Tag Archives: education

CONVERSATIONS WITH MY FATHER – MAD MONEY

There were a significant number of conversations with my father that most people would agree usually occurs between father and son when the son reaches 20 or so.  They are the first man-to-man conversations where sire and offspring bond and where the proud papa gets to transfer his “wisdom” to his son(s), you know – man stuff.

I began these conversations, and the relationship that accompanies them much later; in my late 30’s.  It gave me and interesting perspective on parenting and living with other people on a planet and being a man.  This one, by far, is my favorite of all time.

I was maybe 40 or 41 years old and my Dad was visiting my house. Suddenly he says to me:  “Let me see your wallet, son.  Please.”  I don’t think anyone is ever prepared for that question.  I asked him why he wanted to see my wallet, to which he replied:  “If I don’t see your wallet, I won’t be able to share a particular thought with you that might be useful.”  So I handed him my wallet.  He looked into all of the slots and pockets or whatever they are called until he was satisfied and then gave me my wallet back without saying anything at all.   He then took out his wallet; a brown bi-fold leather wallet; simple, classic and practical.  He opened it wide to expose the two pockets that one accessed basically from the inside middle of the wallet.  A common place for business cards and such that one considers “wallet-worthy” but don’t require quick access.  He opened up one of those pockets and began to pull out a folded piece of paper, or at least that’s what I thought I was seeing.  Suddenly the gesture became familiar:  I’d seen him do this before; the folded piece of paper was money, usually a $100.00 bill.   He pulled out the bill and unfolded it, indeed it was a nice crisp $100.00 bill. Then he looked at me and his eyes became those of a mischievous little boy and he smiled his irresistible smile – whatever was coming next was going to be, if anything, fun.

Even though we were alone, he looked to his left and then to his right and lowering his voice a bit, said to me:

“Now listen up Son, and listen well.  This is what’s called “mad money” you should always keep a C-note in your wallet for mad money.  It’s important.  Do not forget this, okay?

I simply had to ask, so I did, I said:  “What for, pop?”  He grinned and let out a slightly sinister giggle as he looked at me and put a hand on my shoulder right before answering my question.  He winked at me and said:  “Because;… you never know!” and skipped out of the room, giggling all the way out the front door.”

As usual, pop was right.  I carried my “mad-money”, as my father taught me until we destroyed the function and concept of money, but during the years that I did, on more than one occasion, it saved my ass, got me out of a mess or was that which allowed me to ask the gorgeous blonde sitting on a buddy’s couch looking bored after everyone else lost their pocket money playing poker if she wanted to have dinner, or drinks.  Dad always said: “Never use mad money for anything that you should cover out of your pocket.  It will let you know when to pull it out of your wallet.  It most certainly did.

Mad money.  I would have never, ever calculated the enormous importance of that concept in my life if my father had not passed it down.  It may be one of the most useful tools I’ve ever had, because:  you never know!

That’s my pop

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FIFTY-TWO

Today is my birthday and I turn fifty-two.

So what does that mean, for me or for you?

There’s not much about age that the math can provide,

Save the count of our years and its sting on our pride.

 

Here’s a little math trick on which you can chew,

‘Bout the momentous occasion of turning fifty-two.

The math is sound, and it is also quite true,

That at some point in time this math will apply to you.

 

Today is my birthday, and I turn fifty-two,

So what does that mean for me or for you?

Not much save that regardless of who you might be or what you may do,

The math at this point probably yields that I’m the older of the two.

 

In everyone’s life we arrive at a place,

Where we can no longer prevent wrinkles on our face.

We can no longer assume that with everyone we meet,

We are always the pup, the youngster on the street.

 

52 is the point where the odds shift the norm.

And they accomplish this with such curious form.

If we pay attention and listened while still being weaned,

At this point we’d savor the knowledge we’ve gleaned.

 

And if we’ve become wise and learned how to love,

We can share what we’ve learned and what comes forth thereof.

 

My twenties ran by, or rather they flew.

My thirties fit me like a comfortable shoe.

My forties made me ask if I’d learned what I thought I knew,

So, I leave you with this: good advice – served up in a tasty word brew:

 

Today is my birthday and I turned fifty-two.

So what does that mean for me or for you?

I choose to share what I’ve learned and hope that it’s true,

That you’ll do the same, when it’s your turn to be the older of the two.

 

We are all we have.

 

We can do better.

 

ctwfrank

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Simple Math

If it only makes me feel good; it’s not love.

