One Voice

… because one voice, armed with the truth, can help begin to heal the world.

On the ‘bucket list,’ love is what matters most

One thing that has become popular in recent years is creating something called a “bucket list.”

I know my daughter has one, and I know she has a lot of things she hopes to do and accomplish in her life. Of course, Pauline is young and still has a lot of time to accomplish her goals.

I don’t have as much time as she does, and while there are still many things I hope to do, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at some of the things I have already done, things that might wind up on someone’s “bucket list.”

Windows on the World

– I have been up in the tallest building in the world. Twice. Two different buildings. The Empire State Building in New York in 1957 and the Windows on the World restaurant in the Twin Towers in New York in 1979. Sadly, that’s a place no one will ever visit again.

Anyone who knows me knows that heights kind of creep me out, so I’m not ashamed to say we didn’t have window seats when we went there.

– I have walked on the Great Wall of China. It wasn’t a long walk, at least partly because it was a rainy day, but it was still impressive to realize I was standing on one of the only man-made creations that can be seen from outer space.

– I have been to three of the seven continents, and I don’t know how likely I am to visit too many more since travel isn’t the priority for me that it was for my parents. I would like to see Australia, but I honestly don’t know if I’ll make it to South America, Africa or Antarctica. In fact, I have only been south of the Equator once in my life, in 1999 when Nicole and I visited Tahiti and Moorea.

Visiting Moorea is to me a real highlight of my life’s travels. Cook’s Bay in Moorea, named after Captain Cook, is considered by some people the single most beautiful place in the world. From my limited experience, I can’t disagree.

– I have attended political conventions of both parties, Democrats in 1980 and 2000, Republicans in 1996, although almost all the reporting I did came outside the convention halls.

Cook's Bay, Moorea

– I have attended a World Series game (1985), a Super Bowl (1993), two Final Fours (1985-86), two baseball all-star games (1969, 1992) and a game in the NBA Finals (1975). I have watched an amazing number of top-flight athletes play, and I have interviewed more of them than I care to admit.

– I have made appearances on radio and television and in fact was profiled for a story on television in Southern California.

– In 2001 my face was on a billboard, a nice followup to January 1987 when my picture appeared in Sports Illustrated in a photograph with John Elway.

– I have seen Broadway shows, plays in the West End of London, film premieres and the taping of at least one television show. When it comes to theater, I saw “A Chorus Line” in New York, London, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, although my favorite play among all the ones I’ve seen is “Miss Saigon.”

– I have traveled to every state in the union except Alaska, North Dakota, Mississippi and Arkansas. And someday I hope to get to the remaining ones, except maybe North Dakota. The most amazing sights I have seen in my travels are an erupting volcano on the big island of Hawaii and Yosemite National Park. I’ve been to Tucson and Tucumcari, to Tehachapi and Tonopah, for those who remember the song.

– I’ve seen an amazing number of wonderful concerts, from the Lovin’ Spoonful in 1967 (for a $3 ticket) to Bob Dylan and the Band, the Rolling Stones (twice), the Beach Boys (four times), the Eagles, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Loggins & Messina, Billy Joel and a host of others, including one Beatle (sadly, it was Ringo).

– I’ve met and interviewed some wonderful people who are no longer with us, among others Catfish Hunter, Peter Ustinov and my good friend Walter Masterson.

– I stood in front of an audience once and did six minutes of stand-up comedy. I could have been better, but I got some laughs and didn’t bomb.

– I have been blessed to have some truly wonderful friendships, including several of the type that would qualify as lifelong. Mick Curran in California and Bill Madden in Florida have been my friends for 46 and 38 years, respectively, and I hope to know them till I die.

– I was blessed to have good parents who loved me, and three sisters and a brother who somehow tolerate me despite my many flaws as an older brother when they were growing up.

An old picture, but I love it.

– I have a wonderful grandchild who makes me smile every time I think about her, and one of the happiest days of my life was holding her on my chest as she slept when she was just 10 days old. Maddie will be 3 this September, and God willing, she will have a little brother or sister come November.

– I have two amazing children who have never given me any reason to feel anything but loving toward them and proud of them. Being a part of raising Pauline and Virgile ranks in my mind as the greatest accomplishment of my life.

