My Daddy always said, ‘those church folks are the biggest hypocrites.’ Of course, my Daddy was a drunk, Emily recalled as she drove slowly on her way to Faith Church. It was a Sunday evening in late October. The Delta sun was blinding as it slowly dipped beneath the flat cotton fields busy with combines, trucks, and smoldering fires to burn off the remaining chaff. Emily pulled down her visor, yanking it loose, providing slightly more shade from the penetrating rays. Her sunglasses were lost to her, like the warmth of the summer when she had used them last. She adjusted the temperature as there was still a slight chill in the air. Most would say it was warm, but she tended to be cold natured, perhaps a holdover from her childhood when she and her siblings had to endure a fierce winter wind inside the thin walls of farm shacks. The shacks were a meager shelter her Daddy managed to negotiate as part of his pay as a seasonal farm hand in-between his drunken binges. On those rare occasions when her mom would emerge from her own darkness, she would turn on the gas stove and open the oven door providing some slight reprise from the winter cold. Emily remembered standing as close as possible without physically touching the oven, twisting back and forth, basking simultaneously in the heat on one side and enduring the cold on the other. Delta life was one of extremes for everyone, with very little space left for anyone in the middle.
The joy of risking failure
The day I stopped beating myself up ranks among the greatest days of my life. I was that guy that was quick to give others grace that I refused to extend to myself. But the day I stopped beating myself up, I started taking risks. Risk is the pathway to adventure, change, and growth. Is it dangerous at times? Maybe. But there are far more dangers to be experienced from doing nothing. The day I stopped beating myself up, I discovered that my thoughts have merit. I have something to say, something to contribute. My words and actions can influence others to speak up and speak out about issues that are important in the world. The day I stopped beating myself up is the day I discovered that others need validation, and they can find that validation and catharsis in something that I write, say, or do. The day that I stopped beating myself up, I experienced emotions that I had repressed. I allowed myself to feel, to feel joy, sorrow, pain, release and relief. And to feel them deeply.
My Father's House
Ambivalence embraces me as I fumble around the attic of a strange house that is now mine. I engage a necessary task. I feel nothing. A thin, black moleskine is cold in my hand; it’s worn cover cracked from years that are lost to me. Left in the corner of my father’s attic, under a stack of The Sunday Times, it valiantly endured the seasons for perhaps a decade or more. The words “First Guaranty Bank: Carthage, Tennessee” fading from its cover, it is shrouded among cobwebs and dust bunnies, biding its time until this moment of revelation. Perhaps a forgotten piece of marketing tchotchke taking up residence with the other misfits in this attic? Misfits, like me.
Getting to where you want to go!
If you are like me, there is a constant need for guided direction and leadership in our lives, especially when we find ourselves in transitional moments or extended seasons of change. This is perhaps most profoundly true in understanding how our financial choices impact our present and future happiness as defined by financial security. Even the most astute and conscientious among us, often find ourselves in need of a map in order to navigate the challenging roads ahead.
Listen to Ally Henny
There is a profound difference between advice and truth. Advice is like a hairbrush; a skilled stylist can utilize it in a way that creates a fresh and distinctive look. But after a few days if the recipient isn’t intentional, the impression of the stylist’s brush is quickly forgotten. Truth, on the other hand, is like a baseball bat applied to the same head. Those on the receiving end of a baseball bat are unlikely to ever be the same. Good advice is always welcomed and helpful, but the truth is life altering.
Silver Coins in the Sky
Growth buds are tear dropped-shaped bits where new growth occurs on a tree. I don’t think it is a coincidence that they are shaped as tears, as our greatest growth is often the result of our deepest sorrows. On occasion, we find unexpected surprises in the growth of trees that provides perspective for our most challenging moments.
My letter to Roy
Dear Roy, You were the friend of my youth. You are black and I am white. When we became adults, we drifted apart. You served in the military. I served in the ministry. You died too soon for me to tell you this in person, so I’ll tell you now. You endured more than you should have, suffered more than you deserved, and were held to the unreasonable expectations of white culture, yet still you were my friend.
I think that maybe those who like to throw around the phrase “I live life without regrets” in all actuality have them in abundance. In the words of Marilynn Robinson, “There’s a lot under the surface of life, everyone knows that. A lot of malice and dread and guilt, and so much loneliness, where you wouldn’t really expect to find it, either.” Agreed. I’ve had my fair share.