We can do better.

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Empty spaces

Every time a thought is left unspoken by the person who thought it, it withers and dies for not having been shared and an empty space is all that remains in all the space between all of us; space preferably full with the stuff of human communication.

Every time the inspiration to act is ignored or subdued, only inaction remains. Nothing happens at all and this leaves an empty space in all of space between all of us that could be ripe with actions; human actions, our actions; our choices.

The amount of empty space between all of us is piling up; quickly and it’s not a very good idea to have a lot of empty space, because empty space can be filled up with anything at all by anyone at all, even a hateful thought, a greedy and selfless act or generally inhuman behavior – and that is exactly what is happening.

Think, if you do, you will produce. Act; do so with love and you will build up our humanity. Speak and do, with your entire mind and all your heart. Leave no empty space in your path, the empty spaces we leave are so very tempting for selfish thoughts. We are not each other’s enemies, we are all we have. Let us be the authors and builders of our future and not the cause of not having one. Have the strength and the desire to love; do you have any of either left? You do.

We can do better.

ctwfrank

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As to 2013

During these first 5 days of 2013; I have been asked a single question more than any other, so much so, that I’m posting both the question and my response.

The Question:   “Frank, so what’s your take on 2013 so far?”

The Response: “So far, 2013 has been like backing out of your driveway, with the parking brake on the whole way, and a boot on two of the four tires.”

I have yet to see an indication that 2013 has any intention of starting yet- in any way save that which increases fear, suspense, speculation and the total paralysis of commerce at most levels, despite what one may read or hear from “the news”.

It’s still a question mark as to what this means, it’s up to us.  If we take it as a strong signal of a catastrophic ending, then it shall be so, but if we take the total lack of structure affecting everyone, everywhere; it is also an opportunity to re-write the whole book; you know, the one that needs to be re-written desperately.   It’s up to us: all of us, not some of us.

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A curious observation

Far be it for me to resort to raw commercial endorsements.  No, that’s not what this is about; however

PROLONG2many of you know about the product pictured here:  prolong.  It’s the stuff you add to you your Christmas tree water to keep it fresh during the time it sits in the tree stand.  The stuff works great, but it’s not only that.  It also gives me such a robust boner.

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The secret wishes of humanity

If one pays enough attention, it is absolutely mind-boggling to see how many people in the world actually wish, in some secret place in their heart, that the whole Mayan calendar thing is true and the world really will sort of come to an end in a few days because, seriously – who can stand any more of this?

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Possibilities

It turns out that most of the things that are considered “impossible”, are not; they are just hard and require effort, but not impossible. We are becoming a planet of sissies – lazy sissies. Never fear having to do something difficult; if you absolutely must live in fear, then fear having nothing to do.

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As to giving up

It appears that someone else has give “it” a name and assigned it a date.  It is being called the “Fiscal Cliff” and apparently we are supposed to topple over it on January 1, 2013.  Interesting.  At least this gives some indication that there is a speck of sanity and an atom of awareness left in the human condition.  It’s not a fiscal cliff, however, if we were to apply that metaphor to the actual world, we went over that cliff in 2008.  After filtering out all of the “required modifications” to the language used, what is being called the “fiscal cliff” may very well be the bottom of the precipice that we have already fallen from (it is still incalculable to determine how far we will fall) and January 1, 2013 may be a probabilistic calculation as when we might hit that bottom.

It is simply insane that, at this stage of the process, all that we are capable of is to acknowledge the inevitable proximity of an unthinkable catastrophe and attempt to figure out when it will occur.   All that is missing is to take bets and give odds as to the actual date for it to technically be lunacy.

It is a shame; and to think that preventing it from even occurring is so simple.  All that we have to do is to realize that there is no spoon, because there isn’t.

I can’t let myself  forget, even for an instant, that giving up is simply not allowed.

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The Banana Peel Rule

Next to the Shinola rule, the next most important rule of human life that one can never afford to forget is the banana peel rule.  The banana peel is always there, right where you will know it is.  That’s right, we know  it’s there, in fact, if you don’t already know about the banana peel, then  I’m officially informing you of the existence and the location of the banana peel.

So, what the heck is the banana peel?  As is the case with most of the rules of human life, it’s a metaphor for something very important.  The banana peel is a catastrophic calamity that befalls a person, just before they win.  Or hit the home run.  Or finish the big project.  Or close the big deal.  Or finish the formula that will get you the Nobel Prize.  Or finally walking up to the girl that you can’t get out of your head and asking her out.  Anything at all that is considered to be a human triumph or victory or accomplishment; big or small, has a banana peel.