– And most of all, I have a wife who entered my life when I was 42 and changed it from mundane to spectacular. There truly are no words to do justice to Nicole. All I can say without sounding trite or cliched is that meeting her was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Anyway, that’s pretty much my bucket list of accomplishments. I left out some things that mattered a lot to me once, like awards I won or the five years I spent writing a newspaper column, but don’t matter much anymore.

I still hope to accomplish more. I know I’ve got at least a publishable book or two in me. It’s just a case of making myself write them.

I left out breaking 80 on the golf course. I’ve written enough about that lately. I guess my only real goal now for golf is for once in my life, maybe to shoot par.

But that stuff doesn’t really matter.

All that really matters in our lives is what we do to make the lives of the people we love better.

I think I can still accomplish a lot more in that area in whatever time I have left.

posted by Mike in Family,Friends,Happiness,Home,love and have No Comments

It’s our values that tell us who we really are

Does everyone have basic values?

One of the complaints a lot of people used to have about Bill Clinton was they said he didn’t stand for anything, that he could triangulate any issue — no matter how simple of complex — to put himself in the best position to get votes.

Well, even if you accept Clinton in that light, he had values.

Values

Consider these — personal achievement, economic rewards, personal recognition and success.

All of those are values, and many of us who were to list what matters to us would have at least one or two of those things on our list.

As part of my Summer of Awakening here at Rancho Cortez in Bandera, Texas, I have been listening to a very fine life coach talk about values. Leia Francisco of Kerrville was talking today about Identifying Core Values, and how knowing our own core values can help us stay true to what matters to us.

Sydney Simon, a values expert, says a value has three ingredients.

1. You choose them freely. Your values cannot be forced upon you.

2. You prize your values, especially core values.

3. You act on your values repeatedly. They become habit to you.

We were given a list to choose from, a list ranging from A (achievement, adventure, authenticity) to W (wisdom). They could conceivably have put Zest for living on the list to cover the gamut, but they didn’t.

A few of the things on the list didn’t really seem like values to me — “playfulness?” — but different things matter to different people.

We were asked to narrow our list to 10 things and then to five, and those five were called our true core values.

Some of the winnowing out process was easy. Some things on the list didn’t matter to me much if at all — adventure, beauty, economic rewards, orderliness, playfulness, risk taking and tradition — and with some of the others, they seemed like three or four ways of saying the same thing.

I know there are differences between integrity, honesty and ethical living, but are they enough to make more than one of them your core values?

I had seven that mattered a lot to me, and just because humor and health/fitness didn’t make the final cut doesn’t mean I don’t value both and consider them important to pursue.

Both of those were in a serious three-day battle for the fifth and final spot in the core, and they lost out to “contributing my talents, ideas, energy …”

My first four might as well be written in stone.

Family, friendship, spirituality and integrity.

My most important role in this world is as a husband and a father, and my greatest treasures are my family and my lifelong friends. The next two things are — I hope — what make me the man I am and the man I am in the process of becoming.

Take some time yourself to consider your own values. I’m not urging anyone to be more like me. I’m sure there are perfectly good, happy people with some very different core values.

But unless you know what your own core values are, unless you honor them in your daily life, it’s tough even to know who you really are.

And everybody ought to at least know who they are.

***

This was initially posted at AllVoices.com.

posted by Mike in Family,Friends,Happiness,Texas and have No Comments

‘Bucket list’ about more than just fun things

We hear a lot of talk these days about “bucket lists.”

I don’t remember exactly where the term started, but I do recall there was a movie a few years back starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman in which two oldsters decided they would knock off their bucket list before they died.

I’m pretty sure the term comes from “kicking the bucket,” although right now I feel too lazy to look it up. Besides, if it doesn’t, it should.

My wonderful daughter Pauline did a bucket list a few years ago, and it was a long one with plenty of things she wanted to accomplish, other things she wanted to experience and places she wanted to visit during the rest of what I hope will be a very long life. I was fascinated by her list, although I have never really gotten around to making one myself.

Bucket list baseball in Houston

The closest thing I have myself is my baseball list, with my goal of seeing a game in every major league city. I’ve written about that recently, so I don’t feel the need to go into it too deeply again. I’m knocking off Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver and Phoenix this summer, which is cool. The toughest remaining part will be the Northern swing through Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis, and that will have to wait for another year.

I still intend to learn to surf, and the fact that I’m getting myself into shape this year will make that a great deal easier to pursue once I’m back in California. I would like to take flying lessons, although that may be something I’ll have to defer because of the risk involved.

