If you open it, close it.
If you turn it on, turn it off.
If you unlock it, lock it up.
If you break it, admit it.
If you can’t fix it, call in someone who can.
If you borrow it, return it.
If you value it, take care of it.
If you make a mess, clean it up.
If you move it, put it back.
If it belongs to someone else and you want to use, get permission.
If you don’t know how to operate it, leave it alone.
If it’s none of your business, don’t ask questions.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
If it will brighten someone’s day, say it.
If it will tarnish someone’s reputation, keep it to yourself.
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for,
And if you dare to dream of meeting
Your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
For love, for your dream,
For the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon.
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow,
If you have been opened by life’s betrayals,
Or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain,
Mine or your own,
To hide it or fade it or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy,
Mine or your own,
If you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
Without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic,
or to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself,
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.
I want to know if you can be faithless and therefore be trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see beauty
Even when it is not pretty every day,
And if you can source your life
From its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure,
Yours and mine,
And still stand on the edge of a lake and shout to the silver of the full moon,
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair,
Weary and bruised to the bone,
And do what needs to be done for the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you are, how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
In the center of the fire with me
And not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
From the inside
When all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone
And if you truly like the company you keep
In the empty moments.
It had been a very long night. Our black cocker spaniel ‘Precious’ was having a difficult delivery. I lay on the floor beside her large four-foot square cage, watching her every movement. Watching and waiting, just in case I had to rush her to the veterinarian.
After six hours the puppies started to appear. The first-born was black and white. The second and third puppies were tan and brown in color. The fourth and fifth were also spotted black and white. “One, two, three, four, five,” I counted to myself as I walked down the hallway to wake my wife, Judy, and tell her that everything was fine.
As we walked back down the hallway and into the spare bedroom, I noticed a sixth puppy had been born and was now laying all by itself over to the side of the cage. I picked up the small puppy and laid it on top of the large pile of puppies, who were whining and trying to nurse on the mother. Precious immediately pushed the small puppy away from rest of the group. She refused to recognize it as a member of her family.
“Something’s wrong,” said Judy.
I reached over and picked up the puppy. My heart sank inside my chest when I saw the little puppy had a cleft lip and palate and could not close its little mouth. I decided right there and then that if there was any way to save this animal I was going to give it my best shot.
I took the puppy to the vet and was told nothing could be done unless we were willing to spend about a thousand dollars to try and correct the defect. He told us that the puppy would die mainly because it could not suckle. After returning home, Judy and I decided that we could not afford to spend that kind of money without getting some type of assurance from the vet that the puppy had a chance to live. However, that did not stop me from purchasing a syringe and feeding the puppy by hand. Which I did every day and night, every two hours, for more than ten days. The little puppy survived and learned to eat on his own as long as it was soft canned food.
The fifth week I placed an ad in the newspaper, and within a week we had people interested in all of the pups, except the one with the deformity. Late one afternoon I went to the store to pick up a few groceries. Upon returning I happened to see the old retired schoolteacher, who lived across the street from us, waving at me. She had read in the paper that we had puppies and was wondering if she might get one from us for her grandson and his family. I told her all the puppies had found homes, but I would keep my eyes open for anyone else who might have an available cocker spaniel. I also mentioned that if someone should change their mind, I would let her know. Within days, all but one of the puppies had been picked up by their new families. This left me with one brown and tan cocker as well as the smaller puppy with the cleft lip and palate.
Two days passed without me hearing anything from the gentleman who had been promised the tan and brown pup. I telephoned the schoolteacher and told her I had one puppy left and that she was welcome to come and look at it. She advised me that she was going to pick up her grandson and would come over at about eight o’clock that evening.
That night at around seven-thirty, Judy and I were eating supper when we heard a knock on the front door. When I opened the door, the man who had wanted the tan and brown pup was standing there. We walked inside, took care of the adoption details and I handed him the puppy. Judy and I did not know what we would do or say when the teacher showed up with her grandson. At exactly eight o’clock the doorbell rang. I opened the door, and there was the schoolteacher with her grandson standing behind her. I explained to her the man had come for the puppy after all, and there were no puppies left. “I’m sorry, Jeffery. They found homes for all the puppies,” she told her grandson.
Just at that moment, the small puppy left in the bedroom began to yelp.
