Gig on a Rig Tip #2: Don’t Worry Be Happy

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.  ~Abraham Lincoln

Don’t worry, Be Happy. I remember when Bobby McFerrin released that chart topping hit in 1988. I remember it mostly because Heidi’s son, who was 7, loved it! I thought it was kind of catchy but trite. And I thought he only loved it because he was 7.

I’ve come to think he loved it because he was smarter about some things back then than I was – things like how worry will rob you of happiness. If you don’t remember the song or if you do, this is a mini-version (all my limited internet can handle):

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I tried to address the Don’t Worry part with Tip 1. Be Flexible but I’m adding Be Happy. I’ll be honest here, I used to roll my eyes when I heard people say things like Happiness is a Choice. I didn’t discover the truth of it until years and years after Bobby McFerrin’s song.

Of course everyone is circumstantially unhappy sometimes. Bad things happen. Sad things happen. But there are people who have a happy constitution. Others not so much and y’all know the type. Just like being happy seems to come naturally to some folks, it’s as foreign as French to others.

I was reading a blog a while back  written by a writer who keeps a list of things that annoy him. It’s a long list. It’s a growing list because once you start looking for things that annoy you it’s real easy to become a collector.

Anyway, this whole Be Happy spiel is a bridge between Tip 1. Be Flexible and Tip 3. I Recommend Pleasant – which I’ll write about tomorrow if the internet is happy and smiling on me after sunset.

Those who can laugh without cause have either found the true meaning of happiness or have gone stark raving mad.  ~Norm Papernick

What Happens Wednesday Morning?

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
~Abraham Lincoln

When I was in college, many of my professors were partial to blue book exams. I got the first C of my academic life my freshman year in my Intro to Political Science class. The semester final was a blue book with just one question. Why is American in more danger from attacks within than attacks from outside our borders?

This was in 1979. We were experiencing a time of relative peace and prosperity as a nation. I looked at the question – 50% of my grade for the semester – and had no idea what the answer was. I eventually filled my 6 pages with everything I could think of that Dr Loy might be alluding to which, based on my grade, read like the drivel that it was. I simply didn’t know. I have a better idea what he meant today.

Hopefully, by Wednesday morning, the election will be over and the man who will serve as the President of the United States for the next fours years will have been selected. Wednesday morning some percentage of the country will be very happy. Probably about the same percentage will believe the end of the world is near. Regardless of the outcome, I’m guessing the majority of Americans will be slightly optimistic or slightly disturbed or slightly indifferent.

This isn’t really a post about politics. It’s a post about attitudes and civility and camaraderie. It’s a post about baseball and apple pie. My Dad was a very good baseball player. He was good enough to be named Outstanding Athlete his senior year at Indiana State and good enough to play semi-pro ball.

One of his younger friends was better. Dad coached him when he tried out for the Major Leagues. His friend left baseball and became famous for other reasons. His name was Birch Bayh. If you’re not from Indiana, that may not ring a bell. He represented Indiana as a Democratic Senator from 1963-1981 when he lost to a Republican, Dan Quayle.

My Dad liked Birch. I don’t know if he voted for him or not. Dad was a life-long Republican. I do know that he only had kind things to say about him. I guess what started me thinking about my Dad and Birch Bayh was an interview with Chuck Hagel, the retired Republican Senator from Nebraska. He said:

Gone from our political scene today are the World War II generation leaders. Now those were men and women, Democrats and Republicans, of significant character who always put America first. They didn’t put their parties first. They put America first. They understood their responsibility to help govern our country, find consensus on the big issues, solve the problems and move our country forward. They were never confused about that.

Dad is in the back row, center.

Birch’s son, Evan, became Indiana’s 46th Governor and then was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1998 to the seat that was once held by his father. He chose not to run for a 3rd term and became a Fox News contributor in 2011. Yes, he’s a Democrat and yes, I did say Fox.

My Dad and Birch Bayh were Christmas card friends. Their card to us was always a family photo. Evan and I are just a year apart. I always had a  pretend crush on him. I looked at those Christmas cards a lot!

I never met the Bayh’s, but I recently read Evan’s reflections on the changes in the political climate in Washington between the time his Dad was first elected in 1963 and when Evan decided not to run again in 2011. Speaking of his Dad he said:

It really was a different generation. There was trust. There was camaraderie that people had forged together by casting tough political votes. My father’s first re-election was in 1968. You can’t imagine this today. The leader of the Republican caucus came up to my father on the floor of the Senate, put his arm around his shoulder and asked what he could do to help with his re-election. You would never see this today. That sense of camaraderie, of country first, it’s dissipated and our nation is suffering because of that.

Evan’s right. It’s just about impossible to imagine that happening today and that’s sad.

With Malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds. ~ Abraham Lincoln

What happens Wednesday morning is up to us. What if we take President Lincoln’s advice and begin to bind up the nation’s wounds? Maybe we can find our way back to camaraderie and civility? I don’t think we can wait for it to start in Washington. I think it’ll have to start with We, the People. It’s as American as baseball and apple pie.

Patriotism Not Politics

We moved yesterday – no HUAD, no hitches (except the one we needed which held nicely). I’ll write more about that later. I wanted to take just a couple of minutes to say thank you.

I heard on the early morning news that today, Memorial Day, is fast becoming one of our nation’s top 3 favorite holidays after Christmas and the 4th of July –  exceeding even New’s Eve and Thanksgiving. I was amazed! We’ve become so politically polarized that I’d thought possibly patriotism was slipping.

No worries, I’m keeping my word about no politics or religion here at Fork. This isn’t a political post. It’s a patriotic post. Sometimes I think we’ve mixed those two things up. Do you know what I mean?

I’ve always been sort of weirdly patriotic, even when I was really little. I don’t think I was in school yet when my picture made the front page of the Middlebury, Indiana newspaper. The photographer didn’t snap the shot because I was cute. He took a picture of me because every day, I walked to the post office, stood out front, put my hand on my heart and said The Pledge of Allegiance, all by myself, right out loud.

I have no idea why I did this. I guess the folks inside the post office got a kick out of it and called the paper.

The first time we went to Mt Rushmore, my Mom and Dad had to drag me away (after the nightlight show). I loved it!

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This morning’s reporter went on to explain Americans love for this holiday. It turns out we love Memorial Day because it’s considered “the big kick off to summer vacation” weekend. It doesn’t have anything to do with patriotism at all. It’s a grand paid day off work and an opportunity to do a little traveling.

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6 months before my Dad died, I took him to a Memorial Day tribute to Veterans. At the end of the ceremony, they called out each branch of the military and had the veterans stand. They sat down as their war was named. My Dad was the last Marine standing at age 86. He cried that day. He said that it was so nice to be remembered. So nice to be thanked.

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My Dad on the right

This  is just a brief thank you note on Memorial Day to those of you who are Veterans; to those of you who have family and friends serving in the military; to those who have lost ones you love on a battlefield somewhere.

Memorial Day isn’t about the politics of war, it’s about gratitude.

There are no “holidays” on an oil rig, but there are ways to say thank you, every day. Today it’s my turn to say thank you to our Veterans. I love the heart of this holiday. The thank you from America to all who, as Abraham Lincoln said, have done far above our poor power to add or detract

Thank you.