Living Like A Yeti In A Modern World

“Hello, this is Leonard,” I said into the telephone.

“Ugh, (pause) I wasn’t actually expecting a live person to pick up,” said the voice on the other end.

After regrouping, the caller began her unexpected conversation with me. Needing help, she’d dialed my number planning on leaving a preplanned voicemail. You know the drill: name, reason for the call, and a return number. And for extra credit remember to repeat your name and phone number.

A few moments later, finishing up our conversation, I thanked her for call as well as for taking the time to speak with a live person.

“Be sure to tell all your friends,” I said.

“You know,” she said, “calling these days and actually getting a live person is kind of like finding a Yeti.”

Hanging up the phone the truth of her words began settling in. In today’s world, how many times do we really expect to get a warm, welcoming voice on the other end? So ingrained is this expectation, most of us mentally prepare out message in short sound bites. Ironically, calling and unexpectedly getting a live voice on the other end takes us off script and leaves us feeling a bit, well, uncomfortable.

For a modern world harkening to be the champion of social communication, we are sure getting rather impersonal.

People expect to use voicemail as a tool to better manage their time. And in today’s ‘social’ world, however, if someone breaks from the expected script, most of us get confused or even borderline annoyed. Basically, our voicemail is all about efficiency and not a time or place to make a warm or friendly exchange of information.

Yes, when you think about it that is a rather sad statement about our newfound ‘social’ culture. Proudly declaring we’ve over 500 ‘friends’ on a social platform or thousands of ‘followers’, a strong case could be made supporting our increasingly self-imposed personal isolation in the world.

Supposedly technology is working to make our lives easier – freeing us up to spend more time with those we love and enjoy our lives as we wish. Dare I ask “how’s that working out for you?”

My accidental telephone conversation was really enjoyable. Both us, leaving the script, actually got to know each other beyond the numbers on the keypad of our telephones. Before long we were laughing and looking for a way to solve her request. To some degree, albeit limited, we became friends working together. And with any degree of familiarity naturally comes respect for the other person. All and all, a time well spent.

But one man can not fight this battle alone.

Once I remember my then-teenage daughter be put off at having to actually speak into her cellphone.

“Nobody talks on cell phones,” she said. “That’s why we have texting.”

Again, technology between two people.

So maybe I’m someone straddling two societies – one of advancement and higher calling and another of a more primitive nature. You know, when you look at it that way, I’m not too different from the Yeti after all.

– 30 –

Protecting Your Circle Critical In Life

It turns out a small circle is the most important shape in successful relationships.

The other day a speaker was talking about marriage and other long-term bonds.

“Reach out and grab the other’s hands so you’re facing each other,” he said. “Now look at that circle – the space between it — and be committed to protecting it with all you’ve got.”

At first I was a bit confused, not understanding how two people standing together and holding hands while facing each other could be so important.

“Remember this little circle is where everything began for the two of you,” he said. “If the circle is going to work, you can’t let anyone — or anything — come between you two.”

While this seems simple enough advice, the speaker continued.

“Not work, not family, not even your children,” he said.

Thinking about these words, the concept began to come into focus.

Marriages and other long-standing relationships are built on a foundation of trust, honestly, and respect. And for two people to become one, these are non-negotiable. A family, after all, is built upon the foundation of the two who originally came together. And without a solid foundation, how can the life built on top of it be expected to stand?

I pictured myself standing in the driveway holding the hands of my wife. We’re now decades into this run – and still feel as if this is some sort of surreal dream. But the reality is, the circle we created long ago remains the basis for all we have and who we are in life. Without the unquestionable love, trust, and commitment from the person we’re holding hands with, everything we’ve built from it would crumble before our eyes.

I suddenly realized the small circle, as the speaker said, truly is the center of everything in a relationship.

Love is a complicated thing. And in relationships, particularly marriages, love plays the bonding role of the mortar between the bricks the foundation of a life is built upon. But no matter how strong the bricks, a weak mortar will eventually allow the elements in – thus jeopardizing the integrity of everything built upon it.

And the same applies to those making the small circle. If behind these hands is a weakness in trust or respect, outside elements can seep in and erode the strength the two create. And the resulting love – the secret ingredient to surviving even the most difficult of times – can be irrevocably extinguished.

The other day my wife and I stood in the kitchen holding hands and facing each other. I now get it. The space between us is truly where life begins and ends for us. This small circle is the single most important footing post in everything we see, feel, or will ever touch in life. Our world – and everything important to us – is built squarely upon the strength of the relationship the two of us share.

And from this day forward I understand the secret to happy life is — and always will be — at the end of my fingertips.

– 30

Big Box of Sticks Holds Memories

Recently my wife and I sold a big box of sticks. Well, to be more accurate, we sold the house where we raised our family. And to those who know, the two could not be more different.

“It’s just a house,” we said to each other in hopes of softening the emotional loss. Sitting on the back porch, trees wrapping around us like giant green arms trying to comfort us, we shared a few tears.

But in a cold, stark reality, a house is nothing but a big box of sticks. Just ask my insurance agent. My homeowner’s insurance does not cover the loss of laughter over dinner in the kitchen or the mornings you wake up to a house of sleeping teenagers you’ve never met. No, on paper, a house is a big box of sticks with a mathematical figure attached.

But I guess that is what makes life so magical – our ability to turn an inanimate object into something much more meaningful.

This week my wife and I sat around laughing as we watched a mental highlight reel of our years inside the big box of sticks. The time our daughter swiped the side of the garage learning to drive or our son wrestled with a jackhammer digging out the front sidewalk. Or maybe it was how we’d regularly discover a half-dozen empty pizza boxes in the kitchen – along with a handful of cars parked along the curb – that did not exist when we turned in for the night.

Yeah, that box of sticks was wonderful.

We even remember sitting across the street with the neighbors on a hot summer afternoon picking out a new color to paint the house. Cold beers in our hands, we all debated the different shades of yellow my wife painted across a particular spot on the exterior to see how they’d look. What is amazing is how the time it took to select the right color coincided exactly to the number of beers we had on hand.

You see, the sum value of a box of sticks will always be much more than anything a calculator-tooting actuary can accurately estimate.

Even a box of sticks can take on its own personality. Sometimes it is as simple as recognizing the sound of beams popping in the attic as cold front races though or the cry of the screen door as someone goes out to the garage. Eventually the unique sounds all become family.

Emotions are one of the most beautiful things God grants us. With it we are able to carry with us feelings and connections long after the present becomes the past. And a return ticket is as easy as simply pausing and taking a moment to remember.

So our big box of sticks is gone – and now in the hands of wonderful young family. But the memories that magically turned a house into a home will forever warmly reside in our hearts.

– 30 –