Unanswered Prayers

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Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care
Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

– Garth Brooks, Unanswered Prayers

Exactly four days after returning from Gainesville with my family in tow, I was back at Tuff Decision Farm when an email came in that nearly made me cry at first when I read it.  Then, as I pondered the possibilities of chance and odds of random coincidences, I had no choice but to laugh out loud.  It was the email I had been waiting to get for eight months – the email that would turn my life around from being a living hell to a joyous and prosperous heaven on earth.

You see, right at the time I learned that my ex-wife and kids were moving to Florida, I also learned about a job opening with a large magazine publisher in Orlando.  It was not just any job, though – it was my perfect dream job that would have my name appearing on the mastheads of three monthly magazines.  There’s no such thing as coincidence, right?  So it seemed like my destiny was unfolding before me, guided by heaven above.  Yes, the time had come for all of us to leave Connecticut, and it all seemed to make sense now that everything really was… happening for a reason…

Right away, I applied, and kept pestering until I finally heard back.  “You’re perfect for this position,” I was told.  “If only we had received your resume a week or two sooner, the job would be yours, but we’ll let you know if anything changes.”  My heart sank and the tears started to form when another email message came a second later, marked confidential this time:  “P.S. – We do expect there will be a change, eventually, but just can’t say when.  Please stay in touch.”

This then became the core issue in my new marriage.  From that point on, I clung to the faith and conviction that it was just a matter of time before a Northerly wind would come up to push me South where I could live closer to my kids.  I was also dying at the thought of being able to enjoy a fulfilling career once again.  After ten long years of working in an endless sea of cubicles for a Fortune 50 corporation, I couldn’t bear the thought of going back to that or any type of job that felt stale, meaningless and empty.

My new bride felt very differently, of course.  Her kids, who were all grown, lived a hundred miles away in the opposite direction, in Massachusetts, and they had given her three adorable grand-babies.  So we fought like cats and dogs over moving North versus moving South, until we finally agreed that the only reasonable compromise was to remain at anchor here in Connecticut.  I will submit, however, that compromise is not always such a great thing in a marriage.  Sometimes, it means that instead of one person getting what it is that he or she wants, both people agree to accept something that neither one wants, and settle for being equally miserable.  After all, fair is fair – right?

Every day, I was on my knees praying to God that I would hear back about the job in Orlando, certain that it was just a matter of time.  By summer’s end, though, my hope and optimism was beginning to wane.  Worn out by all the fighting, and tired of being unemployed, I was all too happy to take a job here and settle the issue for good.  And if you’ve been following this blog back as far as this post (https://dudesatmidlife.wordpress.com/2012/04/16/the-winter-that-wasnt/), you already know how well that turned out.

And now, after all that, and just four days after my kids had returned home, already back in their schools, I could scarcely believe my eyes as I stared at the email on my screen that read, “Dear G – the Director’s position is once again open, and we’d like to know if you’re interested…”

When my tears and laughter subsided, I finally wrote back:  “If only I had received this email a week or two sooner…”

This was not the tough decision to which I’ve alluded.  I didn’t agonize over it for a second, although God knows that for months, I had fantasized about getting the hell out of here and leaving scores of bad memories behind for the balmier pastures of the Sunshine State.  And then, as my second marriage was ending and I found myself twice unemployed, I found myself a man without a country, without a home. Without a doubt, if that email had come in before I got the call from my girls’ mother, I would have told her to stay put.  Now that my kids were back, though, Connecticut was once again their home and mine, ineradicably.  Leaving here suddenly became out of the question.

I felt whole again.  It may sound trite, but I am at a loss for a better way to describe it.  Like a man shaking off an evil spell, however, I was now fully aware of how badly diminished I was, physically, spiritually, and mentally.  It would be a few more weeks before I would be able to leave Tuff Decision Farm and return to my empty condominium.  My strength was returning quickly, though.  For the first time in months, I was finally able to sit down and write.

