Good quotes and bad quotes

I’m always on the lookout for good quotes. To me, a good quote is like getting a hit of really good caffeine – something to get the blood energized. I don’t drink a ton of coffee – more of a tea guy, myself – so when I do partake of that java, I get a jolt. A major jolt. And once that hits, I use the added boost to either finish my tasks or sit and tremble thanks to the foreign substance running through my system. Thankfully, it’s the former that occurs most frequently.

Funny how words can have the same effect with people. We get a “buzz” when we hear some good words. And what’s even more amazing is how those words can last a lifetime – for good or for bad. A few choice words can dictate how we lead our lives – with fear or hope, for instance. Or a few choice words can dictate how we want to lead our lives – with hope being dominant over fear, I would imagine. It really is a crazy notion if you take a few moments to ponder that. Honestly, do so.

That’s why I love a good quote so much. Truth is truth and a good quote is always a good quote – so long as it resonates at our core. It may get recycled over the ages but what it holds as true becomes a beacon to each and every generation that dares to mutter its combination of vowels, consonants, and syllables. Can you think of a few that you live by? Any come to mind right away? Here’s a classic that I love:

“Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda.

George Lucas may have lost some fans with the Star Wars prequels – due to lackluster dialogue or maybe just effort – but his original trilogy made a zen master out of a tiny green man with pointy ears. Which, by no coincidence, is another testament to the power that words possess: how it sometimes doesn’t even matter who utters the phrase. Only that someone does. The most unlikely source becomes the light you were searching for and things are forever different after that. That’s powerful, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, some harsh or bad words will do the same. You know, like every line you heard in a cheesy horror film or some venomous things a person spat your way. I could list a few but I think you get the idea. Those will burn deep inside, but hey, here’s the silver lining: somewhere out there, there’s some good words just waiting to be heard. And chances are – if not by chance at all – you’ll hear them and get that jolt to get moving again. Uprooting the crap of old, and moving forward with the new. That’s what a good quote; well, a good word of encouragement, will do for you.

So, know of any?

Talents and gifts we wish we had

Short break from the story writing here. A few more thoughts I’ve had since I’m almost through with Spirit Run. Reflecting on the stories I’ve written has really opened up some good observations, I feel. Especially with the type of week I’ve had.

I believe every person has a talent. Yes, each and every one of us has a gift of some kind. That sounds like some cheesy Hallmark card, but it’s the truth. The usual list of suspects come to mind – singing, dancing, sports, etc. You know, the ones that get glorified in social media and late night television. There are other, “less glamorous” talents though too; just as important and in some ways, even more important: leading, teaching, mentoring, organizing, building, puzzle-solving, navigating, etc. So you see, there are plenty of talents out there. I’m sure you have one. But even so, and despite the talent you’ve been given, we still find time to covet someone else’s gift. Somewhere there’s a skill, an ability, or even a trait that we wish we had. We look at this person’s gift and we covet it greatly. We want it for our own. Ever feel that way? Oh, I’m sure you have.

Mine is drawing.

I royally suck at drawing. Not just a mediocre, average kind of sucking – I’m talking the royal kind. Granted, I can trace things. I’m pretty good at tracing objects. So long as I’m provided a piece of paper lying over top of the intended image, I’m fine. Oh, and I have to be able to see through that paper clearly too. Then I’m good as gold. But stick me with a pencil and paper and ask me to come up with an original piece of work and I’m sunk. It’s just not gonna happen. I can see the picture in my head, but the translation I create on paper is so heavily filtered that it looks like a tank rolled through a war zone.

I recall being asked to make a self portrait in the 11th grade. I thought it was an opportunity to finally hone my skills and convince myself that I had some artistic talent. Well, what did happen was something resembling microwaved jello. Ugh. Was I really that bad?

Yes. Yes, I was.

And still am to this day. There are times where I have isolated moments of triumph though. A friend of mine asked me to draw a stick figure on his paper once. I accomplished that feat quite nicely from what I remember. Beyond that? Well, I haven’t had much success. So drawing is my kryptonite. The one thing I will probably never be able to do, but covet all the same. And I hate that.

It’s the great tragedy of my generation. With so many options on our plate, we think we ought to have all of the talents out there. And if we aren’t keeping up with the person next to us, then we ought to be trying harder. But I would say otherwise – along with so many others, I’m sure. Why waste time trying to be a banker when you love to cook? Why try to be a guidance counselor when you hate hearing other people’s problems? And why try to draw your work when you’re made to write it? No one person can do it all.

As a writer, I need others to help get ideas out. I will need those who are gifted in editing, gifted in publishing, gifted in teaching, and so on. And while that’s going on, I know other people will require my talents to help get their own ideas out. Or at least make sense of those ideas by putting them into words; words they couldn’t come up if they tried to do it themselves. See how that works? It’s a great feeling when you come to that realization – the epiphany that your gifts can and will be used to their utmost capacity if you’ll allow for it to happen.

But first, you have to hone the gift that’s yours. Only then will you find yourself not coveting everyone else’s, wondering if what you’re doing is right or not. That’s a road to real satisfaction. Cheesy Hallmark card and all.