Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.
I went to a Council on World Affairs dinner the other night where we received a report from a highly regarded seismologist on the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake. He was down there shortly after the quake to do an assessment. He shared a lot of information as to why there was so much devastation and so much loss of life. But he also commented on the resiliency of the Haitian people especially the children.
He showed a video that he made while living in one of the tent cities a few days after the disaster that showed laughing children. While it has been many years since I visited Port Au Prince and surroundings I have always remembered how so many of the people I met demonstrated a capacity for joy even though they had almost nothing, few even had shoes.
As I have thought about it I have come to believe that the adversity thrust upon people during their lifetime conditions them to deal with whatever comes their way. I don’t mean it is easy, far from it, but it does have a way of bringing focus to what is important and what is not. I never really believed it when people told me that the poor have the capacity to be happy while the rich often do not, but now I think there is some truth to the belief.
As I think back to my childhood when my brother and I were sent away to a farm school for kids from broken homes where we were only allowed to go home once a year between Christmas and New Years and then later how I washed dishes to earn enough money to pay a weekly tuition to a private institution when I was 15 years old I now realize how the experience made me appreciate the little important things in life more than I would have otherwise. Of course I wish I had not felt the pain that accompanied the loss of friends and loved ones over the years. And while it would have been easier if I had not made as many mistakes or had behaved a little bit better in the early years I now know that my life would not be as good as it is today without those experiences. It is almost as if life’s challenges leave one with something like the oxidation on a fine piece of sculpture that results in a patina that adds depth and luster to the piece making it even more beautiful.
I have half jested over the years when I told folks that the challenges that we face are character builders, now I think I understand that they really are. It is not easy to pull ourselves up after a disaster but when we do we become a better person than we were. The adversities that we face teach us to appreciate what is really important and to understand that everything won’t be as we want it to be but we have the ability to make the best of what we have.
I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!
A rabbi said to a precocious six-year-old boy: “So your mother says your prayers for you each night? Very commendable. What does she say?”
The little boy replied, “Thank God he’s in bed!”
Daddy, where did I come from?” the seven-year-old asked.
It was a moment for which her parents had carefully prepared. They took her into the living room, got out the encyclopedia and several other books, and explained all they thought she should know about sexual attraction, affection, love, and reproductions. Then they both sat back and smiled contentedly.
“Does that answer your question?” her father asked.
“Not really,” the little girl said. “Marcia said she came from Detroit. I want to know where I came from.”
Time may be a great healer but it’s also a lousy beautician.
Dear Mom and Dad,
I feel miserable because I have to keep writing for money. I feel ashamed and unhappy. I have to ask for another hundred, but every cell in my body rebels. I beg on bended knee that you forgive me.
Your son, Marvin.
P.S. I felt so terrible, I ran after the mailman who picked this up in the box at the corner. I wanted to take this letter and burn it. I prayed that I could get it back. But it was too late.”
A few days later he received a letter from his father. It said,
“Your prayers were answered.
Your letter never came!”
“Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?”
Two guys are driving through Texas when they get pulled over by a state trooper. The trooper walks up, taps on the window with his nightstick, the driver rolls down the window, and the trooper smacks him in the head with the stick.
The driver says, “Why’d you do that?
The trooper says, “You’re in Texas, son. When I pull you over, you’ll have your license ready.”
Driver says, “I’m sorry, officer, I’m not from around here.”
The trooper runs a check on the guy’s license, and he’s clean. He gives the guy his license back and walks around to the passenger side and taps on the window. The passenger rolls his window down, and the trooper smacks him with the nightstick.
The passenger says, “What’d you do that for?”
The cop says, “Just making your wishes come true.”
The passenger says, “Huh?”
The cop says, “I know that two miles down the road you’re gonna say, ‘I wish that guy would’ve tried that crap with me!'”
Brain cells come and go but fat cells live forever.
“My girlfriend came up to me the other day and introduced me to one of her male friends, and at first I didn’t mind, since I’m not the jealous type. I just wish she hadn’t started calling him “Sweetie” and living with him and having his kids and marrying him and stuff. It’s really starting to make me wonder if she wants a future with me or not.”
Love your enemies. It makes them so damned mad.
The priest was at the side of a dying man. Whispering firmly, the priest said, “Denounce the devil! Let him know how little you think of his evil!”
The dying man said nothing.
The priest repeated his order. Still the dying man said nothing. The priest asked, “Why do you refuse to denounce the devil and his evil?”
The dying man said, “Well, if you really want the truth, until I know where I’m going, I don’t think I should make him mad!”
You are fortunate if you have learned the difference between temporary defeat and failure, more fortunate still if you have learned the truth that the very seed of success is dormant in every defeat that you experience.
Stay well, do good work, and have fun.
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