Polishing Life Requires Discipline 

Standing outside the window of my truck, a man is holding a bowl of Halloween candy. A large motorcycle rally is in town, the island flooding with chrome and a constant deep rumble.

“Here, please take some,” he said.

He is friendly, but with a hint of desperation to be separated from the colorful bowl of treats. Unclaimed candies from Halloween, no matter how small the colorful packages appear to the eyes, turn radioactive to adults – the mere proximity a threat to contributing to expanding waistlines.

We strike up a conversation. He is working detailing motorcycles in the corner of a narrow parking lot along the water. His disposition is sunny, matching the sky above. Across the road, incoming waves twinkle as if a bag of children’s decorative glitter dances across the surface.

The day is much brighter than the night he came to town.

“I’d parked my truck for the night,” he said. “Then the storm came through, flipped it over. Totaled the 8 bikes I’d brought.”

His voice was even in tone, almost as if speaking about someone else’s experience. There was a disappointment in his voice – but a disappointment absent of anger.

He shrugged his shoulders, pushing the movement back into the past.

“Figured I was already down here. I might as well hang around and do something.”

We talked through the window about how he’d once owned a company selling detailing polish. He proudly held up a bottle for me to see.

But what struck me most was his total acceptance of his circumstances. What had happened had happened. Nothing on his part would have stopped the high-winds from coming to town. Maybe, he admitted, he could’ve moved the bikes out of the trailer, but he didn’t. His bad, so the saying goes.

Two Kit Kat bars moved from his bowl and into my truck.

But he’d given me much more than two pieces of candy. What he’d really shared me was a reminder of how to deal with situations we cannot expect to control in life. Here was a man, polishing rag in hand and 8 motorcycles mangled and twisted in a trailer, with a smile on his face. What was done was done. What he controlled, he demonstrated, was the now.

To him, and the success he’d found in life – the one led by a positive attitude – saturated his being like an inland marsh during high tide.

Everyone gets upset or mad from time to time. But what separates people seems to be their ability to successfully control the moment, somehow putting the proverbial genie back into a bottle without creating lasting damage. Careless words used in anger or emotional decisions made without thought can linger uncomfortably afterward – serving as stubborn reminders long after the original moment has passed.

Candy in the truck, we laughed, wishing each other a good day. But pulling out into traffic it occurred to me that for him, that was already a given.

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