Just Thinking

Are you better at thinking or paying attention? 

I suggest that most people are completely inept at thinking, and this ineptitude is demonstrated in ways such as the thinker becoming bogged down or content in his particular thoughts. Perhaps, while thinking, one may believe that it is the thinking over of something which will effectuate some assurance of change to the thing about which is being thought.

Read that sentence again.

Thinkers tend to be talkers because thinkers habitually think out loud. Thinkers tend to interrupt because they are thinking too much about what they will say next. Thinkers tend to be anxious because they believe that their thoughts themselves will be the mechanism of change. Another cause of anxiety among thinkers is that they seldom permit themselves to observe others in a social setting because all of that thinking has a tendency to build restlessness and apprehension at times when observing or paying attention would bring about self-awareness and composure.

Most people are thinkers, but only a few people are very good at it.

I myself have very little skill in the realm of thinking. In fact, I’ve discovered that thinking causes me to become introspective to a fault; thinking causes me to become anxious during conversations; thinking takes me off of my A-game during presentations; thinking causes me to skip tutorials, and thus assemble mechanical things in a disorderly fashion. In other words, thinking causes me to bungle everything up!

However, when I pay attention, then I’m giving myself the freedom to learn.

During a fight, thinking will get you killed; paying attention provides more options more quickly; during a conversation, if I pay attention, then I’m not interrupting because I’m listening. I’m not feeling anxiety wondering how I should respond because my responses flow naturally into my head as a result of paying attention.. Paying attention provides a more compelling motivation for change than does thinking, as solutions are truly being discovered as they emerge rather than being fabricated as they are imagined. Paying attention is passive by nature, and requires very little effort; thinking is exhausting, and can only be done for moments at a time before the subject of your thoughts has completely changed several times over.

Are you better at thinking or paying attention?

Please don’t think too much about it. 


The Elusive Great Life

Lately, I’ve been marveling – I suppose even lamenting – over the assumption by many folks that “the good life” is something you must wait for, or perhaps something that comes with qualifications. Such thoughts seem to often coincide with the belief that a great life is something that simply or eventually happens by some twist of events. I would suggest that a great life is something that one builds for himself; something that one puts together in pieces, much like building a wall. And the greatness of that life, again much like the greatness of a wall, is the result of the time and effort one takes to build it. Think about that for a moment, and imagine how many folks trek meander skulk through the years, waiting for a great life to build itself for them. Perhaps they imagine that a brilliant business idea will strike, or great wealth will befall them; perhaps they imagine a beautiful spouse may appear, or their boss will offer a lucrative promotion.


And years pass by. Literally, years. This gives me pause.


Let’s assume, for the moment, that you’re penniless. Or may we at least assume that the great life hasn’t struck for you? You may have even tried to build the life, but you’ve paused to wait for proper supplies and building materials to arrive. Maybe you’re still waiting for supplies, or maybe you’ve realized that those supplies aren’t coming.

I would ask you to stop at this moment, and look around. What do you see around you? What have you done with the few supplies you do have? Have you built anything yet? For you, will the promotion be the usher for the great life or merely a supplement. 

Do any of you know a builder? You know, somebody who builds houses or something similar. I do, and I’ve noticed something about builders. If you give a builder a weekend, some nails, a hammer, and a pile of lumber, then come back on Monday, and I assure you he will have built… I don’t know, a tree house, or box, or a shelf, or something! He’ll not say that he didn’t want to build anything because he couldn’t build EVERYthing. He’ll see what he could build – what he COULD build – with just what’s in the pile. Then he goes to work, and he builds.

I want to assure you that if you think it’s appropriate to waste years of your life planning for what you’ll do when life begins, then there is no great life coming for you. You see, success has nothing to do with position or wealth; nothing to do with cars or houses; nothing to do with watches or jewelry. Success is about taking whatever you have – anything you have – and building something amazing with it. There’s a fellow I know who is one of the greatest photographers I’ve personally met. This fellow tours all around the US and Europe just taking spectacular pictures of many things. Would you believe that I recently discovered that this fellow with this incredible life earns his living by power washing houses? And he doesn’t work for himself; he’s an hourly employee. The photographer didn’t wait for his promotion, and I would urge you to consider his lead; reflect on his vervacious (like verve, don’t judge me) attitude about building his life without delay; without supplies; without wasting a little time, then years, then a life that could’ve been great if it had only been built. I made up that word “vervacious”, but I’ll let you use it. Maybe put that word on your mirror tonight, and live that word tomorrow. Build your life. Build it broke, single, in debt, in a mud pit, in a tough job, but build it vervaciously.

