After the Storm
The storm ended. The smell of rain was replaced with the smell of clean, fresh, rejuvenating air. The Earth had been cleansed, and so had my soul. I felt really lucky. Granddaddy was right! This day that I had just spent in the park with him had truly changed my life. I know now that I can’t have a rainbow without the storm. The secret is that I have to learn to appreciate the storm.
I looked up and noticed the beautiful rainbow that formed once the storm was over. I knew this wouldn’t be the last storm I’d have to face, but I still somehow felt luckier and more at peace with this world and myself. I walked away from the storm and my Granddaddy that day in the park feeling bigger, stronger, and more fortunate. Upon leaving, when I turned back to thank him, my mysterious Granddaddy had vanished. Somehow, I felt this vanishing act probably wasn’t uncommon for him.
I don’t know why, but I felt a sudden sadness. I mean other than this day in the park; I hadn’t really known him before. I sensed in the pit of my stomach that I might never see Granddaddy again. However, I now know him a little bit better. I know that he will be out there, somewhere, silently watching me. If I know my Granddaddy like I think I do, he’ll probably be eerily close, blending into a crowd unnoticed by me or anybody else.
This life-changing day I experienced in the park with Granddaddy forever altered my life for the better. Granddaddy was right. This is the first day of the rest of my life! And I do feel luckier now! For instance, I no longer just think I might be successful, but now I know I’m going to be successful. I’m going to live my life and do the things that I told Granddaddy I would do!
Since that day in the park, I have continued to visualize my success every morning while doing my newspaper route. Each morning while delivering newspapers I visualize in great detail the success I am going to have in both football and wrestling. So far it’s working! Although my wrestling team didn’t place in the states this past season, I did as an individual!
In addition, this school year my visualizing is paying off as well. The fall football season just ended and we made it to the second round of the playoffs. We fell just one game short of the championship game. Wrestling season is about to start and I’m visualizing every morning during my paper route that the same success my team and I had in football will also happen in wrestling for us!
I have to live my life in this successful way because I told Granddaddy that I would. I’m a man of my word. I’ve been told that a man is only as good as his word and reputation, so I plan on having a solid reputation as someone who is successful, someone who can be depended on, and someone whose word means something!
In addition to visualizing, I have also been studying the law-of-attraction. I know that thoughts become things. I am now cognizant of working on the discipline needed to control my thoughts and to focus on what I really want. I train my brain not to think negative thoughts, but to only think positive thoughts. I can only think about success and winning in life! I’ve learned that you can’t think two thoughts at the same exact time. For example, you can’t think of a negative thought and a positive thought at the same exact time. There isn’t enough room for both of them in your brain. I’ve trained my brain to think only positive thoughts in order to squeeze out the negative thoughts, and now that’s all I have room for in my brain and in my life.
By controlling my thoughts, I know that if I think about something positive, and think about it long enough, then I know I will eventually behave in a way that is consistent with getting or accomplishing that positive thing. I’ve read in several different places that actions or behaviors will follow thoughts. So if I can learn to master my thoughts, and I’m slowly learning to, then this will lead to me being able to control my actions or behaviors. If I learn to control my actions or behaviors, then I’m learning to control and create the future that I want, not the one that society leaves to me by default. Finally, if I learn to control and create my future then I’m learning to control and create my destiny!
I’ve been controlling my thoughts, actions, and behaviors in regards to football, and my team and I had a lot of success this year. I will be controlling my thoughts, actions, and behaviors for my wrestling season that starts tomorrow. Thanks to my habits of visualizing every morning, and controlling my thoughts, I am traveling further and achieving even greater things than I did last year as a 10th grader. I’m finally taking charge of my destiny!
Subsequently, I know that next year my sports teams will do even better than this year. Next year we will win state championships in both football and wrestling. In addition, I will be the captain of my football and wrestling teams. I will also win the individual state wrestling title at the 145-pound weight class.
Furthermore, thanks to Granddaddy, I have also gained a vision of success beyond high school. No more average for me. I now earn good grades and I have stretched my reach to the point that I am now visualizing receiving an acceptance letter from college. I know my future will be filled with an incredible amount of luck!I am feeling lucky and I am feeling good!