From Lost Boy To Major Dude?

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ImageLike I’ve always said, I am fascinated by the way people are capable of changing, both for the worse and (especially) for the better.  From the sounds of it, Charlie Sheen has been coming around, and discovering the things that are truly important in life.  Good for you, Charlie – this story warms my heart.  You may be on your way to becoming a Major Dude…

http://tv.yahoo.com/news/charlie-sheen-im-retiring-anger-management-134246730.html

Godspeed, Ray

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The sequel to the saga of my near ruination, and how I pulled myself back from the edge of a steep cliff has been put on hold.  Today, I must pay homage to the man who first convinced me that I wanted to be a writer, more than anything in the world.  Here is a Major Dude who never lost his way, never lost sight of who he was, and stayed married to one woman, the love of his life, for her entire life.  When she passed on before him, he overcame his unfathomable grief and kept on writing.  His strength of spirit made him unstoppable, right up to the day he finally went to be among the stars and the heavens that he wrote about.

I was first introduced to Ray Bradbury in the third grade by a schoolchum who was himself way ahead of his grade and time.  Mark Frauenfelder, who grew up to help create the ezine Boing Boing and from there was one of the founding editors for Wired Magazine, was one of the strangest kids I went to school with.  So it was natural that he and I became friends.  We seemed to get each other right off the bat, and together, we got Ray.  Ray wrote about such things from his boyhood that we as boys could still relate to back then – such as the magical power of a pair of sneakers that could make you run like a gazelle and leap over buildings.  Ray was still a boy at heart, and he never lost the wonderment and excitement that usually disappears when boys grow into men.

Among the many tattered paperbacks that Mark loaned me with Ray’s name on the spine was my all-time favorite, The Martian Chronicles.  It rocked my world, because I totally got the fact that it was an allegory for many things.  By writing about the future and life on Mars, Ray was able to tell many unpopular and unpalatable truths about our life in this present age, here on Earth.  I was stunned by the power this gave him, and I’ve never forgotten the lesson I learned from Ray about the power of the pen.  Or, in his case, a manual typewriter that he insisted on using for his entire writing career.  Ray had a real disdain for electronic devices – especially computers and the internet.  He never wrote a single word with Word.

Today, some may say that he was not a real science fiction writer, since he never really got into researching the science of his fiction.  They miss the point, however.  Ray was a poet.  He was also a visionary genius, and was once handpicked by none other than Walt Disney himself to conceptualize many of the rides and exhibits you’ll see today at EPCOT center at Disney World in Florida.

Most of all, Ray was one of the kindest and most generous men I’ve ever met, especially among celebrities and superstars.  He was both, but I’ll never forget the time I first met him, aside from the first book signing I ever attended, where I managed to shake his hand among two hundred other people that day.

The time we really met was far more intimate and personal.  I was driving up the 405 from Orange County to Los Angeles, where I was to join my then wife, Diana, at an event she was managing for Spectrum Restaurants.  It was the Bad Hemingway Competition Dinner, being held at none other than Harry’s Bar and Grill in Century City.  It was impressive enough that Charlton Heston was the Master of Ceremonies, but when I learned that Ray was going to be there as one of the judges, judging parodies of Ernest Hemingway’s writing, wild horses couldn’t have kept me away.

Somewhere along the way, I pulled off the freeway to dash into a Barnes and Noble, and emerged with a stack of books, all written by – you guessed it – Ray Bradbury.  I racked up my credit card, since they were all hardcover, with the exception of one softcover, titled:  Zen in the Art Of  Writing.  Ray had written a book on writing?  I had to have it!

By the time I got to Harry’s, my bladder was stretched to its limit after sitting in traffic for nearly three hours.  It hurt to take a full breath.  I was compulsively early, however, and the place was relatively empty with no sign of anyone except Diana, the manager, and the bartender.  Gingerly, I pranced through the front door and kept going, right past Diana with just one thought.  Men’s room, men’s room, men’s room….

