dozen wild horses with him. Once again, the village people gathered around the woodcutter and spoke. “Old man, you were right and we were wrong. What we thought was a curse was a blessing. Please forgive us.”
The man responded, “Once again, you go too far. Say only that the horse is back. State only that a dozen horses returned with him, but don’t judge. How do you know if this is a blessing or not? You see only a fragment. Unless you know the whole story, how can you judge? You read only one page of a book. Can you judge the whole book? You read only one word of one phrase. Can you understand the entire phrase?”

“Life is so vast, yet you judge all of life with one page or one word. All you have is one fragment! Don’t say that this is a blessing. No one knows. I am content with what I know. I am not perturbed by what I don’t.”

“Maybe the old man is right,” they said to one another. So they said little. But down deep, they knew he was wrong. They knew it was a blessing. Twelve wild horses had returned. With a little work, the animals could be broken and trained and sold for much money.

The old man had a son, an only son. The young man began to break the wild horses. After a few days, he fell from one of the horses and broke both legs. Once again the villagers gathered around the old man and cast their judgments.

“You were right,” they said. “You proved you were right. The dozen horses were not a blessing. They were a curse. Your only son has broken both his legs, and now in your old age you have no one to help you. Now you are poorer than ever.”
The old man spoke again. “You people are obsessed with judging. Don’t go so far. Say only that my son broke his legs. Who knows if it is a blessing or a curse? No one knows. We only have a fragment. Life comes in fragments.”

It so happened that a few weeks later the country engaged in war against a neighboring country. All the young men of the village were required to join the army. Only the son of the old man was excluded, because he was injured. Once again the people gathered around the old man, crying and screaming because their sons had been taken. There was little chance that they would return. The enemy was strong, and the war would be a losing struggle. They would never see their sons again.

“You were right, old man,” They wept. “God knows you were right. This proves it. Your son’s accident was a blessing. His legs may be broken, but at least he is with you. Our sons are gone forever.”

The old man spoke again. “It is impossible to talk with you. You always draw conclusions. No one knows. Say only this. Your sons had to go to war, and mine did not. No one knows if it is a blessing or a curse. No one is wise enough to know. Only God knows.”

Peanut Butter Story Time

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Some days life is a mystery. A Rubik cube of experiences. A series of sounds, colors, sights, peanut butter sandwiches, and moments of grandeur and desperation. A conundrum, mixed with a dash of euphoria, wrapped in a warm layer of “I should’ve seen that one coming.” Then I eat some delicious dark chocolate truffles, and all is well.

Donald Miller says that life is like a story. The things that make a story worth reading/watching is also what drives a good life. And far be it from me to argue with Don. He wrote a movie about Jazz and a book about Dragons, so by American standards he’s the type of person you listen to. I mean, maybe not Kardashian level of expertise yet, but I’m sure once people figure out he can whisper to Dragons he might get his own reality TV show.

“A story is a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it” (A Million Miles in a Thousand Years). I hate this statement…because it’s true. As a character in my own storyline, I tend to fluctuate roles. And I suppose that is fairly normal and even healthy sometimes. Static characters are about as exciting as eating Cream of Wheat for breakfast every morning. Every character needs a little Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms thrown into the mix.

Some moments I’m the knight on a shining white horse…who never makes it out of the stable, because he realizes he doesn’t even own a horse. So if I’m riding a horse that probably means it’s stolen. Then I’d spend most of the narrative arc in a dungeon somewhere. I’m assuming the kind of mice that inhabit dungeons don’t tend to sing and make nifty outfits for their new roomies. And driving boldly towards a beautiful girl in a car doesn’t tend to have the same effect as a sturdy steed. One is supposed to set the heart aflutter and is a catalyst to romance, while the other tends to simply awaken one’s fight or flight reflexes. A visit from the boys in blue is also well within the realm of possibility. See previous statement about prison and its decided lack of musical entertainment.

There are days where I’m the comic relief. Now, every great tale needs someone along to keep things from getting too serious – think Chris Tucker or Vince Vaughn in every movie they’ve ever been in. At the same time the comic relief is also the one who tends to get shot at the most in movies, many times deservedly so. And, sure, they tend to not get hit, but every now and then they do tend to get shot in the butt. Comical? Yes. Worth it? TBD.