GMS Perhaps Not Entirely Unlike PMS


I’m not feeling nice today. In fact, I haven’t written anything in a while simply because if you haven’t  nice things to say…

And I damn sure don’t.

If you’re in a good mood, go away. Have lunch at Panera; savor an extra strong joe from Starbucks; frolic and play, but whatever you do, make sure you leave here quick.

The President? Congress? Iran? Gas prices? Primaries? Phony “Christian” deadbeats? Increasingly ungoverned government? Crippled education system?

Yeah , yeah, those too; albeit, today it’s something more than all that; today, my concern is for my way of life.

You see, I have a great life. Indeed a life understandably well worth proudly passing on to my children. Please know that this lifestyle didn’t come free, but it did come freely. It didn’t come from hand-outs, but it did come about because I was free to choose it. Of course, when I chose it, it didn’t happen the next day. In fact, it didn’t happen the following year, or even the year after that. When I chose this life, I began to pursue it… only I looked in all the wrong places. I made mistakes; made decisions that I thought would bring about different ends. Disaster was the immediate result.

I failed more than once.

Trying to do the right thing left me living in my car; hooked up with the wrong crowd; at times, jobless; financially destroyed; hungry; needing help, yet too young and too proud to ask for it. Now, understand that I wasn’t damned; instead, I was a work in progress – And an ugly one at that.

I’m a strong person. I’m strong willed too. I know best… always have. It takes a horse’s kick to turn this horse’s ass around. But it does turn. Yes, I do learn… later than sooner.

I was never really homeless. You see, I had a home, only my job didn’t afford me the gas money to drive back to it on a regular basis. Thus, there were many nights that I spent in my car, parked out in a field only a few short miles from work. If I had to do it over again (I say this with great care), I wouldn’t change a damn thing. I never blamed anyone for my troubles, and I never considered it the duty of anybody else to take me in and feed me. I never became angry at anybody else because I felt that I merited their help. In fact, I never once became disheartened. Soon I would make that necessary turn, I just knew it.

When I look back, I marvel at the beauty of it… despite all of its’ ugliness. Yes, the fascinating beauty of a person’s freedom to mess up, then on that same token, the freedom to recover. Practical homelessness and hunger are ugly things, and they’re no fun to live through; nevertheless, they are indeed a very natural byproduct of a truly free type of freedom. You know, the freedom to invest poorly, spend foolishly, drink shamelessly, and even the freedom to choose where one is going to work, never knowing that massive layoffs were in store. As long as we’ve the freedom to choose, we’ve the freedom to make mistakes. As long as long as we’ve the freedom to make mistakes, we’ve the freedom to recover from them.

I have no respect for a man or woman who falls and never gets back up. Maybe it takes them a week; maybe it takes them five years. Still, as long as we live in a free country, there remains no excuse to throw one’s hands up in despair and defeat.

“It’s too difficult”, you say? Fine lay there.

“I need a little help”, you say? Now that may well be valid, but what if it doesn’t come? And, what if it does? What then?

Now, on to the issue at hand; the issue that causes me such grief; the issue that quite literally could change my way of life.

Choir Boy Syndrome.

You heard me. Choir boys!

When I was a kid, girly-men were a particular group of people of whom we made constant fun. Such men have now become the standard of “manliness”. Real men are either not permitted to behave as such, or they are altogether ceasing to exist.

You know what I mean. We see it in the commercials with the guys at the football game. Only they’re not watching the game; instead, they’re bickering over who has the fasted friggin’ cell phone!

“Oh… That’s so twenty seconds ago”

Then, of course, there’s the apoplectic guy who I saw recently at a theme park railing some employee about how bent out of shape he was that there was a smoking area next to a craft booth where he had just been shopping. Apparently there was one little old man smoking and, god forbid it, but this guy had happened to smell a little smoke. “If I wanted to f’ing die, I’d go stand in front of a f’ing train!!!” the guy screamed. My wife and I were laughing, but this attitude is indicative of a serious problem.

