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Friday, January 15, 2016

How, How Much



Growing up in rural Wisconsin as a kid, we had an old green, beat up Plymouth station wagon. Kinda, sorta beat up. The harsh Wisconsin winters were not a friend to it, leaving the poor old car with rust spots here and there, especially around the wheel wells and doors.

We didn’t have cellphones or portable video devices. Back then hardly anyone listened to FM, so our only option would be to listen to an AM channel with static and white noise. As we traveled, the signal would fade in and out and force us to find a new station to listen to. Together with mom and dad and at least six or seven of us in the car at any one time, finding something we could all agree on was difficult.

At some point in time, our radio died. Just went. Gone. Old, I guess, just like the rusting green car that was its, and our, carriage for so many years.

The loss of the radio forced us to have conversation. But mostly, what I remember is that we’d sing. Three and four part harmony. The young ones sang the high and very high notes, while the older ones and mom and dad sang the lower notes. Because we didn’t have sheet music to lean on, and because none us could read music anyway until later in life, all the songs were by rote and all the harmony was by ear. And Lord help us if we hit a wrong note! You had better get it right the first time or you heard about it or were on the receiving end of a sharp elbow!

I can’t tell you how many trips we took but there were a lot of them. And because of those trips, there were a lot of songs. As I write this, there are several that come to mind and I even remember my part. Can’t hit some of those high notes any longer. No way!

Great memories and great times! I think it made our family tighter and closer.

We’ve lost that as time went on. Not only my family, but all of us.

Cell phones and earbuds. IPads and tablets. Cars with Wi-Fi. Are there any cars out there without AM and FM and satellite radios and CD players? Are there any worth buying?

I think our society has placed a growing emphasis on How Much.

Bigger is better, unless you’re talking about your stomach or your hips or your butt. Bigger houses and bigger cars. Bigger shoe collections and bigger closets to fit a bigger wardrobe. Bigger TVs and bigger stereo systems. It seems that we measure success by How Much one has.

Rather than How.

I think How is a better question to ask. I think How is a better measuring stick for one’s life.

How did you treat your children today? How did you treat your husband, your wife, your mother, your father? How did you treat the kids we teach or the people we work with? How many kind, considerate, and compassionate words did you give away? How many times did you embrace someone, smile at someone? How many times did you take the time to stop and listen to someone in need, someone who needed help? How many times did you reach out to lift someone up?

When it’s all said and done, at the end of time, I think we’ll be measured by the How in our lives rather than How Much. I think the better, more worthwhile measuring stick for all of us is How rather than How Much. Better for all of us, for each of us. Better for the world. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

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