On Saying Goodbye and Starting All Over Again

When you were growing up, the good stuff (the really good stuff) was learned from your grandparents—not your mom and dad—but from their folks. Louie, my dad’s dad, was born in a sod hut in Russia. He didn’t say much—I studied his actions more than his words—but when he spoke, his words were worth remembering. First, he would mumble something in Russian, then, he’d translate that into English. One of his favorite lines: ‘Leap and the net will appear…’ He himself had reservations about what he could and could not do and, I guess in a way, he didn’t want us to be that timid about life. ‘…Don’t be afraid, Mikey, you always land on your feet anyways.’ So, leap and the net will appear became my mantra and I can honestly say that I have found myself in some pretty interesting situations over a lifetime because of those words. And each time I took that leap of faith, what I found time and time again was more beautiful and more interesting than I could have ever imagined; having said that, I now find myself at a cross-road in my life. And any decision made is going to be bittersweet.

After being self-employed for over 40 years, it’s time to pack up and move on. The warmer climes of the great southwest have beckoned us. But, before we get a chance to start all over again, we must say our good-byes to a lifetime of friends—good, solid, compassionate and caring people. You know, there are some people who touch your heart and there are others that wrap their arms around your soul. Fortunately for me, I have always attracted or been attracted to people of this ilk. It has been said that the sense of touch is the most unappreciated of the five senses. If that’s true, then, I have indeed been blessed with the people that I have known. I have grown immeasurably from their tutelage and their friendship. From a writer’s point of view, if I wrote daily for the next 100 years, I don’t think I’d make a dent in all the stories that I have been able to witness and experience.

So, long after all of the good-byes, after all the tears and all the laughter, we can start on our new beginning. What will I do until my writing catches on? I have no idea! But, in the back of my mind, I can hear Grandpa Louie telling me to ‘leap and the net will appear. Don’t be afraid, Mikey, you always land on your feet anyways.’ Right now, I’m working off of a blank piece of paper, but I know that whatever happens will be more interesting and more beautiful than anything either of us could have ever imagined. This I know. Why? Because it’s always worked before, why should this time be any different?

At least, that’s the way I see it. Be well. TO NEW BEGINNINGS!! CHEERS!! MLProko ©2010   www.mikeproko.com

Published in: on July 26, 2010 at 3:42 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Art of Conversation

What happened? Where did it all go? Remember, probably not that long ago, when you’d call someone or get a call from someone and you’d meet for a cup of coffee? Or a sandwich? Or a drink? Chances are that you’d get together just to talk, to find out what was on the others’ mind, as a friend or as a sounding board. Not too long ago, before e-mail, before tweeting or texting [yah, like those two are words!], we were able to engage in the art of conservation, where you’d listen to the others’ tone or inflection and know that whatever they were talking about was not what was on their mind. Pretty soon, he/she would open up and get right down to the nitty-gritty. That’s what friends did for friends—somebody talked and somebody listened.

Where are we now? Hey, fax that resume over to me and I’ll consider it. (Like that ever happens?) Or I sent u a txt lst nit. Dd you get it? Y dint u txt m bck? For crying out loud, who is this person and what school taught them how to butcher our language. Or the woman who posts on Facebook that she’s buying socks. Do we really have to know that?

Or care? Does this make me a dinosaur? Ah, big deal. I’ve been called worse.

Every time there is a gain in technology, something has to be sacrificed. It’s too bad that the sacrifice has to be the intellect of our children. What we are raising now is a generation of boys and girls that are lacking in any and all communication skills; not only are their oral skills lacking, most cannot compose a letter or write an intelligible story. Not that it’s completely their fault, either. They’re kids. How many parents opt for the DVD option in the mini-van so the kids can be occupied while you’re either on the cell-phone or texting (aarrgghh!) or both. You’re going to blink your eyes and those toddlers are going to be leaving for college.

Coupled with the art of conversation should be the art of listening. It’s sad that most people don’t bother to listen anymore. Too many people are too concerned about what they have to say that they’re not interested in what you have to say. And when they do talk, it’s always ‘at’ you instead of ‘to’ you. How many times in the course of the day do you have to listen to people do just that? That’s very sad.

We are now in danger of becoming a world full of cyber-connected hermits and that, too, is very sad. Your life will not end if the cell-phone is turned off for the weekend, the world will not stop spinning if you don’t answer that text message and you won’t be damned for eternity if you carry on a conversation with your kids in the car. All of us are sacrificing way too much for all of this technology. We can use it to our advantage on an ‘as need’ basis, but not to the point that it runs our lives.

And if you happen to be carrying on a conversation with the kids in the car and one of them kicks the back of the seat, let ‘em. You did and you didn’t turn out so bad, for the most part.

At least, that’s the way I see it. Take it slow. MLProko ©2010    www.mikeproko.com

Published in: on July 18, 2010 at 6:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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When to push, when to pull

You’ve charted your course. You are sure that this is what you were meant to do. All the signs point in that direction. You’ve followed your instincts. Up until now, the ideas have come to you with little or no effort. And then, you’re dead in the water. What happened, you ask yourself? I was doing so well! Well, actually, nothing happened. We will all get to this point eventually. You can continue to move forward, to push, or you can back it up a little. Knowing when to push forward or when to pull back has been the difference between success and failure since time began. Make the right decision and you’re in the clover. Make the wrong decision and your dream might just die on the vine. Nevertheless, you must make a decision. Luckily, for us, none of these decisions are etched in stone, to wit, we can always start over again.

If you decide to push forward, several things might happen: first, maybe the lull that you ran into was just that—a momentary lapse of judgment. Figure out where the mistake was made and repair it. Maybe you’ve hit a roadblock because your ‘idea machine’ needs a well-placed whack. Or you may find out that the people or the characters that you picked for the project don’t gel all that well. This might be a good time to pull back on the oars and stop moving forward. We, as Americans, seem to think that if you’re not moving forward then you’re losing ground. Sometimes, it just makes more sense to put your feet up and just think.

There is a time to pull back in everyone’s life. It has been said that what makes a good General is to know when to retreat and how far. Sometimes, a step back from a project will provide a new perspective, to see the forest from the trees, so to speak. If you sit in one spot and breathe in the same air over and over again, eventually your brain is going to get a little foggy. Stand back and take a good look with new eyes and with more imagination. You’ve done very well up to this point—you’ve had the strength and the insight to come this far—sometimes a step back will actually propel you forward, but with an increase in insight.

Lastly, sometimes we get a chance to start over. Every writer, artist, composer or inventor has scraped up bits of what didn’t work and added them to a new project and made his way to the ‘Promised Land’; Einstein, Edison, Mozart and the Wright Bros., to name a few, all used this principle to their advantage. It’s never a crime to start over. The sin is in not trying to start over again. But, that’s not you, is it? That’s not in your make-up. You’re better than that, right? GOOD!

Then make it happen. Make that dream come true. Then, we can share stories and drinks in the Promised Land. Hey, that’s the way I see it. Take care.

MLProko ©2010   www.mikeproko.com

Published in: on July 10, 2010 at 6:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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