We dropped our oldest child off at college today…

img_5332-119 years and 21 days ago, Our son Blake came into our lives. Today he started college. Whether you’ve had that experience or not, it’s a big step.

Here’s my take:

I cried a little the day before Blake graduated from high school. Today didn’t hit me as a cry day. It seems like there’s just too many amazing opportunities and too much excitement. It’ll definitely be adjustment time for all of us as this new normal sets in. For now, though, it’s nothing but grand life opportunities ahead.

I’ve wondered about whether he is ready for life. There’s still a lot of growing and learning left to do. I believe he’s ready for this step, though. I saw a glimpse of God telling me “he’s going to be alright” during a recent whitewater kayaking trip a few weeks ago.

When it comes to true whitewater, we’re both relative newbies. We decided to take our boats out late in the afternoon and make a run. It didn’t take long for me to roll my boat and have to get out in the middle of the river. It’s an eye opening experience to be in that position, trying to keep up with a kayak, a paddle, keep your head above water, all while working as hard as you can to get out of the current.

When I finally recovered… I looked around for Blake, who is an infinitely better paddler than I am.

I glanced down the river and finally saw him, about 100 yards away, in about the same condition as I had been. It hit me at that moment that there was literally nothing I could do to help him… he was on his own… with only our previous training and a life vest I bought him to help.

I pulled my boat out of the water… ran to the car and drove down river to try and catch him. I found him, only a few minutes later, pulling his kayak up from the river, looking like a wet rat, but smiling ear to ear. As we gathered up our gear and assessed bumps as bruises, it struck me, again, that Blake is going to be just fine.

We’ve done about all we can for him at this point. His Mom and I couldn’t be any more proud of the young man he’s become. All parents say that… none mean it more than we do.

We believe we’ve given him life preservers of all shapes and sizes… and we think he’s ready for most of the whiatewater rapids that are downriver from here. He’ll probably hit a roller every now and then but that’s just life. He’ll be able to get to the shore and dry off if he needs to.

And that’s what we do for kids. We owe it to them to give them our best. I certainly got more than I deserved from my parents when I was trying to figure out this thing called life… and now we’ve pushed our first out, off the shore, and into the current.

It’s a push of Faith but we know God’s in control.

His room at home will be quiet for a while, and that’ll take some getting used to… but oh how sweet Thanksgiving will be this year!

We’ll have a college student home to visit! And off we go… to the next chapter.

A comment on our lifeboat…

So it’s times like these that people in the public arena can really make a name for themselves… one way or the other. Say too much and earn an ugly moniker that may never get outgrown. Don’t say enough and miss the opportunity to “be a leader.” In the end, they’re all just words that evaporate daily like the morning dew in late August.

It’s for both of those reasons that I’ll try to stay above the specifics of recent events, tragic and unfathomable as they are.

In the larger sense I think we need to consider the impact of events like those in recent days ultimately have on this lifeboat we call the United States of America.

First- the facts:

Total square miles in the USA? 3.8 million.

Total population in the USA? 323 Million… and growing.

As a matter of fact, the Census Bureau maintains a pretty cool clock of births, deaths and immigrations into the US Right Here. I have no idea how accurate it is, and I have a feeling they don’t, either, since the baseline is the census data last gathered almost 8 years ago.

Regardless- some of their assertions are:

One birth every 8 seconds

One death every 12 seconds

One international migrant (net) every 33 seconds

Net gain of one person every 12 seconds

So… our population is growing. No surprise, right? The point? Our geography isn’t changing. We’re all in this together… living in some portion of the inhabitable 3.8 million square miles of the US. As we grow and become more diverse (key point alert) we must become more respectful of diverging opinions. Must. It’s not complicated. If we don’t, we’ll… well let’s just leave it at “must”. It’s a mathematical fact… and I’m not much of a fan of math.

So… to tie those thoughts together, we need to realize, and admit, that we all have bias. It’s a result of our maturity process, or lack thereof in some cases, and the environment(s) we have been exposed to. None of our experiences have been the same and not many would want to go back and change anything, even if we could.

Add to this thought that most people are proud of who they have become. We believe strongly in our positions, probably never more so than here in the 21st Century where we do our best to prove it, sometimes through the amazing tool of social media. The result of these times and technology tools is the potential for a serious divergence of opinion on a nationwide scale. Overnight.