“My puppy! My puppy!” yelled the little boy as he ran out from behind his grandmother.
I just about fell over when I saw that the small child also had a cleft lip and palate. The boy ran past me as fast as he could, down the hallway to where the puppy was still yelping. When the three of us made it to the bedroom, the small boy was holding the puppy in his arms. He looked up at his grandmother and said, “Look, Grandma. They found homes for all the puppies except the pretty one, and he looks just like me.”
The schoolteacher turned to us, “Is this puppy available?”
“Yes,” I answered. “That puppy is available.”
The little boy, who was now hugging the puppy, chimed in, “My grandma told me these kind of puppies are real expensive and that I have to take real good care of it.”
The lady opened her purse, but I reached over and pushed her hand back down into her purse so that she would not pull her wallet out. “How much do you think this puppy is worth?” I asked the boy. “About a dollar?” “No. This puppy is very, very expensive,” he replied.
“More than a dollar?” I asked.
“I’m afraid so,” said his grandmother.
The boy stood there pressing the small puppy against his cheek. “We could not possibly take less than two dollars for this puppy,” Judy said, squeezing my hand. “Like you said, it’s the pretty one.”
The schoolteacher took out two dollars and handed it to the young boy.
“It’s your dog now, Jeffery. You pay the man.”
Still holding the puppy tightly, the boy proudly handed me the money. Any worries I’d had about the puppy’s future were gone.
The image of the little boy and his matching pup stays with me still. I think it must be a wonderful feeling for any young person to look at themselves in the mirror and see nothing, except “the pretty one.”
By Roger Dean Kiser,
a love, hope, courage books writer
A man had a little daughter, an only and much beloved child. He lived only for her, she was his life. So when she became ill and her illness resisted the efforts of the best obtainable physicians, he became like a man possessed, moving heaven and earth to bring about her restoration to health.
His best efforts proved fruitless, however, and the child died. The father was totally irreconcilable. He became a bitter recluse, shutting himself away from his many friends, refusing every activity that might restore his poise and bring him back to his normal self.
Then one night he had a dream. He was in heaven and witnessing a grand pageant of all the little child angels. They were marching in an apparently endless line past the Great White Throne. Every white-robed, angelic tot carried a candle. He noticed, however, that one child’s candle was not lit. Then he saw that the child with the dark candle was his own little girl. Rushing towards her, while the pageant faltered, he seized her in his arms, caressed her tenderly, and asked, “How is that your candle is the only one not lit?” “Father, they often relight it, but your tears always put it out again,” she said.
Just then he awoke from from his dream. The lesson was crystal clear, and it’s effects were immediate. From that hour on he was no longer a recluse, but mingled freely and cheerfully with his former friends and associates. No longer would his little darling’s candle be extinguished by his useless tears.
The pastor called me to come forward. I walked to the pulpit confident and proud. I looked out at my family. Some wore somber expressions. Others had faces still damp with tears. Then I gazed down at the shiny black coffin crowned with yellow flowers.
My father, Charlie Lyons, was gone. It was my turn at his funeral earlier this year to pay tribute to the man who taught me so much growing up on the Northside. How do you sum up a lifetime in 10 minutes?
I flashed to Dad holding the handlebar and jogging alongside my bike until I felt ready to ride on my own. I saw him pulling up to my broken-down car at night, doing a quick fix and trailing me home. I thought of the hug we shared at my wedding.
Then, I started talking about a special moment I draw from now. Dad was always full of advice, but one of the biggest lessons he taught me one summer was about having a strong work ethic. When my brother and I were growing up, we mowed yards during the summer to earn pocket change. Dad was our salesman. He pitched our service to neighbors and offered a price they could not refuse. My brother and I got $10 per yard. Some yards were a half-acre. I later found out our friends were charging $20 or more for the same amount of work.
Every time we headed out to mow lawns, Dad was there to watch. I used to wonder why he came with us. He stood supervising our work in the sticky Florida heat when he could have been inside relaxing with air conditioning and an icy drink.
One day we were cutting our next-door neighbor’s yard. She always waited until the grass was knee-high to call us over. To make matters worse, we had an old lawn mower that kept cutting off as we plowed through her backyard jungle. This particular afternoon, I was finishing up and was tired and sweaty. I pictured the tall glass of Kool-Aid I would gulp in a minute to cool down.
