Banana Spreads Seeds of Humanity

Glancing at the side driver’s rearview mirror, I noticed a yellow banana sitting on the mirror of the pickup truck behind me. The light ahead remained red and I found myself watching the image.

Bananas may grow on trees, but the gesture behind the banana reminded me of the hidden acts of kindness in the world.

Looking at my center rearview mirror the lights on the white pickup truck behind me flashed on and off – repeating the pattern twice. Knowing I was sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic, I didn’t know what the driver was trying to communicate.

Then the banana’s purpose came into focus.

A man, walking against traffic, passed my driver’s side window. Stopping at the truck behind me, he gratefully accepted the banana from the man in the truck and a few dollars passed. They briefly spoke and shared a smile.

It is moments like this that remind me the world is going to be okay, that good is waiting to get out and make a difference.

This can be a rather self-centered world. Social media feeds our thirst to put ourselves in the center of the universe, society fawns over celebrities who are famous for simply being famous, and we dismiss tragedies with the casual thumb stroke on the newsfeed of our cell phone screens.

Fortunately, there are still people who look outward, stubbornly focusing on others in the world around them. It may seem old-fashioned to some, but our instinctive kindness to others is what the world needs most now.

For days now I have not been able to shake the image of the yellow banana in the rearview mirror and the hand reaching from out of view to accepted it. Behind the exchange was a beautiful under-the-radar moment of humanity. I feel as if God wanted me to see this as a reminder that I, too, can make a positive difference in the world around me with most humble of actions.

You do not have to be a billionaire to change the world. Most of us have been blessed with more material items than we can ever use of need. If you don’t believe this open a random closet in your home. For most, we’ll find shirts we’ve not worn in a year, shoes that have not left the house in months, and a scarf we are saving for the one day a cold front that never arrives. But for the most part, the items sit under our roof taking up space and not doing anyone any good.

I read of how in cities people will take old winter coats and tie the arms together around a utility pole for someone in need to take. The gesture is painless and heartfelt. A cold night can mean life or death to someone living on the streets.

The light changed, the banana is gone, and I pulled forward. The fruit, however, planted a seed to never forget to make a difference in the world.




Everyone Creates A Body Of Work

We tend to refer to the collective paintings by an artist or writings by an author as a body of work. And in doing so, we form opinions or project a value to their efforts. This exercise allows us to believe our conclusions are based on true substance.

While this practice is common, we should also have the courage to look in the mirror. Every day of our life, every decision or opportunity, every action or non-action, is a contribution to our personal body of work. We control the paintbrush, the keyboard, and the outcome.

I value this concept more with each passing year. The lesson was underappreciated in my youth. I knew my actions were important, but I did not fully understand the world was keeping score.

Our society is an odd one. Material objects rule short-term. Attractions tend to be glamorized, and the carcass of bad decisions are left behind. Under the darkness of the past, we simply smile and move on.

But like any artist, our body of work is always there, available for the same scrutiny a film critic projects onto the film director. We are always on display. And our decisions will define us in the end.

One of the most unusual benefits of walking around with the head of grey hair is you increasingly see the world from a different vantage point. In this newfound scope, your life – or body of work – finds itself under a more introspective lens. Suddenly you realize you have nowhere to hide – nor did you ever. You recognize were only kidding yourself to believe otherwise.

When we get to the latter stages of life we begin creating our Greatest Hits album, one that we believe what represents us most accurately to the world. An award by a local organization, a school record established back in high school or the story of when we played in a cover band one summer. But in reality, these are not the pieces the most important people in our life will remember us for. No, the best tracks are hidden between the hits of life, the ones we believe no one noticed along the way.

The real body of work is the one resulting from who you are a person. Your relationship with your spouse, your children, those whose lives you directly touch.

The world is full of materially successful people living alone in giant houses. Or maybe surrounded by people nodding yes to his or her every word, but they’ve not shared a conversation with their adult son or daughter in more than three years. A family reunion to them is measured more by a headcount than an experience or making of a memory.

If one day someone looks over my body of work, I hope they see a good friend others could count on, a man crazy in love with his wife, and a father who loved his family with all his heart. To me, that is a body of work worth being proud.




Gearheads Deserve Love, Too

I’m reading an article about a new sports sedan coming to the market. Low-slung lines, throaty exhausts, lines that appear to be in motion while the car is in park. As happens with many males, involuntary sounds erupt from deepest spaces inside, eventually finding a way onto an open room. If you are one of us, you have no control over this reaction.

“Whoah. Top speed 165,” I said.

Without delay my wife replies.

“Wow, like everyone needs to go 165-miles an hour,” she said back. Her deadpan sarcasm, insulating from me from reality for the briefest of moments, led me to believe she was serious. Then I thawed.

And so goes the life of a gearhead.

My wife, for the record, does not share the gearhead gene.

Being a gearhead is an odd and distracting affliction. I’ve always loved automobiles. I can find something about every generation of cars and trucks to love. Tail fins still excite me. As of late, I’ve begun to secretly harbor a day when vinyl tops might make a retro-inspired comeback. And don’t get me started on T-Tops – leaks and all.

Fist thing people should know is gearheads see the world differently. Cars and trucks not merely items designed to transport us from point to point. No, we view the best ones as works of art standing on a canvas of asphalt. They are remarkable examples of human engineering. To us, they represent how human emotions and raw materials can bend and blend into something both evocatively beautiful and powerful.

You may know us by our odd public behavior. We are the ones who when pulling up to a traffic light, turn off the radio and lower the window to allow the sounds of a nearby V-8 motor next fill the cabin. And we are the ones when walking across the parking lot will wander down a lane because we spotted a tail light to an old car we might not have seen in years. This is a sad affliction without any known cure.

Fortunately, my family is understanding and supportive. This week our daughter, who lives in Georgia, began texting me photos from an outdoor car show she somehow ended up at. To her, a car is a point A to point B proposition. Does it start? Does it play music? Does it get me where I’m going? Her list is short. But for me, she knows few things make me smile more than a trip down memory lane with cars and trucks. I take this as a sign of love on her part.

My first car was a hand-me-down sedan with a 455-cubic inch motor. I promise you those afflicted with gearhead syndrome are already thinking what they’d like do with that motor. Others see the numbers as meaningless reference points.

My eyes return to the article of the new sedan, my ego smarting a bit. But in the end, I know my wife loves me like a set of tail fins on a 1959 Cadillac.