But that sort of bucket list isn’t what I’m really looking for. That’s full of things about me and for me. And while that’s nice, I really do want to shift at least part of the focus to what I can do for other people.

Read more…

posted by Mike in baseball,Friends,Georgia,Happiness,in God's name,love,Texas and have No Comments

We should make decisions for life

“Kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out.”
– MERCENARY SLOGAN

Most of us have never killed anyone, nor would we ever kill anyone.

Yet over the last 40 years, most of us have slipped into America’s live-and-let-die culture to the point where we support at least one sort of killing.

What do I mean? Well, how many of us will say something to the effect of “I don’t believe in —–, but I don’t want to impose my morality on other people” and really mean it?

Think about it. There are at least four — maybe even five — different issues that I would call “life issues,” and very few of us are truly consistent on them. It took me decades to get to the point where I feel I have a consistent position that is morally sound.

The issues are abortion, capital punishment, assisted suicide, euthanasia (admittedly pretty close to the third one) and thanks to George W. Bush, pre-emptive war. In all five of them, we make the choice to kill — or at least to terminate the lives of — people.

Let’s start with the toughest one.

It’s obvious that abortion is a difficult issue, and there is a legitimate question at stake over whether unwanted babies have lives worth living. It’s also doubtful that making abortion illegal would end all abortions, although advances in birth control are certainly making it easier for intelligent women to avoid unwanted pregnancies.

But tens of millions of lives have been ended by abortions since Roe V. Wade in the early ’70s, and the worst thing about it is that they have been sanctioned by the government. No matter what people argue about women and the right to choose to have an abortion, I believe that if abortion were illegal, there would be fewer of them.

I think the tide is turning on this one, although very slowly. I have known plenty of women who have said they would never personally have an abortion, but others should have the right.

That’s innately illogical, and let’s leave it at that for now.

Capital punishment is also a tough one for some people, but I prefer the New Testament point of view and believe that an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. I’ll hang my hat on the saying that only God should decide who lives and who dies.

When I think about assisted suicide, I think of how hard Christopher Reeve fought to live until a cure for paralysis was found, and when I think of euthanasia, I think of how my late father rejoiced in every additional day he had with his family.

Pre-emptive war is the easy one for me. America used to be John Wayne, and the Duke never shot first. You worry about someone nuking us, and all you have to realize is that if we lose one city, whoever nuked us gets their country turned into a parking lot.

To me it’s all about respecting life, about making decisions that come down on the side of exalting our life force instead of cheapening it.

These days our whole culture is about death and dying. Wouldn’t it be nice to get back to a point where it was about life and living?

posted by Mike in in God's name and have No Comments

A philosophy of life in one sentence?

My wife Nicole has been listening to some fascinating CDs lately.

It’s a presentation titled “I Believe,” where they ask a lot of people — both famous and non-famous — to sum up their philosophy of life in one sentence beginning with the words “I believe …”

It’s interesting. Colin Powell, for one, said “I believe in the United States of America.” I’m sure many people who either immigrated here or whose parents did feel the same way, and I’m equally sure that those of us whose families have been here a long time probably tend to take it for granted.

My lovely wife, an immigrant from France more than 20 years ago and a U.S. citizen for the last 10, takes great pride in calling herself an American. In fact, when people notice her accent and ask her where she’s from, she responds with one short sentence.

“I’m an American.”

And in the end ...

And in the end ...

Her sentence was one that says so much about her. In spite of all the things she has been through in her life, the sentence she came up with, the thing she has always believed, was “I believe in the goodness of life.”

Mine was relatively easy too. In fact, the thing I strongly believe is something the Beatles said all the way back in 1969 on their wonderful album “Abbey Road.”

They said it this way:

“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

In fact, except for the goofy little ditty “Her Majesty” that ended the album, that line was the last line of lyrics ever put on a Beatle album.

So I won’t say it exactly that way, because that would be trite. The way I would put it means the same thing, but it isn’t about “taking.”

I believe that the love you get from others is equal to the love you give.

It doesn’t always work out the same for each person in your life. There are some people who love us more than we love them, and vice versa, but when all is said and done, I think it comes out about even.

Loving people are loved by others.

It took me a long time to become one of those people. I know I got a lot more love from my family growing up than I gave back, but I think maybe it was balanced out by all the girls I thought I loved when I was young who didn’t even know I existed.

But in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

It’s really that simple.

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posted by Mike in love and have No Comments
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