Five Minute Friendships

We were in Halfwaytonowhere, Idaho a couple of weekends ago for my Cousins memorial service, staying at a nearby resort (the only lodging for miles around). We were having dinner at the restaurant, sitting out on their deck, when a couple of built-up hotrods pulled up. Turns out that there was going to be a small hot rod gathering that evening, so we settled in and waited for all of them to arrive. 

There were some really nice restorations, a couple of unusual vehicles, and some really built-for-racing rigs. We wandered around gawking and admiring, and struck up a couple of conversations. Rod had seen an article about a 1954 GM concept car, and vowed to have one some day. He spent years looking, and finally had one custom made for him – the 1954 Corvette with the Chevy Nomad roof. He is a retired firefighter from California, who travels back and forth between there and Idaho – no more shoveling snow for him! Super-nice guy, very friendly and outgoing. 

Then we met Mark and Katherine – turns out she graduated from Ferndale High School, same school as my daughter! They met in college many years ago, moved to New York, then back out west. If I remember right, his uncle had a home on a nearby lake, where he had spent a lot of time with family as a youth. They were able to purchase that home, and lived there for several years before a neighbor convinced them to sell. They then moved into the resort community we were at, loved it, but are looking for a new place.

So, what’s the point? Both of these are examples of what we call “Five Minute Friendships”. It’s all about being open, and reaching out to people, and connecting with them. Generally we never see these people again, but in the meantime, we’ve taken the time to put our phones down, look people in the eye, and share a bit of ourselves with them, and listen to them share a bit about themselves. In this fast-moving, increasingly impersonal world, we consciously take the time to try and connect with others. 

My wife is currently reading a book called “Life After Heaven” by Steven Musick. She has shared the basic storyline with me, and I’m excited to read it as well. The backstory is amazing and really powerful, then gets into a concept the author calls “Bubbles from Heaven.” Basically it takes the Five Minute Friendship to the next level, when you open your eyes to see a need, then open your heart to meet that need. My friend Don did that a while. Here’s what happened in his words: “I  was at Costco just before Christmas. A woman with three young children had a sizable amount of groceries on the belt. The cashier found that her  husband’s Costco card hadn’t been renewed for a long time. They tried everything to get it to work, but they told her they were sorry and started removing her stuff. When she was taking her toddler out of the cart, I felt a spiritual slap across my head as if I was asleep. I told them to put everything through and I paid for it. She was tearfully embarrassed and thankful. I said “God bless you and Merry Christmas.” In retrospect, I think it had more effect on the cashier and boxer……. and my wallet ;). Look at how many were blessed by this bubble from heaven!

And I guess that’s a part of why I write this blog – I want to make more connections with more people. I want to do my part to experience bubbles from heaven. I love technology, but I love people more. I’m looking forward to many more Five Minute Friendships – or a GREAT friendship – with you!

Life in the Slow Lane

Life in the Slow Lane

Many people agree that my middle name should be ‘Trouble,” although it was often “Mud” when I was growing up, but I’m thinking it should have been “Faster.” I always tried to walk faster to school, and even faster on my way home (it was only uphill one way, and most often in the rain, not snow). I always wanted to be the fastest reader in class, but Candy always was able to beat me. When I finally got a bike, I needed to be faster than all my friends, especially racing down Rocky  Butte in Portland. Once I started driving, I went through cars the way most people go through a box of Kleenex. Then I got a job working for Western Electric in Vancouver, and getting to work was always a race against the clock. I swear to this day that eventually other commuters recognized my big old Chrysler, and pulled into the slow lane when they saw me coming. I actually used to track my time hiking trails in the North Cascades, and tried to beat my previous time the next time I was on the same trail. And I never thought I talked too fast, but that other people listened too slow.

