Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Lost Art Simplicity

 
The Lost Art Simplicity



As I younger man I did not understand the importance of simple life.


I was driving a truck for a construction company back in the early 90’s and I had to make my first of what would be many trips to Iuka, MS.


Well, to get to Iuka, MS you first have to drive through NOWHERE Alabama.


Just a few miles outside of NOWHERE Alabama, I started to approach a big steel bridge that crossed the southern tip of Tennessee River and new I must be getting close.

 

That’s when I saw the sign…………

 

BAIT…..ICE……BEER.

 

How can you possibly deny quality advertising like that?

 

I pulled my truck in and stepped inside.

 

There was a man in his nineties behind the counter sitting on a bar stool eating boiled peanuts.

 

Sir, is Iuka over that bridge?

 

Son, I’ve lived here my whole life…..I ain’t never been over THAT bridge.

 

 

 

At 22 years old, I didn’t understand WHY someone would want to live such a simple life.

 

At 42 years old, I want to understand HOW I can live such a simple life.

 

 

 

So I have decided that I need to:

 

STOP,……….LOOK,………………and LISTEN

 


If I can share one thing with you that you take away today it would be :

 

To  STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN.

 

If it sounds familiar, that’s because every one of us was taught to do this at railroad tracks as kids, and have since taught our kids, and perhaps in some cases grandchildren, to do the same.

 

But it’s not just a best demonstrated safety practice.

 

It also can be the key to living a more simple, less complicated, life.

 

STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN.

 

There are usually two ways that your life can get simplified:

 

·        You can make some difficult choices and break things down to basics

·        Or, Life can do it for you

 

 

I have experienced it in both ways.

 

 

In January of 2007 the younger of my two sons, Michael, who was then 5 years old, was riding his scooter in the driveway, with his helmet on mind you, and had a fall.

 

Being that kids that age are made of rubber, after a few minutes of tears he was back on his feet laughing with his older brother.

 

 

The next morning he had a huge bruise, and a raging fever.

 

Dr. Mom stepped in -

 

She STOPPED, LOOKED, AND LISTENED.

    

She took him the pediatrician. X-rays were clear, but he had a high white blood cell count, as if his body was fighting an infection.

 

            Had he recently had a cold?’

 

            ‘No’

            ‘Flu?’

            ‘No?

 

The Pediatrician

 

            STOPPED, LOOKED, AND LISTENED.

 

 

He asked us to take him down to the Hospital E.R.,because he was worried that Michael may have had some fluid in his hip that was causing an infection.

 

We saw eight different doctors in the ER that night before being admitted to stay overnight. All they knew was that something was up with his blood.

 

After four days and what seemed like hundreds of tests later, they asked to take a bone aspirate.

            ‘A bone what?’

‘A bone aspirate, Mr. Byrd. We want to remove a sample of your son’s bone marrow out of his femur’.

‘And……..why exactly do you want a piece of my son’s leg bone’.

 

            We would like to rule out cancer.

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

I hadn’t slept in days and my head was spinning, but at that moment,

 

 

            I STOPPED, LOOKED, AND LISTENED

 

They were not able to rule out cancer.

 

In fact his bone marrow was 98% cancer cells.

 

The diagnosis was Leukemia.

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

            ‘Now tell me something Doc, how do you get cancer from falling off a scooter?’

 

            ‘You don’t Mr. Byrd, the scooter fall just allowed us to diagnose it sooner.’

 

            ‘So what would have happened if he had not fallen, if Dr. Mom had not taken him to see the pediatrician, and if the Pediatrician had not STOPPED, LOOKED, AND LISTENED?’

 

            Well, in three to four weeks your son would have gotten very sick, and the success rate of treatment would have been quite lower.’

 

Needless to say, that Pediatrician is forever on my Christmas card list.

 

But everything changed that day, life became very simple.

 

Not by choice. But by life happening.

 

The first thing it did was simplify my calendar. It wiped it clean.

 

For several months my calendar consisted of two things – at the hospital sleeping on a chair next to my son or at home comforting his older brother.

 

Eventually my son was able to come home to continue his treatment, which consisted of 3 and half years of pills, doctor appointments, and more extended hospital stays.

 

 As we realized this would be a marathon, not a race, the doctors encouraged us to start adding things back into our lives; activities, commitments, hobbies in order to begin what they called “A New Normal.’

 

And while we could have just taken the same old / pre-diagnosis activities and refilled our bucket, we took the opportunity to:

 

STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN.



 

Reflecting on the most difficult years of my life I realized how much I had learned –

 

·        I had a lot more endurance that I ever thought imagined.

 

·        Many people, some I had never met, went to extreme lengths to help me and my family

·        Helping someone else can get you out of your own head and escape a cycle of self-pity

·        And that God was doing some amazing things in my life, and always had been

I just had to STOP, LOOK, AND LISTEN.

