Authors, Entrepreneurs, and other Creative Individuals Pursuing Their Dreams
One question I frequently ask myself is, “Bill, do you ever shut your damned mouth?”
Perhaps I do it from seeing the cartoon balloons above people’s heads when they look at me after I’ve said something particularly non-brilliant. That’s happened many times in my life, although it’s less frequent in recent years. These days, when that happens to me, it’s most likely when I try to do something nice for someone. That appears to be an improved way of doing things, at least.
There’s an old guy … seriously old … who lives in this retirement community a block or two away on the main street heading toward my condo. However, he’s meddlesome as a man can be. Too much so. His name, in this country, is Harley Phillips. He also has a website, www.africanangelsfoundation.org, where he says they made him an honorary chief of some tribe in Africa. There’s even a movie at his site showing it. Best guess, it took place 20-30 years ago. He says, more and more often these days, he’s going back to Africa. Says they are the only ones who appreciate him.
Every few days I see him, usually when I return from running errands. He always takes objection to the fact I drive a breakneck speeds on Vista Campaña South, sometimes as fast as 35 mph! When I go by he stares at me, grimaces, even wags a finger at me so I’m remonstrated for my horrific misdeeds. I also used to see him at the clubhouse when I was still volunteering as a monitor in the computer center Monday afternoons. For some reason he never chewed me out there.
The other day I was waiting for a red light. An older station wagon was waiting next to me. I noticed the exhaust, white clouds spewing from the tailpipe. I had a flashback to when my ’77 Olds blew a head gasket, a very expensive procedure. Looking at the driver, I saw an old guy. The light stays red a long time, about a week, as I recall. So, neighborly fellow I can be, I put it in park, got out and tapped his window. When I told him he needed to see a mechanic, he blew it off and launched into the “going back to Africa” speech.
I got back in my car, started looking at the light again, and nodded politely a few times until I was able to take off. Until he began spouting the speech, I didn’t even notice he was the old whacko who proves so meddlesome. Had I still been my old semi-paranoiac self, I’d've seen right away who it was and left him to deal with the problem.
All I can think is I have a small debt of gratitude for the 4⅓ years I spent living homeless, where I learned the most important thing in life is remembering it isn’t always “about me”. If I can endure some discomfort to assure my fellow man from suffering a tragedy, that’s a better way to go. Even if he’s somewhat delusional and would rather talk about an imagined trip back to Africa, at least I tried. It’s more than the old me would’ve done. That makes it hard to determine which of us is the mean old man, me or “Captain Meddlesome”.
Do you have the amount of compassion needed to deal with others and their needs, or do you need a few years living homeless to learn how?
I’m just sayin’.
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