I flung open the door and was blinded by the reflection of bright  fluorescent lights, bouncing off the checkered white and black floor.  The walls were bright white, as were the urinals.  The optical illusion it created was like a scene out of a Stanley Kubrick film.

I stopped in my tracks when I saw an elderly gentleman of medium height and build, standing in front of one of the urinals.  He was wearing a badly wrinkled black suit, with a long shock of untrimmed white hair tumbling down over his collar.  While his back was turned to me, I studied him in disbelief and wondered – could this really be him, the master himself?  It could, and it was.  I also realized that there was nobody else in therethe stall was wide open and empty.

As he stepped away from the porcelain and zipped up, I pronounced the obvious with unabashed fervor and yes, love.  “You’re Ray Bradbury!” I exclaimed.  With that, I balanced my stack of his books in my left hand, and thrust out my right.  I swear, if he had his tucked into his hip pocket, I would have reached in, pulled it out and shook it anyway.

With a droll chuckle, however, he extended his hand to shake mine, and politely replied in his loud, booming voice, “Yes, yes I am!”  It didn’t bother me in the least that I felt a warm dewdrop, transferred from his hand to mine, and I was in no hurry to wash it off.  The funny thing is, anyone who knows me understands what a germaphobe I normally am.  If it had been anyone else, I would have immediately soaked my hand in alcohol.  This was completely different, of course – I would take any type of annointing I could get in hopes of tapping into Ray’s fire and brilliance, and his muse.

I can’t tell you exactly what I said to him after that.  I was babbling incoherently, I’m sure, about the many books of his I’d read, and how profoundly his work had touched my life.  Seeing my stack of books, he tactfully suggested, “Would you like me to sign one of those for you?”  I nodded, slack jawed as I tried to figure out how to explain that my real plan was for him to sign all of them.

He took the one on top, though, and whipped out his pen.  To my delight, it was the title that I had not read, Zen in the Art of Writing.  Dazed, I took it back from him and waited as he washed up and cheerily exited out the door.  I stood there for a few seconds, unable to feel my toes much less my previously aching bladder, and slowly opened it to see what he had written in his signature scrawl.  It was the perfect memento of that moment that I will cherish and keep forever:

GEORGE!  IN A CLEAN WELL LIGHTED PLACE… Ray Bradbury

A few days later, I wrote to Ray, at first to just write a quick note of apology for accosting him in a restroom.  Then, I couldn’t help myself as I went on to spill my guts some more about how profoundly he had touched my life.  It didn’t even occur to me that he would ever write back – it was just something I needed to share with him.  I had been reading his books nearly my entire life.

Several weeks had passed when I was having a particularly bad day at work, handling complaints as the manager of the customer service department for a large, well known scuba equipment manufacturer.  Buried in the large stack of of mail was a letter that practically jumped out at me.  The envelope seemed to beam with goodwill and friendship, and my heart raced when I saw the name on the return address.  To my astonishment, when I opened it, I saw that Ray had sent me an early Christmas greeting, with his own personal message to me typed around it.

I got to speak with Ray again several times over the next few years, and he was always a gentleman.  Cantankerous, funny, and eccentric, but always a truly gentle man.  There has never been anyone like him, and never will be again.  He was inimitable and unstoppable.  His imagination and his spirit knew no bounds.  Most of all, his love and enthusiasm for writing was infectious.  While other authors gripe and complain about the drudgery and misery of the creative process, Ray delighted in bounding out of bed each morning to write.  He was living proof that writing, most of all, could be – and should be – fun.

Godspeed, Ray.  I imagine you have already had the chance to sample the golden apples of the Sun, on your way to Mars…

A Calming Wind After The Storms

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Control-sensitive people can be very hard on themselves, especially when the quality of their lives erodes to such an extent that a flat tire or an unpaid bill can cause anguish, panic, or despair.  As the strategies of control continue to fail and frustrate you, as you become more and more depleted by worry or depression, one inescapable truth begins to emerge: control is an illusion.  Life cannot be controlled. – Self Coaching, by Joseph J. Luciani, Ph.D.