 

 

 

So I made a decision that I was going to be more intentional about what I allowed back into my life, into my schedule, and into my heart.

 

·        Exercise – took the added endurance I now felt and used it to make some healthier decisions

o   I STOPPED, LOOKED, AND LISTENED to what my body was telling me

 

·        Mission trips – help someone else, get out of your own head

o   Through all the projects, construction, and work, the thing that people seemed to appreciate the most was when I would:

§  STOP, LOOK, AND LISTEN.

 

 

o   Sharing my mission trip experiences led to a passion for Lay preaching

§  Helping others to STOP, LOOK, AND LISTEN

 

·        Re-connecting with my family

o   Now that we were spending less time discussing logistics and pill schedules

o    

o   We were able to focus on relearning how to STOP, LOOK, AND LISTEN to EACH OTHER.

 

I’m happy to say that we have been very blessed and our son Michael, now 12 years old is alive, well, and breaking little girls hearts.

 

And out of this, my most valuable lesson,…..you guessed it.

 

STOP, LOOK, AND LISTEN.

 

You can either wait for life to simplify things for you, or you can choose to do some work on your own….starting TODAY

 

 

So what parts of your life could use some simplification?

 

 

 

STOP, LOOK, AND LISTEN to your PRIORITES

 

            Are you spending time moving your stuff around?

o   closets

o   Basements

o   Attics

o   Storage sheds

o   Is it time to go ahead and eat on the good china?

-------------------

 

How are you spending your time?

o   It’s hard to say no to good stuff

o   Make the most important thing, the most important thing

 

STOP, LOOK, AND LISTEN. To your BODY

What is it trying to tell you

o   turn off the computer and go to sleep now

o   Maybe you could go for a walk during lunch

o   Perhaps 5 cups of coffee are enough……..for now.

 

STOP, LOOK, AND LISTEN. To your SPIRIT

·        Are you spending enough time each day:

o   Being still

o   Being quiet

o   Being disconnected

·        Pray, meditate, reflect. it really doesn’t matter what you call it, make time for it

o   Listen for God’s will in your life

 

STOP, LOOK, AND LISTEN in your RELATIONSHIPS

·        Spouse

·        Family

·        Friends

 

STOP, LOOK, AND LISTEN in your DECISION MAKING

 

My wife and I were first led here, to the Katuah plateau in Spring of 2012.

I wanted to visit this little green cabin in the woods I had seen on the internet. But the well intending real estate agent couldn’t understand why we didn’t want to move into a new house, in a neighborhood. Heck this house didn’t even have a dishwasher.

 

That’s when I asked him to STOP, LOOK, AND LISTEN

 

I have two dishwashers. One is named Michael and the other is Steven.

 

He relented and took us to the little green cabin in the woods. It was pouring rain, and he was having trouble figuring out which key would open the front door.

 

My wife and I went around back to the covered porch.

 

As the rain tapped on the corrugated roof we:

 

We STOPPED, LOOKED, AND LISTENED.

 

------------

 

It felt right.  It had no basement, no attic, and no extra closets.

 

We would be starting a new, simpler life where we use it or lose it.

 

It was time to eat on the good china.

 

--------

 

So now that we don’t spend our time moving stuff around, we once again had the opportunity to start filling our life up again.  But first,

 

WE STOPPED, LOOKED, AND LISTENED.

 

We found a place of worship where we could grow in our faith.

 

I found a Shakespeare troupe where I work with other artists to bring the classics to the community

 

My wife found a Food and Hygiene Pantry mission where she could express her passion for giving folks a hand up, and not just a hand out.

 

My son’s found a main street where their parents felt comfortable letting them break off and explore on their own on a Friday night.

 

As long as when they get to the cross walks they promise to:

 

STOP, LOOK, AND LISTEN

 



Sometimes my son Michael will come into my home office, now healthy, strong, and taller than his mother, and hover over my desk until I stop typing.

 

 Just when I think that he’s going to ask for the world with a bow on it, I hear

 

"Hi Dad, how was your day. Want to throw the football."

 

And I have to STOP, LOOK, AND LISTEN.

 

I hope none of you have to wait for life to force you to

 

STOP, LOOK, AND LISTEN

 

 

STOP – make time every day to be still

 

LOOK- look around, identify what’s really important in your life

 

 LISTEN – listen to your loved ones, your body, your inner voice, your higher power.

 

Practice these things and your life will not only be simpler, but richer and more satisfying as well.

 

 

-----------------------------------

Son, I’ve lived here my whole life and I ain’t never been over that bridge.

 

------------------------------------

 

Well, now that I’VE been over THAT bridge,….and BACK,…..I think I’ll stay over here for a little while……..enjoy some:

 

BAIT, ICE…and BEER…….

 

------------------------------------

 

-        b2