As Granddaddy and I had discussed last year, all this success may sound like a big order, cockiness, or even hubris, but it’s not. All of this success thinking is confidence and empowerment. Basically, it’s Granddaddy’s success secret of, Shooting for the stars and missing with the moon! It means going BIG, and if I fall a little short, that’s okay. Life shrinks or grows in proportion to our courage and self-confidence. Shooting for the stars is also about choosing to live the type of high quality life that one wants and deserves instead of accepting, usually by default, the one society leaves you.
I’m reminded of something the famed General Patton of WWII, once said, â€œFear kills more people than death. Death only kills once.â€ I’m not going to let fear, or lack of self-confidence, kill my dreams or my self-esteem anymore. I’m going to live my life to it’s fullest!
That day in the park last year with Granddaddy changed my life forever. I’ll never forget the lessons I learned that day with my Granddaddy. God bless him and protect him wherever he may be now!
One of the lessons Granddaddy taught me a lot about is preparation. I have tried, to the best of my ability, to prepare myself and apply all his life lessons in my vision quest for success and greatness. I think I have had a lot of success over this last year since we shared that magical day in the park. However, regardless of how well I have prepared myself, nothing could have prepared me for what I saw this morning.
Today is November 30th again, and it’s my 17th birthday and Granddaddy’s 77th. I had just finished my newspaper route and was wondering if Granddaddy would make a special appearance today. As always, I opened up the morning paper to see what was happening around the world. I quickly flipped from one page to the next scanning the headlines when something caught my eye. I saw a picture of myself wearing a military uniform in the obituary column. I gasped and my eyes widened. I suddenly broke out in a sweat. Words can’t describe how confused I was, or how I felt. I was speechless and dazed. I felt really warm and dizzy. My stomach turned and tied itself into a knot. How could I be dead? As I read the column, it slowly dawned upon me that this picture wasn’t me! It was actually a picture of Granddaddy in his military uniform 60-years ago!
In this obituary picture, Granddaddy was around my present age. He was a teenager. My memories from that day in the park with Granddaddy last year came roaring back to me like the sound of a WWII fighter plane diving in on it’s target. I remembered that Granddaddy had told me that he had run away from home and lied about his age in order to join the Army-Air Force at age 16. â€œThis picture could be his military enlistment picture?â€ I thought.
However, I still couldn’t believe my eyes. I rubbed my eyes and looked again. Granddaddy looked just like me when he was my age! No wonder he felt such a connection to me. When he looked at me, he probably felt like he was looking in the mirror and seeing himself as a young man again! It must have been like looking back into the past for him. He must have felt like he was traveling back in time 60-years ago every time he looked at me! I can only imagine the nostalgia, and the bitter sweetness of how he must have felt all these years watching me, his younger self, silently from afar! From his covert position within the crowds he lived in, he probably just wanted to put his arms around me, squeeze me, and never let me go, but he couldn’t. This just blows my mind! I never knew…
I suddenly felt my emotions welling up inside me. I could no longer control them. My emotions erupted like a volcano and it overcame me. Tears flowed over the lids of my sunken eyes and down the small hills of my cheeks. I couldn’t help it; this tough guy was crying! I cried for Granddaddy. I cried for me. I cried for that special day that we had together. I cried because we didn’t, and wouldn’t, have more of those magical days together. Most of all, I cried for all the wasted time in our past that we should have spent together, but didn’t.
I thought back to our time together during our special day in the park. That is where Granddaddy gave me that incredible gift, himself. His legacy lives on through me and his secrets of success. I wiped my tears away and smiled weakly trying to be strong.
I thought of Granddaddy watching over me and I did the best I could to wipe away my tears with the end of my shirtsleeve. I think I smudged newspaper ink across my face; it probably looked like volcanic ash and gave me the look of a dirty, worn survivor. Regardless, I knew I had to get on with the business of the day. I must become more successful today than yesterday.
I now live my life every single day by Granddaddy’s old Japanese mantra of self-improvement called Kaizen, and our American word C.A.N.D.I. that is Constant And Never-ending Deliberate Improvement. I know in my heart that Granddaddy is proud of me. In addition, I’m slowly becoming more and more proud of myself.