This is a hard truth that I learned all too well this past winter.  Life cannot be controlled, not with any amount of determination, good intentions, or perseverance.  You can set out on the water and hoist your sails, but there is no way to make the wind blow, or change its direction.  The best you can do is chart your course well away from the rocks and shoals for a margin of safety, and constantly tend to your sails and rudder, adjusting them with knowledge and skill to make the best of whatever wind is blowing.  Most importantly of all, check the calendar and be sure to sit out the hurricane season to wait for that time of year that offers the most favorable conditions for both the wind and the tides.  Or at least, stay close to a safe harbor at all times until the season arrives when it is safe to venture out over bluer waters.  You have to know the seasons…

In my determination to control my life, I ignored these basic rules of nautical science.  I jibed when I should have tacked, and a vicious headwind tore my sails to shreds and left me a marooned castaway.  In early January, after our best attempts to save it, a final fracas occurred that erased any lingering doubt that my second marriage was simply not meant to be.  I was now a man with no job, no money, no family, and no home to call my own.  I wasn’t even sure where home was for me anymore.  I only knew one thing for certain – I couldn’t stay at my friend’s home indefinitely.  There was only one thing to do now, since my rescue off this island was going to take a miracle.  I prayed, of course, straight from my heart, to the One who controls the wind and tides.

Ironically, my friend’s property is named Tuff Decision Farm.  I had certainly arrived there with more than a few tough decisions to make, but now I thought I was left with just one.  Since I felt like there was nothing holding me in New England anymore, I was now bent on leaving at all costs and moving back West to live with my folks.  The only question was whether it made sense to rent a truck to move the few possessions I had left in storage, or just leave them there for a few months and make a dash for safe harbor with whatever clothes I could jam into my car.

Exactly one day later, just as I got off the phone with Penske, my phone rang.  It was my ex-wife – the first one, calling from Florida.  The first words out of her mouth left me stunned and speechless.  It was the last thing in the world that I expected to hear, and it took several seconds to sink in.

“I want to come home,” she said.  Then, after a pause with no reaction from me, she added, “We all do – the girls miss Connecticut, and we just want to get out of here and move back as soon as possible.  There’s nothing here for us.  I need your help, though.”

Suddenly, I didn’t have any more decisions to make.  Only a choice.  Thank God, I chose to stay put and be a father again, and to crawl out of that pit of despair into which I had fallen.  I was getting my kids back.  This meant, of course, that I still had to not only get my strength back, but become stronger than ever.  In the meantime, my parents needed me back in Colorado, since my father was having surgery on his back.   I booked a flight to go help them for a week, and then I booked another one for Gainesville the week following.

When I returned, I would still have one more Tuff Decision to make – a tough choice…

The Winter That Wasn’t

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To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

— Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

It is springtime here in New England, and I am actually mourning this fact as I look outside at the dogwood trees and lilac bushes that are in full bloom, and everything else that is blossoming, sprouting, and shooting forth buds that will soon grow into leafs.   I bemoan this change of season because it makes it so damned difficult to sit here firmly rooted in my chair and write, when I am finally ready to do so for the first time in months.  More over, I feel cheated, because the season arrived more than a month early, while the winter season never really came at all.

Historically speaking, even when I lived in California, the months of February and March have never failed to bring the post-holiday doldrums and consistently grey weather that makes it possible for me to stay indoors, planted contentedly at my desk.  Here in New England especially, since the landscape outside would usually be covered with many accumulated layers of ice and snow, with more on the way throughout the end of March.  The local lakes and ponds would normally be frozen over, and littered with the ramshackle bob-houses of ice fishermen.  It’s a scene out of Currier and Ives everywhere you go, until the pre-spring thaw of early April ushers in the much less attractive (and altogether undepicted) “mud season.”