Girly Man Syndrome. Yep. And it’s spreading quickly.

A few months ago, Anderson Cooper played a video of two guys racing their corvettes on the street. They wrecked. Yeah, not cool, but Cooper went a step further than proclaiming it “uncool”. “We need to find these guys and make sure that they are punished. They need to serve jail time over this!” Cooper complained.

Really Andy? Jail time? Come on. If you’re a guy and you’ve never raced your car when/where you probably shouldn’t have… well then it’s likely that you, too, suffer from Girly Man Syndrome. Simple as that.

Harsh? Nah.

My wife was recently at the Wal-Mart home office, in Bentonville, Arkansas. I was there also, but I waited in the car while she went in to run her errand. When she came back out, she was shaking her head and laughing.

“Where have all the manly men gone?” she asked.


She went on to explain that, while she was waiting inside, she observed women having important meetings, with notepads, black coffee and discipline. Obversely, she discovered several men sitting/standing about, and all of them were either playing with their toys (iphones, ipads, laptops, etc.) or they were huddled in a corner raving about the lettuce wraps that they had for lunch and complimenting each other on their choice of shoes. Geez.

Examples are endless. Don’t help the girl in distress, she has a phone; don’t spank your kids, they might cry; don’t grade F’s with red ink, someone might get hurt feelings, etc.

Girly Man Syndrome. You’re damn right.

Christian Bale gets mad at some idiot lighting guy, and we have to hear about it for months.

“Christian doesn’t deserve his name!” They said.

“I thought we had evolved better than this” They said.

“Any man who gets angry is clearly still a monkey” They said.

After hearing Bale’s rant, I’ve gotta tell ya, I’ve gone off worse than that at my car keys for getting lost.

I wanna say somethin’. And I want it to be clear. Presently, the United States is a country that many other countries want to put an end to. They want to take us down.

“Well it’s because they don’t like us, we need to make’em like us better”

If you just said that, then you’re just a stupid fuck misinformed. Throughout history, countries have taken over other countries, not because they didn’t like them, not because they had a problem with their way of life. Countries take over other countries because they want their resources, and because they want the power that comes with greater territory.

And so I ask you, who would you rather have defending our wall while you sleep comfortably. You should think about that because the wall will sure as hell be attacked. When the enemy strikes, I shudder to think that they may well be met by a bunch of lettuce wrap eating Panera snobs.

I have to tell you, it’ll likely either be these choir boys or else a group of guys who may have raced their cars from a stop light or two. Who will fight our future wars, the guy who watches “The Bachelor” while his wife pays the bills, or the guy who may have messed up and yelled a few cuss words to some poor schmuck at work that day? You choose. Or maybe the freedom to choose has passed us by. Perhaps because we are breeding a generation of men who are having their balls cut off. Yea, a generation of men who are preoccupied with getting in touch with their feminine side.

I say we are raising a generation of choir boys. Yes, choir boys with Girly Man Syndrome.

Look, there are just things that boys do. I’m listing them because I’m afraid we’ve all but forgotten them.

Boys fight

boys roughhouse

boys rip holes in their jeans

Boys build things

Boys fix things

Boys dream of war

Boys go to war

Boys are forever changed by war

Boys hold the door open for girls

Boys get dirty

Boys race

Boys play to win

Boys protect girls

And most importantly, boys look up to their dads to show them how to be boys, and eventually how to be men. Boys need their dads to tell them that boys don’t do some of the things that girls do. Boys need to see something in their dad that makes them want to be like him. And boys need to see their dads being real men. Otherwise, I can safely assure you that your way of life is all too temporary. It may not end with your life, but it may. And it will surely end within another generation or two.

Thanks for reading.


Color Blind Can Mean Seeing Things in Black and White


Before I begin, let me warn you, this is a troublesome subject that I bring you today; a subject that I’m reluctant to bring here at all. The topic is race. Yes, and speaking of such things is not a quick way to make friends. Perhaps you’ll give me the benefit of at least considering my thoughts. Please understand that above all, I seek to be respectful and reasonable, as well as open minded.