And then there’s the villain. We all want to believe that we’re the good guy in our own stories. The Damsels in Distress will swoon when I come to rescue them from air pollution, bad hair days, or whatever the equivalent to villainous acts are in the “real world,” right? Yet, if I were truly honest with myself – which I don’t recommend doing on too frequent a basis; we can’t do all of our therapists work for them – I would have to admit to some villainy in my blood. Not in the “I’m gonna take over the world” or “steal all your puppies” kind of way. (On a side note, I wonder how much we would have hated Cruella as a character if she only stole the puppies to cuddle with them. I think we’d feel much more conflicted about her as a character. Just saying.) No, more in the way that I tend to get in the way of the storyline fulfilling its truest level of happiness and resolution. Within us all lies the power to block happy endings.

A friend asked me the other day if I was living the story I want to. Having read many philosophical-type books on what it meant to live a good life, been a teacher instructing the next generation on how to live a good life/change the world, and had an almost healthy obsession with reality TV shows like the Bachelor – where people simultaneously pursue happiness and the perfect make-out technique – this was an easy one to answer. A softball lobbed over the plate. Or at least it should have been. (If you’ve seen me play softball, you would understand why. I was frequently stuck in Right Field. Nuf said.) Yet, I couldn’t give a confident “yes” response.

This got me thinking, which worried me even more. It didn’t send me into a deep spiral or anything – there wasn’t even any Ben & Jerry’s involved. Rather, it set me to writing. (You see I can’t actually afford that therapist I told you about earlier. So I’m going to spill my guts to the magical interweb as my therapy. Either that or Al Gore gets so fed up with me abusing his interweb that he pays for my therapy sessions. I’d say it’s a coin-flip.) You see, come to find out I really do believe that life is filled with characters who want things and overcome conflict to get them.

They say – and I always listen to people whose first name start with “th,” like Theodore Roosevelt – that understanding you have a problem is the first step to recovery. So this is my first step. My moment of awakening. An inciting incident? Only time will tell. I want to live a better story. I can live a better story. The pen is in my hand.

I’m off to decide what kind of character I want to be…wish me luck.

Hello!

My CWI class just started up their own blog. Check them out and join in the convo!

Spud News

We are the Christian Center School Current World Issues class. We have created this blog to join in the world’s conversation. Feel free to comment and ask questions! Enlightenment is good for everyone.

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Twitter is the new Yoda

 

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Life is hard. But fortunately finding answers to some of life’s most difficult questions is just a thumb-type away. With the advent of technology, now I have a steady stream of information coming at me every split second, on the split second. Sure the information is varied, but obviously necessary – from Bieber’s new makeup style, to the Loch Ness Monster, to a kid getting suspended for asking out Ms. America. There’s no shortage of information at my fingertips, and thus no longer any need to wonder about life’s mysteries. Odds are someone’s already told me what I need to know on Twitter, Facebook, or Wikipedia before I ever needed to answer the question.

So today, instead of going Thinking Man-style and actually pondering life’s big issues, I’m going to look to the experts at Al Gore’s magical interweb of truth. I mean, they wrote it down so it must be true.

One thing I’ve noticed recently is that a lot of people are looking to the experts of Twitter to answer questions and give evidential support on difficult topics. From talk shows, to sports broadcasters, and advertisements – even the news is looking for the professional word-ists of Twitter for help – professionals are citing ordinary people like you and I. We don’t even have to get out of our jammies to be smart. So if these Tweeters are good enough for CNN and ESPN, then they must be the shaman to whom I will seek to be Padawan. It just makes sense; Twitter is the new Yoda.

So my question for the gatekeepers of written word and wisdom is: what is he meaning of life? It seems a simple enough question to start off with, and one that I’m assured they will be able to answer in less than 140 characters. Yoda’s wisdom was short and oddly insightful – and he never wrote, so we can’t be sure if he meant “u” or “you” – and these mind-masters of the modern age have clearly identified brevity as the quickest and clearest path to enlightenment. Who am I to question? Clearly I’ve already used more than 140 characters, so my wisdom is lacking. Therefore I seek the truth of the masters.