I was just about to cut off the lawn mower when I saw Dad pointing to one lone blade. I thought about the chump change I was getting paid for cutting grass so high it almost broke the mower. I ignored him and kept walking. Dad called me out and yelled, “You missed a piece.”
I frowned, hoping he would let me slide and go home. He kept pointing. So beat and deflated, I went back to cut that piece of grass. I mumbled to myself: “That one piece isn’t hurting anyone. Why won’t he just let it go?”
But when I reached adulthood, I understood his message: When you’re running a business, the work you do says a great deal about you. If you want to be seen as an entrepreneur with integrity, you must deliver a quality product. That single blade of grass meant the job was not done.
Other neighbors took notice of the good work we did and we soon garnered more business. We started out with one client, but by the end of the summer we had five, which was all we cared to handle because we wanted time to enjoy our summer break from school.
The lesson my dad taught me stayed with me: Be professional. If you say you are going to perform a job at a certain time, keep your word. Give your customers the kind of service you would like to receive. It shows how sincere you are and how much pride you take in your work.
Before I knew it, my tribute was over. I saw my wife jump to her feet in an ovation. The pastor embraced me. People rushed to shake my hand. Though Dad’s body lay inside the coffin, I felt his spirit there. I pictured him standing in the sanctuary, wearing the white T-shirt and blue shorts he did on grass-cutting days. Always there for me and always proud.
By Patrick A. Lyons
This is a real life story of engineer John Roebling building the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, USA back in 1870. The bridge was completed in 1883, after 13 years.
In 1883, a creative engineer named John Roebling was inspired by an idea to build a spectacular bridge connecting New York with the Long Island. However bridge building experts throughout the world thought that this was an impossible feat and told Roebling to forget the idea. It just could not be done. It was not practical. It had never been done before.
Roebling could not ignore the vision he had in his mind of this bridge. He thought about it all the time and he knew deep in his heart that it could be done. He just had to share the dream with someone else. After much discussion and persuasion he managed to convince his son Washington, an up and coming engineer, that the bridge in fact could be built.
Working together for the first time, the father and son developed concepts of how it could be accomplished and how the obstacles could be overcome. With great excitement and inspiration, and the headiness of a wild challenge before them, they hired their crew and began to build their dream bridge.
The project started well, but when it was only a few months underway a tragic accident on the site took the life of John Roebling. Washington was also injured and left with a certain amount of brain damage, which resulted in him not being able to talk or walk.
“We told them so.” “Crazy men and their crazy dreams.” “It’s foolish to chase wild visions.”
Everyone had a negative comment to make and felt that the project should be scrapped since the Roeblings were the only ones who knew how the bridge could be built.
In spite of his handicap Washington was never discouraged and still had a burning desire to complete the bridge and his mind was still as sharp as ever. He tried to inspire and pass on his enthusiasm to some of his friends, but they were too daunted by the task.
As he lay on his bed in his hospital room, with the sunlight streaming through the windows, a gentle breeze blew the flimsy white curtains apart and he was able to see the sky and the tops of the trees outside for just a moment.
It seemed that there was a message for him not to give up. Suddenly an idea hit him. All he could do was move one finger and he decided to make the best use of it. By moving this, he slowly developed a code of communication with his wife.
He touched his wife’s arm with that finger, indicating to her that he wanted her to call the engineers again. Then he used the same method of tapping her arm to tell the engineers what to do. It seemed foolish but the project was under way again.
For 13 years Washington tapped out his instructions with his finger on his wife’s arm, until the bridge was finally completed. Today the spectacular Brooklyn Bridge stands in all its glory as a tribute to the triumph of one man’s indomitable spirit and his determination not to be defeated by circumstances. It is also a tribute to the engineers and their team work, and to their faith in a man who was considered mad by half the world. It stands too as a tangible monument to the love and devotion of his wife who for 13 long years patiently decoded the messages of her husband and told the engineers what to do.
Perhaps this is one of the best examples of a never-say-die attitude that overcomes a terrible physical handicap and achieves an impossible goal.
Often when we face obstacles in our day-to-day life, our hurdles seem very small in comparison to what many others have to face. The Brooklyn Bridge shows us that dreams that seem impossible can be realised with determination and persistence, no matter what the odds are.