The differing colors of the walls reflect the eons that the Colorado River has flowed through the Grand Canyon. Similarly, the wine corks Terri and I store in a five-gallon water bottle form layers that reflect our times together. When studying the corks, you realize that their pedigrees indicate when times were less prosperous: one layer will consist of corks from bottles of Robert Mondavi and Silver Oak wines; while the next layer will be those from Ernest and Julio.
During one of the Ernest and Julio periods—a time when we were worried about money and jobs—I was celebrating the New Year with friends in a home located on the Isle of Palms near Charleston, South Carolina. One early morning at a local gas station, I noticed a newspaper headline announcing that the head of Time Warner had passed away leaving a considerable fortune. As I read the story, suddenly it struck me: I was spending time and energy worrying about money, when the head of Time Warner would have given everything he had for what I had acquired for no cost…my good health.
I was surprised when a long-time friend informed me that he has a degenerative disease. He has always been the picture of health; never letting on that he has a problem that makes it difficult to stand and walk. He related to me, that years ago, when doctors told him that in a relatively short time he would be confined to a wheel chair and eventually bedridden, he informed them that they were wrong; he wasn’t going to let that happen and that he no longer needed them. He never went back to those doctors and he’s still walking. As he recounted his story, I was taken back by the courage it took for him to face each day and shameful of how I let incidents of little notice drive me to distraction.
The other day as I was taking my daily walk, my thoughts turned to the bad news we have been bombarded with: a terrorist bomb in Times Square; the stock market dropping; the oil spill threatening the gulf coast and the list goes on. Add the preceding to the economic trials we are facing—Great Recession my eye. In Florida, it’s the Great Depression—and it’s easy to get down in the dumps; to have a serious case of “woe is me.”
The market, oil spills, Greece—there is no profit in fretting about what you cannot control. Whenever these negatives intrude into my thoughts, I try to cast them out by focusing on what I can do: develop a new strategy to increase sales; determine where I can cut costs; identify and implement ways to better promote our services and the list goes on. Pondering about “what I can’t do” is negative, debilitating and destructive. Conversely, concentrating on “what I can do” is positive, invigorating and constructive.
I don’t have millions of dollars but I am possessed of wealth of which men of great means would be envious: good health, friends and a loving family. I have the God given ability to work, a great job working for wonderful people and friends who inspire me by refusing to give in to adversity. When I am the most productive, successful and satisfied is when I grasp just how blessed I am.
When I look at different layers in that bottle of corks, I am not going to dwell on the good and bad times. Instead, I am going to linger over memories of the wine: even the least of which was better than none at all.
“Water for oxen, wine for kings” –Proverb