The first think I noticed is that I don’t even have to type the full question. As I mentioned before, these sultans of succinct have already delved into life’s issues long ago. Now these transformative answers just sit there in the vastness of space, accessible to all who travel at the speed of information – AKA “know how to use Google.” But all one need type in is “#meaningoflife.” It is minimalist majesty at its very finest. And for your benefit, here are the lessons I’ve learned:

One venerable teacher tells me that life is about pizza. This delights me to no end, because pizza has played a significant role – from appetizer, to entrée, to dessert – in at least 80% of my recent meals. I feel both enlightened and hungry for more…knowledge – and pizza. The mark of a true educator is the ability to instill interest and the desire to pursue understanding. As Liz Lemon once wisely said, “I would like to go to there.” And I have. Frequently. Well played.

Another such response shows me a picture of a young girl cuddling and petting a baby elephant. This both frustrates and gives me vision. I am not, nor have I ever been, a little girl or baby elephant. Yet, with the recent developments in science I am also not 100% positive that one day I cannot be either or both at the same time. Unless playing The Sims counts.

Yet again, I was presented with a picture representing the meaning of life. This time it was a cute kitten sitting atop a chair – as regal and wise-looking as a sage on a mountaintop – staring at a table, pondering the meaning of life. I can only assume that the meaning of life exists somewhere on that table. I have only to find the table, and I am quite certain the meaning of life will become clear. I Tweeted the owner of the kitten for his address so that I could come visit and learn from his cat. I’m sure to receive a response shortly.

Digging deeper into the abyss of insight and mental mastery, I find a great many pictures of food items. These items include: KFC sandwiches, carrot cake, and cracker jacks. With over one-third of America being obese, it appears that most of us have truly discovered the meaning of life. (I do not believe any of these posts were from China, so I’m sure that most of the cute kittens were not also used in the making of the KFC sandwiches. Though I could not be certain.)

Having waded through the photographic depictions of life’s meaning, I found some actual statements of truth:
“Asking the Meaning of life is like asking the square root of a zebra.” Which is difficult because I don’t have my graphing calculator on me; nor do I know the chemical equation for a zebra. This wisdom thing really is hard.

“I had a pretzel from pretzel world I feel like I ingested the meaning of life.” The meaning of life is so important that it must be guarded at all costs. It’s like taking a cyanide capsule to protect secrets. (At this point I’m hoping the meaning of life is not the elephant. That’s more wisdom than I feel capable of consuming in one sitting.)

“I’ve discovered the meaning of life, but it’s over 140 characters.” Clearly she hasn’t worked out how to condense truth’s to nibble-sized bites yet. But it’s great to see that she’s on the right path.

“The meaning of life is 2 look hot in selfies.” It was at this point I realized how truly deep and varied the pursuit of truth could be. Therefore, I must enter the realm of Instagram to continue my quest.

And that’s the meaning of life, as clear and as plain as Twitter can be understood. I will continue my quest, and one day I will work to condense all the wisdom I’ve gleaned down to 140 characters or less. Then I will consume it.

Even Dead Batteries have a Plus Side

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It occurred to me recently that there are actual lessons to be learned from history. This was a crushing blow to me, a history teacher, because now I feel responsible for teaching my students life lessons. Not only do I need to teach them random pieces of trivia to make them successful with standardized tests, Trivial Pursuit, and hanging out with Alex Trebek, but I might need to teach them things that could actually improve their lives and general well-being.

After sitting around sucking on some lemons – which, for the record, tastes much worse than actual lemonade – I decided to turn the frown upside down. (I also realized turning lemons into lemon meringue pie is a much more sound decision.) Plus, the wisdom thunderbolt came from Facebook. This makes it therefore irrefutable, and surely in line with all the great thinkers of history.