I’m not sure when the change actually took place, but I recently realized things have changed. Sure, I’m still over the speed limit a bit on the freeway, but I pull into the slow lane when I see someone behind me who wants to set a new land speed record coming up behind. And I rarely even use bad words as they barrel past. I find myself timing trips into the megalopolis to avoid traffic stress, and even intentionally take back roads that will take longer so I don’t have to deal with the speeders and crazies on the freeway. I slow my steps when I’m walking to take in more of my surroundings. I stop for a photo op of some leaves dappled by sun and shade beside a trail. I definitely get passed on the trail more than I pass people these days.

I’m consciously slowing down to take the time to check in with my friends and family, and trying to talk less and listen more. I stand in a much longer line at the grocery store (*cough* Kroeger/Fred Meyer) to be helped by a real person, rather than trying to speed through a self-checkout line. I shelved my dreams for a fast sports car, and am more than content with my little four cylinder basic small Toyota SUV. We took the time to engage tablemates at a Yelp dinner event in good conversation, and came away enriched by the experience. 

Nearing age 70, maybe it’s that I’m almost able to see the final grains of sand running out in the hourglass of my life that makes me want to savor each and every one as they pass by. After rushing through my life, I look back and sense how much I missed with my focus on speed. Speed is always about Self, almost always at the expense of relationships. Now that I’ve identified the Speed Demon, I can call him out, put him behind me, and focus on living life to the full. (Warning – cliche’ ahead) “Better late than never” to learn to savor each precious passing moment. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch some sloth videos for inspiration.

Yesterday vs. Yesteryear

We went and saw Yesterday with some friends yesterday. Short take, no spoilers, a failed musician gets hit by a bus. The lights go out all over the world, and when they come back on, everything looks the same, but some things no longer exist, and never did – in this case, the Beatles, and all their music. But he remembers virtually all their songs, starts playing them, and everyone thinks they’re his, and the world goes nuts over the music. Interesting premise, and – like most of you – I grew up listening to the Beatles, so I was curious about this movie.

I  had just turned 13 years old when their first hit “Love Me Do” hit the airwaves here late 1963. I was an instant fan. As I grew and matured, so did they and their music. They broke new ground with every album they released; it was hard to say how much they changed the world, and how much they mirrored the incredible changes that were sweeping the world. Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds was released in May of 1967, just as I graduated from high school, with its implicit endorsement of LSD and psychedelia.

So, I was intrigued by the move Yesterday. First, let me say I really enjoyed it on several levels, and recommend it. But what surprised me was the impact the music had on me, even being presented in the extraordinary circumstances of the plot. Several times I found myself on the verge of tears, which blew my mind. I just rode it, but knew I’d have to go back and analyze what the heck was going on as no one else was obviously impacted the way I was.

One thing about me is that always looking for what’s new, and figuring out what that might look like in my life. From bringing home a Commodore 64 (the first affordable home computer) to the first iPhone; from going from vinyl to 8 track to cassette tapes to CD’s to streaming; from Flat-top haircuts to very long hippy hair and back to shorter hair and almost back to Flat-tops, and so on, I’m always on the lookout for the new. Especially in music. While many of my friends and peers music choices today reflect the music they grew up listening to, I’ve adopted more varied new music styles than I can keep up with. For example, right now I’m streaming The Growlers station on Pandora; their music is labeled “Beach Goth”. Sure, I’ll put on BTO or Psychedelic music if I want high energy to clean the house, but that’s about it. 

I guess in many ways I’ve run from my past. It wasn’t horrible like so many have experienced, but it wasn’t very good either, and I’ve been more than happy to shove it back into the spare room closet, rarely seeing the light of day. So when all of this seminal music from my past started playing, one song right after another, it was like I was a disembodied spirit flying over and then becoming emotionally entangled with the feelings from my past. And it kind of feels sickenly indulgent to weep about that sad, lonely kid from over 50 years ago. I can’t go back and change who I was, and frankly, I wouldn’t if I could, because every event in my life then led me to my life right now. Things will never be perfect in this world, but I’ve never been happier than I am now. 

Yesterday was great, but I’m going to let it move into the spare room closet with yesteryear. It was an interesting little side-trip, and I got to learn a bit more about myself. And if you have some tips about some cool new music you are listening to, please let me know!