“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.”
― John Lennon
“The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up.”
― Mark Twain
I’m listening to the radio on my drive home tonight and a prerecorded host message comes on between songs. “Here at Radio 94.7, we think Sacramento is pretty awesome. But what if every person in Sacramento did just one random act of kindness per month? How awesome Sacramento would be then? If everyone did that, Sacramento would be, like, the most awesome city in the whole country!” (Or something to that effect.)
And I was like . . .
Well, okay. First things first: Random acts of kindness equal good, so — yes, intentions are good — and effort does count, so — “Yay, 94.7.”
But then I was like . . .
“Per month?!” Whoa, people. Let’s not aim too high here . . . Continue reading
Huck and Jim on the raft
I’m listening to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn on audiotape while helping a friend clean her house. It’s the part toward the end where Huck is deciding what to do about Jim, Miss Watson’s runaway slave. Huck and Jim have been rafting down the Mississippi for weeks now — Huck trying to escape his drunken Pa; Jim trying to find freedom — only they keep running into trouble. This time, a couple of vagrants have kidnapped Jim and sold him to Mr. Phelps, a local farmer, and now, Huck is confused: Should he do what’s “right” (and what he “shoulda done all along”) and tell Miss Watson where Jim is and thus betray his friend? Or, should he listen to his heart . . . ? Continue reading
My sophomore year of high school, about six months before I got my driver’s license. My then boyfriend (a wise-beyond-his-years 17-year-old) was driving my little brother and I home from school. School let out early on Fridays. It was a beautiful day—a perfect day for ice cream.
“Mmm, that looks good. What kind is that?”
“Gold medal ribbon—duhhh!” grinned 13-year-old Derek. Chocolate ice cream was dripping from his cone all over his hand.
“I should have guessed,” I laughed.
“What kind did you get?” my boyfriend asked, grabbing a chair in the sun. He had a strawberry cone.
“Peach.” I winked.
Image: Jason Hunt (Pinterest)
Suddenly, we were distracted. A large group of motorcyclists had just roared into the parking lot. They were dismounting their bikes and walking heavily—clunk, clunk, clunk—towards our pleasant spot in the sun. Apparently they thought it was a good day for ice cream, too.
As they approached, I saw black leather and shiny boots. Their bronzed skin boasted jagged skulls and barbed wire and other fading tattoos. Their vests said “Hell’s Angels.” They smelled funny.
I wrinkled my nose.
“Don’t be rude, Jess!” hissed my boyfriend after the men had tromped into the store.
“I’m not!” I protested, but he cut me off. Continue reading
“Heyyyy! I thought that was you!”
I didn’t recognize the man who had appeared out of nowhere beside our table.
“How’s that arm?” He touched my shoulder. “Your dad was so worried about you—and not just about your arm, about your life! How long ago was that, anyway? . . . And how ’bout Hong Kong? Your dad told me you were over there. What were you doing there? Bet ol’ Placerville feels small now! I’ve never been to Asia. Born and raised in SoCal; moved up here and never left. Did a rotation in Dublin once, though. One of the best times of my life. What ya doin’ in ol’ Placerville?”
I wondered, briefly, how the man breathed. His lips hardly seemed to keep up with his mouth. Continue reading