This year, however, it has felt spring-like outdoors ever since a very brief snowfall came and went back in early February.  March felt like April, and April has felt like May, until today, that is – when the mercury is predicted to spike well above 90 degrees.  At this rate, summer is just a couple of weeks away, and will likely culminate in a blistering inferno by the time July gets here.  Now, I’m not one of those zealous acolytes of manmade global warming theories, but there’s no denying that the climate, it is a-changin’….

Last year, in contrast, was kicked off by one of the harshest, snowiest winters in history, both in terms of frigid temperatures and heavy snowfalls that collapsed buildings throughout the Northeast.  The subsequent spring thaw brought us hundred year floods, followed by tornadoes, an earthquake, and Hurricane (tropical storm) Irene at the end of summer.  Freakish doesn’t begin to describe it – all that was missing was a plague of locusts and frogs falling from the sky.  And then, on October 30, autumn was cut short by Nor’easter Alfred, which rained down huge, heavy wads of wet snow upon the leaf-laden limbs of millions of trees – an event that had not happened here in New England since the Civil War, long before there was such a thing as a power grid.  Hundreds of thousands of trees bowed and snapped under the unprecedented weight, taking down power lines with them everywhere.  For more than 10 days, much of New England and the entire state of  Connecticut resembled North Korea from the air at night.  Meteorologists declared it to be a harbinger of much worse storms to come, and predicted a winter that would be even more severe than that of 2011, with record ice storms that would decimate the already weakened timber.

As previously mentioned, however, this year has so far been the polar opposite of last, so to speak.  And now, of course, the same doomsayers are already saying that we will soon pay a price for these unseasonably mild temperatures. (http://news.yahoo.com/freakishly-warm-winter-4-unwelcome-side-effects-150000944.html)

All this weirdness has piqued everyone’s interest in the Mayan calendar, which ends mysteriously and abruptly, with 2012 as its final year.  So far, there has been no apocalypse, but ah, the year is young…

From my personal perspective, these past winter months were a season of blankness that was suspended in time.  Ever since that late October snowstorm upended my life in more ways than I can count, it seemed as if my heart and mind were in a deep hibernation.  I had fallen into an abyss of despondency and emptiness that I had never known before, and to which, by the Grace of God, I hope to never return.

Speaking of Him, I can say with all honesty that my faith in God never left me.  He made it impossible to not know that He was still there throughout it all.  I could feel His unmistakable presence and His love, but I was having a crisis of faith nonetheless.  It was me who I found it impossible to believe in, because nothing in my life made any sense anymore – absolutely nothing.  I had fallen down so many times and picked myself up again, while repeating that same mantra over and over ­­– Everything Happens For A Reason (EHFAR).  While it may sound trite, it actually echoes a favorite Bible verse of mine:  “God makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him.” – (Romans 8:28)  And The Lord knows, this foolish sinner most certainly does love Him.

So I’ve always been a big aficionado of stories about second chances, comebacks, and second acts.  Rocky is on my Top 5 list of favorite movies of all time – not just the story itself, but the story behind how the story was written, sold, and turned into a major motion picture.  I’m also a huge fan of that expression about turning lemons into lemonade.

Just two weeks after Hurricane Irene hit New England, it looked like things were really about to turn around when I was offered what seemed to be the perfect job, in the perfect place, at the perfect time.  Things were finally happening for me, because I had been bound and determined to take the bull by the horns and make them happen, with my mind set on a list of goals and objectives.  I got the cart before the horse, however.  At the very top of that list was settling down again, since I’d had it with dating, post-divorce, but didn’t want to live alone the rest of my life.  I met a good woman – an awesome lady – and I married her to make sure she didn’t get away.  The problem was, we got married smack-dab in the middle of “or worse,” and we had troubles from the get-go as we found ourselves torn in opposite directions between our two families, and our very different cultural backgrounds.