This is how it goes.  Among the plethora of qualities that abound in a human being, one of the most cantankerous is our incessant like of not using the tools that we have and that are wonderfully effective and powerful and useful in the course of living a human life.  In particular, I’m referring about what may be the #1 tool we have, and if it’s not #1, it’s definitely top three.  I’m referring to our ability to think; I’m not just talking about the human brain, mind you.  A human brain is there regardless of what you do with it but it won’t think unless we will it to, and we won’t will it to until we have no other choice or at the very least if he or she is super hot and irresistible.  As long as most people can find a shortcut, a cheat sheet, an advantage, a secret passage, an enchanted potion or even a magic pill that will allow for them to not have to think anything through, they will usually take it, regardless of the risk and only seeing the possibilities if they could actually get away with winning something, or solving a problem, or working to finish something without actually having to think or do anything, if possible.  Here’s the math:

Imagine yourself running a race.  A competitive foot race, let’s say a thousand meter race.  The race itself could represent anything; a job, an idea, a challenge, a problem, life.  The starter pistol goes off and you fly into the lead, running like no one has ever run.  You are a human gazelle and suddenly you have a one, two, three, five and finally a ten-man lead over the rest of the competition.  You are so far ahead that the crowd is in frenzy and your head swims with the thought of the adoration, adulation, fame and fortune that will be heaped upon your feet when you are named as the winner.   Suddenly, there it is.  You can see it; the finish line.  The long tape stretched across the track receives only one of the competitors in its warm embrace. It’s so close that you can smell it and you believe you can actually feel its proximity.  You risk a quick look back and the guy who will end up in second place is so far behind you that it is ridiculous.  You look at the finish line again and you could swear it was just a few inches away and then at that moment, is when we screw the pooch.  That emotion, because it is an emotion, that some call sloth, others call laziness, and a few others even call human nature; kicks in and sends a signal to your conscious rational cognitive thinking mechanism and tells you that you already won.  That’s it, nobody can catch you now.  You are the king, the winner, numero uno, the top man – and immediately after you believe it, a mere two feet from the finish tape, you stop trying.  You figure that the inertia alone will carry you across the finish line well before anyone else catches up and you BELIEVE that you are unstoppable and that certain victory is yours.  So you stop thinking and stop paying attention and stop running the race and you start to celebrate!  Right there, at that moment; 14 inches before hitting the tape and actually winning, that’s when you slip on the banana peel lying on the track – because you weren’t paying attention – and fall down and bust your ass.  You fall so hard that you can’t get up.  You may even have a fracture of the hip or the coccyx.  You agonize in pain but you can’t get up because your busted your ass when you feel.  You try to crawl and begin to sob, thinking you can drag your way across the finish line before anyone else gets near, but you are in too much pain.  A slip and bust-your-ass fall on a banana peel during a full-on sprint at the end of a 1000 meter race will bust your ass for real.  Suddenly, one, then two, then all of the other runners cross the finish line.  The guy that you were laughing at only minutes before because he was going to end up in second place (and everyone knows that nobody remembers who came in second at anything) WON, and the adoration, adulation, triumph and celebrity that were supposed to be yours are taken away just like that.

As you are being carried away in a stretcher to an ambulance, never having actually crossed the finish line at all, you scream, in a fit or pure anger at the sky and complain to whoever it is that you pray to.  You complain and say “It’s not fair!”   Not fair?  What is fair? As the saying goes; it’s not over ‘till it’s over or it’s not over ‘till the fat lady sings, the moral is the same.  There’s no excuse for taking your eye off the ball while it’s in play or for slacking off because you believe it’s a “sure thing”.  The moment that you do, I promise you; that banana peel will be there, waiting for you.  What a person starts, they must finish.  Mediocrity is not a human genetic trait.   So now you know and because you know, you do not have to slip on the banana peel. Life is a 24 hour a day, 7 day per week job.  Nobody gets time off from life, nobody gets a break.  The interesting thing is that we should never need to feel like we do.   None of us should ever forget about the banana peel, one day our very lives may depend on paying attention to what we’re doing, and if you don’t and then you slip and bust your ass; you know what’s next:   I told you so!

We can do better and remember; step OVER the banana peel when you see it.

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