Though I haven’t seen Granddaddy since that life-changing day in the park last year, when I turned 16-years old, Granddaddy continues to teach me his secrets of success and life. At various times during the day, something he said that miraculous stormy day, will just pop into my head. Eureka! I would finally get it! Just like Granddaddy forecasted, I would finally have a deeper understanding of what he was trying to convey to me on that day in the park. Like some revelation or epiphany, it would just click and I would truly understand what Granddaddy was trying to teach me. It’s like my subconscious mind had been wrestling with Granddaddy’s secrets for the last year, and then at the right moment the gatekeepers of my subconscious mind had been worn down enough to now suddenly open and release this truer, deeper understanding to my conscious mind. And, BAM, like the great Buddha, I had been enlightened! This has helped me to consciously understand some things better now. When this happens, sometimes all I can say is, â€œWow!â€
I’ve had many of these goose bump, ah-ha moments since that day in the park with Granddaddy. Today’s obituary column, however, further drills home the lessons he taught me last year, especially the one about not wasting any more time with feelings of anger or resentment toward Pops or anyone else.
Since that day with Granddaddy, I’ve learned to try to always remember that those who hurt are hurting. I now realize that my Pops did the best job that he could with â€œthe toolsâ€ he had to work with at the time. Now I would have to do the best job that I can with â€œthe toolsâ€ I have to work with at this time in my life. I can only hope that someday my kids understand this too and if I fall a little short of their expectations they aren’t too quick to judge me!
However, I know that I can’t become complacent with the tools that I have to work with presently or I will stop progressing in life. To stop progressing and improving myself wouldn’t be prudent or fair to my future wife and children, and to my children’s children!
I’ve learned a valuable lesson from Dr. Stephen Covey and his best selling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Come to think of it, I’ve also heard he has written another book called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens. I’ll have to pick that one up soon! However, back to Dr. Covey’s best seller now. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Covey states that the 7th habit is to sharpen the saw. I’m always sharpening my saw, so that I have better tools to work with than my Pops did. I want to be able to give my future wife and kids a higher quality of life than Pops was able to give his family.
I remember my old friend from the past Abraham Lincoln, who once said, â€œIn the end, it’s NOT the years in your life that count… It’s the LIFE in your years…â€ I know I want to have a lot of life in my years for my future family and me. Granddaddy’s obituary column just reinforced this life-in-my-years philosophy for me. I want myself and everyone around me, even my Pops, to have that life in their years, too! Life is too short not to! Hence, I do the best I can everyday to sharpen my saw. I also encourage everyone around me to do the same so they can have the best possible tools to work with while they design their life, their future, and their destiny for themselves and their family.
However, I have to tell you that life certainly isn’t always this easy. Like others, I struggle from time to time, regardless of how much I sharpen my saw. Sometimes I need a little help or a little friendly encouragement. Thus, I always keep a book with me now. My book collection of famous and successful people now represents my old friends from the past. Goosebumps run up and down my spine when I think about how these friends have made a world of difference for me!
As I look down at my Booker T. Washington book, I remember reading what he preached. Booker T. Washington once stated, â€œI shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him.â€ After reading this my thoughts wandered to what Granddaddy said about how he had run away from an over-bearing, and cruel father by escaping to the military. Granddaddy also said that he forgave his dad for the harsh treatment and never again gave anyone the power over him of hating him or her.
I decided to follow Granddaddy’s example, and to walk in his GIANT footsteps. I’ve forgiven my Pops, and now call him, my dad. â€œDadâ€ just seems more endearing to me now. I looked to the sky as if Granddaddy was watching over me. Thanks again Granddaddy for setting the example, or maybe I should say, setting the standard for others to follow. I try to emulate you whenever I can. You truly are a leader and a trailblazer.
I have often followed Granddaddy’s well-worn path, and sage advice. I have read every book I can get my hands on. After all, leaders are readers, right? In addition to reading every book I can get my hands on, I also listen to audio books while I’m driving my new used car. I call my car â€œautomobile universityâ€ because I get free audio books from the public library and I’m constantly listening to and learning about things that are beyond high school while driving my car down the road. By doing this multi-tasking, I’m using my time more wisely, efficiently, and productively. I’ve dramatically increased the number of books I can read or be exposed to now, and I have saved a ton of money too!
I bought my new used car that has a tape/CD player for all the books I listen to with the money I saved from delivering newspapers before school and working at the gas station after school and sports. In addition, like Granddaddy, I live a simple man’s life by not spending everything I make, but rather saving as much of my income as possible. I even invest a little bit now, and that’s above and beyond my savings!
The way I’m living my life now is another invaluable lesson from Granddaddy and his WWII mentor, Colonel Reynolds. I’m starting to slowly understand how it’s best to shoot for the stars, which means the abilities, incomes, and bank accounts of the elite, while in contrast, living the lifestyle of a simple man. This way of living gives me a lot of options later in life that won’t be available to many of my classmates. It also eliminates a lot of stress that put others in early graves or, at the minimum doesn’t allow them to live up to their full potential as the miracle that our Creator intended us all to be. We should all know by now, our Creator doesn’t create junk!