Nevertheless, I kept telling myself that things would smooth out and get better as soon as I was back to working at a salaried job again, and providing her with the security that is essential to every happy marriage and happy home.  It seemed like the hand of Providence, then, when I found myself employed again, selling a high-ticket product that had gone from being regarded as a luxury item and status symbol to a coveted necessity, thanks to Hurricane Irene and the other freak weather events of 2011.  So I abandoned the silly notion of being a full-time Freelance Writer, and happily accepted the illustrious title of Sales Manager, managing the sales of automatic standby power generators, of all things.

The stress of the new job was nerve wracking, though – to put it mildly.  I was blindsided by issues with my new employer that I had naively ignored or chose not to ask about before accepting the job.  At the same time our problems at home (blended family issues) became a thousand times worse, and our situation finally became untenable after that Halloween snowstorm sent the demand for backup power systems through the stratosphere.  Overnight, it all fell apart as my “dream job” became a hopelessly insurmountable nightmare from hell, and the very next fight at home was the last straw that sent me packing.  I moved out, and moved in with my closest friend, despite the fact that his house was still without power and would be for several more days, since his town was among the hardest hit in the state.  The following month, exactly thirty days after I separated from my wife, the job finally came to a bitter and acrimonious ending.  It is an understatement to say that I felt lost, beyond comprehension.

The distance between me and my children now seemed more impossible to span than ever.  While I was working, there was no time off to get down to see them.  Now that I had the time, I was strapped for cash.  My marriage hung in limbo as I was still separated and living with my friend, without a place of my own to call home.  The truth is, I wasn’t sure where home was anymore.  My whole life was in limbo, and I was hardly the beacon of hope  – or Major Dude – that I’d hoped to be for other men, as they face their own crises at midlife.   I didn’t recognize the life that I was living anymore, because as Steve Jobs would say, I was living someone else’s.

I began to question everything.  My marriage had become my sole priority, and in making it so at the expense of all other priorities that I held so dear, I became someone I was not, and very different from the man my wife had married.  It was not the first time I had fallen into this trap, and as I denied this truth, I fell even further into a horrible malaise that took its toll on me physically, mentally, and emotionally.  I was in a weakened state that was approaching moribundity.  It was time to revisit my list of goals and objectives – my “roadmap” of sorts that I had set out to plan my life, and stage my second act and comeback.  The list was thrown out.  There was now only one goal and one objective to focus on, and it trumped all others:

GET STRONG.

But how??

Some nameless idiot coined a popular axiom – “That which doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger.”  While I can think of numerous exceptions to this, I have come to a major conclusion at this curious stage in my journey here on earth called midlife:  That which isn’t going to make me stronger, will sure as hell make me weaker – and eventually end up killing me.  It was time to reevaluate my choices and my priorities, and examine the choices I was making that made me weak, and make new ones that will make me strong.  In all aspects; physically, mentally, and emotionally.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned, repeatedly, is that there are no shortcuts in life –particularly at midlife.  You have to pay attention to the seasons, and know what season you’re in.  You can’t reap before you sow, and it’s not as simple as just starting over again.  If your field has been salted, it will do no good to plant again in the same soil.  It will also do no good to plant until the new soil has been plowed, the thistle has been cleared, and the correct season has arrived to do so.

This past winter, after everything had so obviously broken down, the time was here to build up again.  To do so, however – to clear the rubble and rebuild from scratch – would require the strength of Samson and the optimism of Zig Ziglar.  It was time to examine what was making me weak, and what would not only make me strong again; but stronger than I’ve ever been.  It was time to make some hard choices, and a tough decision…

Godspeed, Mr. Jobs

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This is a wonderful video http://youtu.be/UF8uR6Z6KLc that captures Steve’s thoughts about a single decision that transformed his life,  and ultimately, the lives of billions of people around the world.  He also speaks about his highs and lows, and moments of tremendous self doubt.  I have listened to this speech many times, and his words always ring true – particularly about the importance of loving what you do, and doing what you love for a living.  My note to all you Dudes out there:  It is never too late, but don’t forget – time is precious!