So what was it about the lifeboat thing? Bottom line is that we must exist together and somehow get past the things we perceive to be ugly and vile. Offended? Disagree? Hang on, I’ll explain.

The reality is that what you perceive to be unnerving, others may view as palatable. The things that “shake your inner being” may be open and acceptable to someone else. Truth.

No matter the issue, and I’m doing my best to not get specific, someone will inevitably view it as acceptable while someone else will disagree. Is that engaging in dis-unity or creating a lack of acceptance? Only if we let it and, believe it or not, some people and even industries thrive on that dis-unity for some very selfish and short-sighted reasons.

Unity, acceptance, diversity and all of the other buzz words that get tossed around must be used for everyone, that is, if they’re going to be used for anyone.

Why is that important? Because these United States are mine AND yours. If you think it’s ok to scream “F the Police” as a form of protest, then you and I are going to disagree.

I’m not a fan of that. No one in the circles I roll with (and my circle usually turns in earlier than we used to, btw) will, either. Am I going to light a torch or brandish some form of a weapon as a result of my disagreement with you? Nope. Will someone? Apparently. Then what? More protests?

-or-

Do we decide to agree to disagree, in the name of true respect, unity and acceptance?

If we do the latter, in short order, and respect the public discourse we can then get back to building infrastructure, molding our next generation, loving our kids, being good role models for them, reducing the national debt, solving world hunger, supporting good government, finding those who should be in elected office and generally just making our world a better place.

As for me and mine, I’m for building a better United States, leaving it better than I found it, helping it to become truly more accepting and just getting over the rest of it, all in the best interest of the Common Good

Here’s the deal, though, you have to do the same. It can’t cut just one way.

Lord knows we have bigger issues to resolve than finding another online or public comment to get mad about and light a torch or grab a can of spray paint.

If we don’t focus on the bigger issues, learn from our past, and ultimately move on, this lifeboat may start sinking, or worse, capsize.

And that’s One Man’s Opinion.

Yes… this was me… but I was just doing my job (and maybe having a little fun, too)…

The truth and reality is that I had no idea Jeff Haden was a thing. Turns out he writes about some neat stuff! 

Maybe you should follow his posts on Inc.Com

To that end, he had a good trip home not too long ago:

A little story about a Delta pilot doing what Delta pilots do…

By way of explanation… Jeff felt the need to “diss” (not a big fan of that word, but it fits) Delta a little. 

Reality is that when we’re at work, doing work things, the Company is actually very protective of the team. Jeff could have gotten my name on the day of the flight… and I’m not really hard to find after that… but since that didn’t happen… as they say, it just gets complicated. That’s the world we live in!

In the flying business, as well as business in general, here in the Information Age, you never know when the next “Insta-Post” may go virally negative, so protection of potentially sensitive info is the result. Regardless, it wasn’t long ago that little exchanges like the one Jeff wrote about were commonplace. As a matter of fact, I think they still are pretty regular… but we’ve all just gotten a little “too busy” to catch them when they happen. 

So… thanks for the visit and kind words, Jeff. All the best to you and yours. Hope to see you out on the road again soon.

My first Blog Post

So… they call it a “Blog.” Ok. I’ll try it. 

I guess the bottom line is that I think a lot. I read more than I used to… and that leads to thinking a little more. I have to do something with all of that thinking! So a blog it is!

Given that fact… it’s interesting that the day I decide to start a Blog (is it “B”log or “b”log?) is the day I woke up in St. Louis, staying in a hotel that’s one block from the Gateway Arch to the West.

You probably know that the arch in St. Louis is very, very close to the point where Lewis (different spelling, no relation) and Clark launched their Corps of Discovery Expedition to the West. Seems rather apropos to begin a new blog from the base of this monument. 

Want to know more about the arch and tired of my blog already? Understood- more history here: 

Gateway Arch 

…But I hope you’ll come back!

For the rest of you… thanks for reading. I don’t claim to know it all. I’ve seen some great and magnificent things. I’ve also seen a little less-than-magnificent, too. I’ll do my best to focus on the former more so than the latter as I ponder life, politics, other people’s missives and this grand experiment called the United States of America.

So… off we go… on a Blog mission of Discovery. See you soon. 

Btw- have some fun today, would you! God gave today to you as a gift! Everybody likes a gift… and He gives you one all the time! Enjoy!