In addition to reading and listening to every book that I can get my hands on, Granddaddy would also be proud of me because I am practicing another one of his secrets by talking to everyone I am able to meet. I am feeling lucky and I am feeling good to be practicing and living these incredible secrets of success at such a young age. I’m still a teenager! It’s like Granddaddy said, â€œDon’t wait until you’re my age to get it! You need to get it now! And don’t make any excuses to not get it now!â€ Well, I’m trying my hardest to get it now! I’m not making excuses, and I’m succeeding.
Granddaddy was right, I found that the more I read and the more I talked to people, the more they complimented each other and made the other easier to do. I also found the more I read and talked to people, the more I became convinced that I was not a loser condemned to a life of unhappiness because of conditions that were outside of my control. My past does not equal my future! Society and circumstances no longer control my life. My destiny is now in my hands and mine alone.
This reminds me of L.C. Robinson, the famed American blues singer, who once said, â€œThings may happen around you, and things may happen to you, but the only things that really count are the things that happen in you.â€ I can feel the good happening in me!
In addition, Dr. William James, the father of modern psychology, says, â€œWe are only half awake, and that we all live far within our own abilities.â€ I’m a junior now, so soon high school will be over for me. I will be out and about, and on my own in this great big exhilarating world. I will have the power to change my life and the life of others for the better if I chose to be fully awake and strive to live at the outer limits of my abilities. By living my life here, at my outer limits, my abilities are always growing and I’m heeding the lessons of Dr. William James.
After that stormy day in the park with Granddaddy, I finally understand that I can not only survive but also strive for anything that I truly want. I now set goals for myself so I can create my future in advance. I know my future will be as bright and beautiful as I decide to make it! And I’m deciding to make it GLORIOUS!
I will never forget the secrets that my Granddaddy and all his old friends from the past taught me that day in the park. Granddaddy was right. Now his mentors, or old friends from the past in all those great books, are also my mentors or old friends from the past too!
By voraciously reading about the lives of all these mentors or old friends from the past, I am pouring more than enough good stuff into my brain in order to cause it to overflow, thus causing a lot of good stuff to pour out of me in my thoughts, words, actions, and behaviors. I am becoming a positive and productive force!
In some ways, I feel like Granddaddy and I are still together.We both share the secret of Kaizen-the Asian word for improving everyday, and C.A.N.D.I.- the American word that means Constant And Never-ending Deliberate Improvement. These concepts of self-improvement have further cemented our connection to each other.
I’ll never forget that day in the storm last year with Granddaddy when everything changed, just as Granddaddy had said it would. It was a life-changing day and I am extremely grateful for the gift Granddaddy gave me. He taught me how to dream B-I-G and how to think about things like what would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail. Granddaddy taught me that life is something to celebrate and all effort, even failed effort, produces muscle!
I feel fortunate, and I am determined now to pay it forward to others for as long as I am living and breathing. I am using all of these success secrets that Granddaddy taught me, and even some more that I learned on my own since then, to become successful. Furthermore, I am continuously sharing these secrets of success with everyone I meet, especially other teenagers! I finally understand that one needs to teach to truly learn, and one needs to give to truly get.
Through these actions of mine, Granddaddy still lives! It’s like he’s living inside of me, guiding me. He is my compass in this crazy world that we all must live in. Sometimes I find myself talking like him. Sometimes I think I sound like him and wonder if it’s him or me that just said that. I’m passing on his greatness by succeeding. I’m doing well by doing good. And I’m teaching others to succeed through my actions and good deeds, with Granddaddy’s message recycled through my voice now.
Somehow Granddaddy knew what I was going through. Somehow he knew I had a tough life. I have often thought that maybe that is one of the reasons why he showed himself to me that day in the park. Maybe he wanted to pay for his past sins and help me get control of my life and destiny, and to help me become a better person, and not make the same mistakes that he and my dad made. The day he shows himself again, if he does, I need to thank him for all the things he told me and taught me. I want to give him the thanks I was unable to give him that day in the park. I want to thank him for being who he is, but most of all for being my Granddaddy. I hope that day comes soonâ€¦
Now I have to figure out, what happened to Granddaddy!