A digital commonplace for a Regular Guy called Charlie Pharis

Month: August 2016 (page 1 of 1)



Tom Simpson via Compfight

This morning, I’m asking a lot of questions and not finding many answers. Questions like…

  • Am I just being lazy?
  • Am I due for a much needed break?
  • Am I avoiding responsibility?
  • Is there anything I’m missing?
  • Is there something I need to do next? Now? What is it?
  • What different things do I need to do?
  • What do I need to stop doing?
  • How can I improve my attitude?
  • Is the Cynical Old Coot the real me or is it a mask I once put on and can’t get off?
  • What if my best days are indeed behind me?
  • What do I do now?
  • How can I change my trajectory?
  • If I quit one of the side gigs, what would we do without the income?
  • Is the income from the side gigs worth the anxiety?
  • Is giving up the side gig income worth a different kind of anxiety?

Frederick Buechner says we often build castles to protect ourselves from others and the outside world. But we soon find those castles become the prisons of our own making, that hold us captive and restrict our freedom to function as we were intended and designed. He goes on to say that the simple words, “Help me” are the keys that open those gates, and release us to our better selves.

If that’s the case, then the questions may help us get to the place of asking for that help.

My Blessed Day…

Happy BollardCreative Commons License Jori Samonen via Compfight

What started out as a mundane Thursday turned out, before it was over, to be one of the best days I’ve had in a long time! Let me tell you about it…

I met a real! live! fireman! Yep, and not just any fireman. No sirree! It was Captain Tim Stowers of the Alpharetta Fire Department. He went out of his way to help me out of a sticky situation. I’m blessed Captain Stowers took the time to help.

Then I got to spend a little time with a new brother in Christ, named Joey. We had an interesting discussion about politics, salvation, the Bible, and African-American preacher heroes. I’m blessed I got to ride with Joey.

It didn’t stop there, because Joey took me to a place where I saw one of the most positive and inspiring people I know. Only this time, I saw her in a different environment than normal. She was her usual encouraging self, and I’m blessed because of her generosity.

While that might be enough to make any other day a blessed day, mine wasn’t done yet. I  met the next great veterinarian in the world. OK, not yet, but Ferdinand…I mean…DOCTOR Ferdinand is going to take Kennesaw State University by storm, and all the sick little exotic animals will one day be OK because he will be practicing his passion. Oh, and he had enough patience to act like he was listening to this old coot tell stories from his long distant past. I’m blessed because Dr. Ferdinand gave me a ride.

Ferdinand’s supervisor was a young man named Blake. Blake just got engaged to the love of his life, and he’s not planning to spend a lot of money on his wedding because he wants to take his princess on an amazing honeymoon and establish a great home for her.  I know all this because I got to share with Blake Life Axiom #3: Everybody and everything but the bride are props. I’m blessed because Blake did a great job at his job.

I met Kenny, who runs his shop like a pro.

I met a guy who was driving to take his special needs daughter (I think?) on a trip, partly for fun, but mostly for some specialized medical treatment.

And I met a guy who – according to Blake – had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer and who was checking off the items on his bucket list just as fast and with as much enthusiasm as he could muster. His bucket list was starting with Chick-Fil-A nuggets and sweet tea. I’m blessed because I got to walk in these people’s lives, for a few minutes at least.

Now here’s the best part. I wouldn’t have had the blessed day I had today had everything gone smoothly as planned. See, this all started when my car – the one with 316,000+ miles on it – suddenly stopped as I was driving down the road. Just stopped. Dead. In traffic, on a busy road.

Captain Stowers was behind me. I met him when he stopped to help and we pushed my car out of the road to a wide, flat place. Traffic kept moving and there was no big scene. He tried to jump start my car, with no success. After I assured him I had someone on the way, he left. But he blessed my life today.

Joey was the tow truck driver that changed his schedule so he could give me a hand,  a ride, and a break. Joey blessed my life today.

Clara Mae runs AAMCO with her husband, Gus. I see them about three mornings a week at one of my side gigs. They are great people, they do good work, and are patient and gracious with their time and energy. Clara Mae blessed my life today. Again.

Ferdinand was the young driver who picked me up and carried me to the car rental place so I could get home. He told me about his dream of going to school as a biology major so he could become a veterinarian specializing in exotic animals. He listened to my tales of my own rental car career, which included a Sunday morning encounter with then-heavyweight champion of the world, Leon Spinks. Ferdinand blessed my life today.

Blake ran the counter at the car rental outfit. And he seemed to be really good at his job. Kenny was the manager of the place and he led his team with effectiveness and efficiency. And they blessed my life today.

The bucket list guy blessed my life because someone else told me his story. His enthusiasm and energy were contagious. And they were made more so by the “rest of his  story,” cancer and all that.

Someone – OK, a lot of someones – said that life is not what happens to us; it’s how we respond to what happens to us. For some reason, today was different because I chose to be blessed in the middle of a difficult afternoon. I hope I’ve learned my lesson. I hope the  choice to see the blessing, even in difficulty stays with me for a long time.