Also, I should tell you that I will be referring to black people as “black people”. I present two reasons for choosing the term. First, I’ve had many friends in the past who were black. Every one of these friends have told me that they would rather be called “black” than “African American”. Their reasoning was simple, and made good sense, “We’re not ‘Africans’”, they’d say. And in fact they weren’t. They were black people born in America.

Second, after Barrack Obama won the presidential election, Jay-z was quoted as saying these words… On second thought, I’ll not post that quote. It was a little out there. But Jay-z did write a “song” titled, “My President is Black”. Thus due to concrete evidence, I’ve concluded that black people in, general, are okay with the title “black”.

I didn’t recognize until after I posted this that it was Nick and Jessica in the Photo. Lol!


I can assure you that what I will write on the subject comes from a completely racially unbiased mind. I am speaking as a white man, thus I’m aware that I may be the only race existing within the US that lacks the freedom to speak of anything race related, and still remain within the proper confines of political correctness. You see, if a white man acknowledges the race of a black man, or hints at having any pride in his own race, he is called a racist. Thus I clearly understand that, being what I am, this is a tough subject to broach.

If I were black, not only could I speak freely on the subject of race, but I could boldly proclaim tremendous pride in my own race, and our accomplishments throughout history.

Imagine if I, again being a white man, were to sit in a news studio in front of a national audience, and say that I glean some sense of pride from being a part of the white community, and that I’m grateful for everything that white men and women have done throughout history. How do you think that would fly? Yeah, probably not too well. What if I were to recommend that we begin a “White History Month”, during which we could focus on all of the great achievements, not of men, but of white men? Lol.


Alright, stay with me. I’m about to make my point


I was raised in Southern Arkansas, in a small community called Spring Hill. My parents taught me to be unconcerned with race when it came to choosing friends and displaying general kindness. I use that term “unconcerned” because they did not teach me to be colorblind. There is quite a difference in being racially aware and being otherwise racially biased. Black people were black people and white people were white. Simple as that, and there was never and skirting or dancing around the subject. After all, things are what they are. Consider this: Presently I live in a community where there are no black people. The ridiculous KKK’s headquarters is right down the road, thus most black people have left the area, or simply stayed away to begin with. Because my children rarely see black people, it stands to reason that their first sighting was a bit of an issue. The first time my inquisitive son saw a black person, he asked if the man had fallen into some chocolate milk. Is my son a racist? No, he simply calls things as he sees them. My response was something like this, “No son, he hasn’t fallen in any milk”

“Then what’s wrong with him?” Alek asked.

Now, in response to this question, I suppose I could either have been completely pragmatic or completely reactionary.


Reactionary would have sounded something like this, “Alek, you shouldn’t speak of things about which you are clearly confused. There’s nothing wrong with that man, and asking silly questions of that sort only serves to put me in an awkward position.”


Pragmatic would have sounded something like this, “No Alek, there certainly isn’t anything wrong with him. He’s simply another race. There are many races found around the world, the nation, and even this community. The existence of many diverse cultures is one of the many things that makes the world such an interesting place in which to live. Would you like to meet him? No? Okay.”


But, oh no! No, we can’t do that. For the good of our children, we must be color blind. But if we are to be color blind, you see, then that is something that will have to go both ways. And, in order for that to happen, I’m afraid that many of the things that have become an important part of black culture will have to go by the wayside.

Now, I recognize, acknowledge, and clearly distinguish (respectfully) the race difference between white people and black people. Also, I am a firm proponent of racial equality. Not race ignorance, but an acceptance and even a celebration of our differences.

What I’m not okay with is our one-sidedness on the taboo subject of race and “color blindness”. My issue is with the fact that we continue, as a society, to observe and make allowances for an overwhelming bias toward clearly racially biased events, programs and material.

I’m speaking of such things as Black History Month, The Black Atlas (my god, imagine if we made a The White Atlas!), Black TV, etc.



