Sometimes you come upon fresh ideas in the most unusual places.
Our family - all 16 of us - enjoyed fall break in Destin, Fla., a couple of weeks back. We stayed in a three-story beach house – the same house we stayed in the year before. Sixteen human beings in the same house for a week can present all kinds of challenges.
I recall a little girl’s letter in a book titled Letters to God. She wrote:
“I know you love all people, everywhere, all the time. There are only four in my family, and sometimes, I just can’t do it.”
Well, we had a splendid time except for an occasional cry from one of the little folks, (I explained to them one cannot cry on vacation which dried up tears rather quickly.) Things could not have gone any better.
I was pleased to be re-introduced to a decorative wall treatment in the bedroom my wife, Kathy, and I occupied. It bore the thoughts of the late NCAA men’s basketball coach Jim Valvano. He coached North Carolina State University to a national championship in 1983. His reaction to the last-minute heroics in that national championship game, as he frantically searched for someone to hug, is the stuff of legends.
But Valvano became most famous for his valiant fight against cancer (adenocarcinoma) which resulted in his death in 1993 at age 47. Known by his peers as “Jimmy V,” he was founder of the V Foundation, which since its inception has raised millions and millions of dollars for cancer research.
In his acceptance speech for the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award two months before his death, Valvano described what he considered to be a “full day,” – a day in which you do three things: laugh, think, and cry.
Laugh. Yet frankly, I think, we as modern Americans, laugh far too infrequently. Not only do we take ourselves too seriously, but we also tend to take everything too seriously. Life can be a grind, and it can grind you into powder. A healthy sense of humor can go a long way in taking some of the grind out of the grind. We could all lighten up a bit. And opportunities to laugh surround us all the time.
One night, during our fall vacation, I suggested our boys and their wives have a night away from the kids. Unfortunately, I failed to mention my plan to my wife so she went with them. That left me at the vacation house with seven of our grandchildren. I have found when things get really quiet - too quiet - something is usually going on. Time to investigate.
I found the three boys, ages 7, 7 and 6, sitting on a bunkbed, their backs against the wall, like birds on a wire; their full attention on an iPad held by the middle bird.
“Are you boys watching something that’s good for you?” I asked.
“Yes, sir!” came their answer in unison.
As I turned to leave the room, satisfied I had monitored the situation properly, one boy piped up, “Can we watch one thing that is inappropriate?”
“Absolutely not!” I fired in as serious a voice as I could muster.
Now that was funny! (I waited until I was well out into the hall before I laughed.)
You’ve heard it said, “He who laughs last, laughs loudest.” Sales motivator Zig Ziglar, used to say, “He who laughs, lasts!” It is important to laugh every time you have the opportunity.
Think. Ralph Waldo Emerson said the hardest work in all the world is thinking. It is hard not to follow the herd. We are inundated with so much information and misinformation today which, as C.S. Lewis observed, “rushes at us like a bunch of wild animals.” Living well calls for clear thinking.
Cry. There is so much sadness in the world. It is important to allow life to “touch” you. Indeed, we are all in this thing together. It is easy to play it safe and insulate us from the pain of life. And you can do that, but as Lewis said, when we do, “we pass into a seasonless world where we laugh, but not with all our laughter, and cry, but not with all our tears.”
I think Jim Valvano was right. On a day you laugh, think, and cry - now, that’s a “full day.”
Jack McCall is a motivational humorist, Southern storyteller and author. A native Middle Tennessean, he is recognized on the national stage as a “Certified Speaking Professional.” He can be reached at email@example.com Copyright 2022 by Jack McCall.