Tonight, most people are thinking of their iPhones and Pixar movies  as they pay tribute to this true genius of our century – born of the same ilk as Ben Franklin, Alexander Bell and Thomas Edison. He was a true light-bearer, and I am proud to call myself an “early adopter” of his newfangled technology. My career was transformed and took a quantum leap when my office mate – a guy named Peter Radsliff – persuaded me to buy myself a Macintosh SE20, on which I wrote and helped with the “desktop-publishing” of the original service & repair manuals for the Oceanic line of diving products, way back in 1989.

It’s hard to believe I spent more than $3K on a unit that was nearly the size of R2-D2, weighed about 35 lbs, with a 9 inch b&w screen, 1MB RAM and 20MB hard drive. You could make a very large pot of coffee in the time it took to boot up!  In retrospect, though, I’d call it the bargain of a lifetime. That wonderful, but now antiquated tool unlocked and liberated my own talents, and has since led to much bigger and better things.  I would never be where I am today without the Mac, and I owe an unpayable debt to Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and the team they led and inspired at Apple.

Long live Steve Jobs! Long live the Mac!

– G-Dude

A True Major Dude

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Among all the stories in the press today that are decrying our lack of leadership in Washington, I found this resurrected link to a months-old story about a presidency that many find themselves wishing had never ended:  http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/02/06/conservatives-celebrate-reagan-birthday-centennial-renewed-vigor/

Someday, I’d like to put together a Major Dude Hall of Fame – a list of men we can all look up to and take inspiration from.  Right now, though, I’ll name the Gipper himself my numero uno Major Dude of all time. Yep – President Ronald Wilson Reagan.

I don’t care what your politics are, you’ve got to admire this man for what he did with his life. When Jane Wyman dumped him because of his strong political views (she thought he was boorish), what did he do? Did he waffle and forget about politics so as not to turn off the next woman who would come along?

No sir. He stuck to his guns and found himself – found strength in who he was. Went on to become the Governor of the greatest state in the country (at that time), and then was elected POTUS – one of the greatest we’ve ever had. Really, just think about it. He went from being brokenhearted and devastated by his divorce to becoming the most powerful man in the world.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself that it’s different for celebrities and Hollywood actors when they go through a divorce – their lives are much easier than yours and mine. They’ve got money. Dude, just read this: During an interview actress Patricia Neal was quoted regarding the divorce: “It was, you know, just terrible because he was very unhappy. He was in an apartment by himself. … He was heartbroken. He really was, because he didn’t want a divorce from her. But Jane wanted it.” One report indicates Wyman felt her husband was “indifferent” to her acting work, focusing his attention on his involvement with the Screen Actors Guide.

Just think about that the next time you find yourself getting really down. The Gipper, alone in his apartment, crying his heart out. Can you imagine?

Politics aside, he was a great man and deeply principled. Unfortunately, normalcy eluded him in family life, as it does all public figures, but he remained very much a part of his daughter Maureen’s and adopted son Michael’s life. A Major Dude doesn’t walk away from his kids under any circumstances – biological or adopted.

His divorce had a profound affect on him that he carried with him for the rest of his life. Back in those days, you usually had to get down and dirty in order to file for – and get – a divorce. You had to truly villify the other person and drag them through the mud. He and Jane handled it with class, the best they could, but it tore him up pretty badly. So one of his first acts as Governor was to pass California’s no-fault divorce law. Years later, he was somewhat repentant about doing so and wondered whether he’d done the right thing after seeing how the divorce rate shot up as a result. He certainly didn’t intend to encourage people to get divorced. He never for a moment took his divorce lightly.

Last, but not least, the Gipper got it right the second time around. He found his soulmate in Nancy and loved her with all his heart, as she did him. There is no doubt about it, he couldn’t have become POTUS without her.

There is so much I could go on to say, but it’s mostly already been said. If anyone can think of a greater Major Dude than RWR, please let me know.

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