Now hold on, hold on. Don’t bail just yet. Remember, I said “a bias towards”. In other words, I have no problem with these black observances. What I do have a problem with is the attitude that the black race is somehow on a plane of entitlement above my own race. There is a bias here, and the bias is that only the black race is allowed to openly take pride in being black. You see? That is my point. Not that I want to end these observances; instead, I think that if they are available for one, they should be available for all. And if they are not available to all then take them away from the one.

Balance is what I seek, no more singling out and hammering the issue of political correctness.

What do you think? I have an open mind here. If I need to be corrected, feel free to give it a shot.


Or perhaps you agree?




I Would Like to Thank my Mother And…


In the iconic words of America’s most beloved western hero and friend, John Wayne, upon winning the Oscar award for best actor, “I feel very grateful, and very humbled”.

And Sir Anthony Hopkins, “My god, I can’t believe it. It’s an honor to be here and I’m greatly honored and tremendously moved. And I… Well, God bless you all”.

And Cuba Gooding Jr., “Hallelujah, Oh here we go. I love you man! Everybody involved, I love you oh my god I love you! I’m going to keep going Oh my goodness  *dance* here we are and I love you, I love you, I love you! Oh…everybody!!!”



Dear Readers, I’ve just recently been informed that I’ve been given – not only once, but twice – the ever elusive VERSATILE BLOGGER AWARD! This is an extraordinary achievement pursued by many, but won by only a small handful of maybe four or five WordPress bloggers. I think you will agree when I suggest that this is a major award.



In a word, I have arrived 😀



Aside from God, my mother, and all of my readers, I want to thank Lolabees as well as blondgirl for this achievement, and for giving me the opportunity, for the first time, to approach all of you as a “real blogger”. I shall be monitoring my stats feverishly searching for any readers suspected of finding themselves too lazy to even click on Lolabees’ and blondgirl’s links to find out what they’re all about. These girls rock with style and a kind of “I’m here to stay” flare that renders you without excuse if you don’t at least go and have a look. So as Ben Stiller as Starsky would say, doit K? No, no Doit.


And now in keeping with the obligatory acceptance song and dance protocol, here are seven things about myself. Things that you may not know.



  1. I inspect water towers for a living.
  2. I often wonder why I can’t look away from bright headlights on the road. Am I just looking to see if their brights are on, or does my inner self have antlers?
  3. It wouldn’t necessarily make me sad if Polar Bears became extinct. I’m just sayin’.
  4. If I were a giant, I would step on Priuses for fun. Crunch crunch  🙂
  5. I identify closely with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
  6. My wife agrees with #5.
  7. I’m not talking to my wife right now.




And finally for those bloggers who have had the biggest impact. To you I respectfully tip my hat. And I’m only going with five. Well done sluggers.



Rangewriter. This is a tremendous writer who has impacted me more than anybody on WordPress. Her kindness, patience, and strength of character are clearly evidenced in her writing. This is my favorite post from her and it’s the post that drew me to her blog.



Lady bon bon.  This is a strange choice for me. But she is a model who writes about her life, giving her readers insight into a world that is far removed from all that is commonplace or familiar. She is also engaging, and happy to respond to questions. I’m glad I found her blog.



Of course, The Country Man’s Wife. You may have heard me talk about the blogs that I read when I’m in my hotel room and feeling a little alone. Those blogs which work well to take away the blues when I can think of nothing but getting home to my family. Well, her site is at the top of that list. Thanks Country Wife!


Anne Schilde. Read just one of her posts and you’ll see why she made the list. Here is my favorite!


Antigone’s Clamor. I hate to nominate her once again, but I like the way she thinks.







Thanks again everyone! I hope you clicked on, and enjoyed the links that I posted. Please celebrate this momentous occasion along with me by joining in with the party below and rejoicing with lots of comments! Hip hip… You finish it readers. This is your day too!



Wangsters. Choir Boys? Or Can They Handle the Job?


So, I was ordering lunch recently at Freddy’s – my new fav chain for awesome steak burgers and straw fries – when the manager walked by and we struck up a conversation.  It turns out that he (Mike) was a real nice guy and the conversation flowed along quite well. Keep in mind that Mike was a college grad with a four year stint in the Army under his belt. He looked kind of like this.





While Mike and I stood there talking about everything from what his future plans were to how ’bout them Hogs at the Cotton Bowl, in walked this guy.








