As a young boy back home in Oklahoma, one of my earliest memories of my father was of watching him shoot the breeze with good ole boys around the bed of his pick up truck. Usually, I was sitting in the middle, being seen not heard as I listened to the pearls of wisdom that were shared. I had a big black dog named “Killer” and he was usually within an arms reach of me at any given time, especially when I sat there, in the back of that truck listening to my father and his friends speak about current events and try to solve the problems of the world.
There were expressions they all used that conveyed their sentiment in such a way that the meaning was automatically understood; although as a young boy, I never really knew what they were talking about, much less the subject. I did remember some of the expressions though. My dad would often say, “Only time will tell,” Or “Don’t get your hopes up,” or “Hope for the best, expect the worst.”
The other day my younger brother Clay used an analogy that I had forgotten. Clay wrote to me on face book in response to my last blog post, “Six Thousand Miles Later.” He wrote in response to my complaint that, despite all the success I had experienced, I still had not achieved the extraordinary success that is in my heart. He simply wrote, “It is like a thunderstorm.”
I thought about that for a while and he is correct, success is like a thunderstorm. We start with the clouds building and then most certainly there will be a flash or two of lightning. Then we may get a little precipitation and high winds. There may even be a tornado that comes along and wipes everything out, and then a deluge of rain, some hail. When it is all over, if we survive then inevitably the sun will come out and shine brightly. If we are lucky, a rainbow may appear.
I saw a picture of a double rainbow that appeared over Joplin just after the storm had passed. I thought that is Gods way of saying, “There is still hope!” Hope is something that we all cling to. Hope that things will work out. Hope that the storms in life will pass. Hope that we have chosen the right path. Hope that we will succeed. I hold out hope for my wife, for my kids, for my family. Hope for my country and our soldiers. I think we all cling to that word a great deal and by doing so we are able to make a difference in the lives of others.
The other day a young man asked me for advice as he had just joined the army and so I shared a few thoughts with him. “Keep your hopes high and your expectations real. Do one thing everyday to make things better for yourself and your unit. Always, always keep things on the up and no matter what, never quit. If things get really tough say, feet don’t fail me now and drive on. If you are wondering how it will be? Know that only time will tell and never, ever forget about your family. They are the ones that will be there for you when it is all said and done.”
I sure miss my dog, “Killer” but that is a different story.