Obviously, before I can try teaching life in a classroom it must be shared in the social media world. Isn’t the whole world a classroom? You can read Wikipedia pretty much anywhere, so this feels true. Knowing that we’re supposed to learn inspiring lessons from the past, I rethought a few historic figures and their significance. So here are lessons about overcoming apparent obstacles. With any luck, no fewer than 3 of them will be turned into After School Specials.

Aristotle was somehow able to build quite the following without the benefit of social media or reality television. You have to admit that is pretty overwhelming. Not only that, he had to communicate in complete sentences, and couldn’t use hashtags or boost his posts to make it seem like his ideas were popular. It’s almost as if logically sound ideas had value in and of themselves, and that true depth and thought was more significant than being famous for just being famous. And even with no “post history” for us to inspect and “like”, we still know who he is. A true zero to hero tale if I’ve ever heard one.

Napoleon Bonaparte was able to conquer a big chunk of the modern world with only one hand. He was reaching into his vest pocket, probably to snag some of the chocolate he swiped from Switzerland, when it got permanently stuck. And this wasn’t just any hand, but the right one. Take a look at any photo of him later in life, and you’ll see what I mean. It’s no wonder that he almost never retreated as a commander. He only had one hand, so he could only point in one direction. He chose forward, which is a lesson that practically takes care of itself. And thank goodness he didn’t live in a culture that wouldn’t shake his left hand because of what it was used for. (Even though that would surely make him a more sympathetic and triumphant figure.)

John Adams didn’t really have any friends, but somehow he got himself elected president. Not so bad when even your best friends, like Thomas Jefferson, stop talking to you, yet you can somehow get over half the US population to think you’re pretty alright. Not even “alright,” but the best they could do. With his abrasive personality, Adams was even able to get a smart, sexy woman to marry him and make future presidents together. So just remember John Adams when you’re sitting at home alone, unsuccessfully trying to get people to follow you on Twitter. You’re doing it, and you’re doing it well. Isolation and loneliness are the keys to success.

William Shakespeare will go down as possibly the greatest writer of all time, but what’s often forgotten is his lack of ability to spell. He personally made up over 3,000 words which we now count as part of the English language. This clearly stemmed from his lack of ability to spell many words properly. So instead of improperly spelling words, he would create new ones, which the reader then felt silly for not understanding. This is just a classic case of reverse-psychology and a stroke of genius on his part. There’s a lot to be learned from Shakespeare –not just about avoiding dating a girl who is going to try to poison you – and clearly we have. Why I have seen more than a few students in my day who I couldn’t understand half the words they used. But what I once rejected as weakness, I now embrace as brilliance.

Finally, Henry VIII cannot be overlooked. Here was a man who was clearly not lacking for want of a good meal. Many of us have struggled with weight issues – certainly this close to the holiday season – and Henry stands as a glistening inspiration to us all. Here he had a waist size of 58 inches, yet was still able to get 6 women to marry him. And these were not just any average kitchen wenches mind you. No, he was able to get princesses and noblewomen from loaded families to tie the knot. So take a page from Henry’s book, and make sure it’s a page of deliciously rich and fatty foods. It has been said, and it is true, that the way to a man’s heart is through his belly, but the tale of Henry VIII clearly shows that the way to a woman’s heart is his belly.

So go forth and turn your obstacles into opportunities. Like the great men of old, let the things that would have once held you back now free you to become legendary. As my good friend Patrick says, “even dead batteries have a plus side.” So find your plus side today, and make sure to turn those plus sides into lemon meringue pies like the good Lord intended.

In His own Words

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Martin Luther King Jr pleaded with us to make the world a better place. Raised in a world that must have felt overwhelming and ultimately uncontrollable, he taught us to stand and fight. Not just to fight because we feel we can win, but because it is right to stand. Today we give special remembrance to a man who changed the world with his passion, rhetoric, and reason. And ultimately it was his faith in the goodness that existed within mankind which gave rise to the society that we now have. He fought for the dream that we now get to live a piece of, yet, continually fight to maintain and promote.

Here are just a few quotes that have inspired me along my own journey – and there are just so many incredible phrases to choose from:

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude.”

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

“A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on an installment plan.”

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” 

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