And his bother…







Strutting like two men who had forgotten one of their boots, Wangster Mcflatbill and his bra, Darryl, were making a grand entrance. Both boys were wearing a type of hat with a bill that could double as a boat paddle, and Darryl had even remembered to wear his Miami jersey to complete his sartorial portfolio. They were here for that day of days. Yeah, that’s right, Momma was gonna be happy cuz her two boys was goin’ to interview fo dey feurst job!


“Hey mae, ya’ll all got a mainager up in heur? Or wud dat be you mae?”

Ahh, nothing like a little wangster talk let the boss know that you would never sneeze on a burger. Oh, and with that dialect, mouthy customers must certainly be your forte.


Now, there is a part of me that wants to cut the poor bastards some slack. That part of me is all too well aware that the deranged eyes of Mcflatbill and Darryl see this deceptive image in the mirror as they leave home every morning.






It is likely that they never had a proper mother to tell them, “No dear. You don’t look like Denzel’s badass cop character, Alonzo Harris. You look more like…. well, think Sacha Noam Baron Cohen (aka, Ali G.). Yeah son, you look kinda like this guy”.






I have a friend who shall remain unnamed who works as a manager for a very large company. One of his responsibilities at work is to interview new applicants. Before he held the position that he holds today, he was trained by the United States Marine Corps to pay attention to details. It was very interesting to listen, one day, as he explained to me how he really does take notice if someone has taken a little extra time to hammer out the details of their wardrobe before they come in for the interview. A pressed shirt; straight tie; shined shoes; he’s going to notice those things. They may not be the deciding factor, but that’s just it! They may be! The qualifications between you and the next guy might be so close that it really does come down to who was better prepared for the interview.

So in closing kids, I leave you this bit of wisdom. If you’re having trouble finding a good job, lose the wangster attitude, take the bolts out of your ears, and start to take yourself seriously. After all if you don’t take yourself seriously why should a prospective employer?


“…don’t be too serious about not taking yourself too seriously.
– Howard Ogden


Justice Served?


When I was in my early twenties, I was unjustly thrown in jail. I awoke one morning to find a team of local “SWAT” officials pointing shot guns at my head.

One year later, on the advice of my attorney, I signed a plea agreement which subsequently disappeared, and I was sentenced to spend the next thirty days locked in a jail cell.

I remember sitting next to my mom and dad in the court room that day. Court was just getting started, as the bailiff escorted several toothless, tactless, dirty women clothed in orange to the front of the courtroom. As those women sat in their seats, picking at their faces, scratching their elbows, sniffing and shifting nervously, I looked at my dad and shivered. My dad leaned over, “Isn’t that the most depressing scene you’ve ever witnessed?” I nodded slowly.

Moments later the hammer dropped and I was told to go sit next to the women in orange suits. The bailiff handcuffed me to the lady with stringy black and yellow hair. She continued to smack her toothless gums, taking no notice as the handcuffs clicked shut. I sat on display for over an hour while other cases were heard. I remember watching my mom and dad and the little girl who had been sitting on my other side, next to her parents. All of their faces shown with grief coupled with astonishment.

For thirty days I sat in a dark room with no windows; was surrounded by people whose minds had long since been destroyed by meth; would wake up to discover somebody taking a shit only inches from my head; was violently attacked and had to violently defend myself.

I was not, am not, and have never considered myself to be the “type” of person who goes to jail, so the whole experience was tilting to say the least.

While sitting on a stone floor that was stained with urine and mace spray, I scribbled these words onto a piece of paper. This was my first piece of writing outside of a classroom.



I am sitting here in silence, in this pit of bars and chains

There’s no pride left to boast of self, for here self-pity reigns

Perhaps I’ll place the blame on those who placed me in this hole

I know the blame is not for me, but for some other wicked soul

And if this song of pass the blame is what I choose to sing

Then I’ll walk the streets tomorrow, and I’ll not have learned a thing

But if perhaps I choose to think, while in my dark despair

Of all the wrongs I’ve done this week, the blame I’ll start to wear

Then when I am released out of this place of rampant sin

I’ll remember what I’ve learned here, and a knew life I’ll begin


Nathan Gray