A Free System
It’s important to have a system. It’s even better to have a secret system. John Beck, a man on some television infomercial I saw this morning, has a secret system. I’m not quite sure what it is, because it’s secret. But apparently, I can send John some money in installation payments, and he will share his secret system with me. The only thing I know about Beck’s system is that anyone can do it and it involves buying really dumpy looking houses. I’m really not interested in dumpy looking houses, and I really would feel a bit creepy using someone else’s secret system.
I do have my own system, however. I normally keep it a secret from even myself. I’m willing to share my six-pointed system with you, absolutely free right here. I’ve been using my system for over 45 years, and it is somewhat proven and possibly effective. I can honestly say that without my system, I wouldn’t be where I am today. This system is dynamic and fluid, grounded and experienced. While my system isn’t right for everyone, it may be right for some people who aren’t me.
The first important element in the system is to be raised in a family. According to my system, having brothers and sisters as well as two parents living in the home is vital to future success. These family members offer many opportunities for personal growth. For example, the fact that I grew up sharing a bedroom with my two brothers taught me how to carve out a space and defend myself by kicking and screaming. To this day, I can really kick like a son-of-a gun, while I’ve transferred my screaming into my professional teaching career.
A second important part of my system is solitude, finding time to be alone and without distraction. From the time I became a thinking person, I’ve managed to find ways to be alone. Walking in the woods or in streams when I was a kid, toiling in the anonymity of the light room for drama productions in high school, writing through the solitude of late night, or tending garden plants that don’t particularly care for my company have all offered me opportunities for solitude. With this peaceful time, I think about things. My mind naturally wanders from aimless point to aimless point. I’ll dip in for a few seconds pondering issues that are troubling me but then just as quickly dart over to consider a bug on a leaf.
Passion is a key element in my amazing system. I’ve learned to be passionate about what I love. I enjoy lettuce, so I grow massive quantities of lettuce every spring and fall. I search for unique varieties in many catalogs. The same is true for growing tomatoes. I love to grow them, raise them from pups, and tend hundreds of baby plants. I enjoy transplanting and labeling each and every plant and then giving almost all of them away. I am passionate about my sports. I love to play basketball and am willing to risk the health of my 46 year old body to play intense pick-up games against people more than half my age.
A deep Faith in God is a most important part of my system. My exploration in this area has taken me through foundation years in the Catholic Church. I learned tradition there, and the Passion of Christ was unveiled to me. I found the rock of my life, my wife, and married her in her Presbyterian church. A few years later, I joined a small town Methodist church and it was there that my firstborn was baptized. A few years later, I became a member of a small town independent Baptist church. Again a few years later in a new town, I attended a Southern Baptist church and then another Southern Baptist church.
Each church experience for me was very rewarding on many levels during which time I encountered many people who demonstrated their Faith and beliefs, but ultimately each church experience since my Catholic youth has been spoiled by the evil side of race and politics. I never could truly get past the fact that the dark side of race and politics entered into the pulpit and the church body. Special worshippers being granted front row pews in my Catholic church (oddly in all of my Protestant churches worshippers fight for back row seats) and a class/race designation that seemed to move certain people to the back of the church and others to other churches with people of their own color are two good examples of how class and race distinctions spoil the Word of God.. That whole race/distinction has been a part of every church I’ve attended. Very simply put in every church I’ve ever attended, African Americans are not welcome.
In each of the Protestant churches I’ve attended, internal politics weighed heavily. I’ll never forget one church where my wife and I, along with another couple, ran a very successful youth ministry. Then a new family joined the church. The patriarch of this new family wormed his way onto the church leadership board after he purchased new hymnals for the church (which he pasted bookplates to trumpet his donation). Before we knew it, the youth program had been changed, and the four of us were retired from the position. At another church, time after time in Sunday school classes, the teachers and students spoke of war, hate, and money instead of love, compassion, and charity. Faith and an abiding belief in God is something that I’ve always held close to me. I take it very seriously. That being said, this is one area where my system leads to more mystery.
Find joy in everything. If you learn to laugh at the wonderfully entertaining aspects of life, you will become a far richer person. Using my system of finding joy, I tend to see something comical in just about everything. I think sometimes, people who are having far less fun than me don’t understand what could possibly be so funny. I tend to annoy people like that.
Become a leader and a part of the solution in whatever you do. If you sit back and wait for the world to serve you, all you’ll get is a heaping plate full of runny eggs. Provide a sense of direction after careful study of all that is important. Say yes more than you say no.
Find a story to tell. Share your experiences and weave them into the stories of your life. Your life is an incredible journey filled with countless chapters that have never been written or told. Find your stories in your story. Then tell your story.
I don’t know John Beck, but I’m confident that if he’d just stop selling his secret methods on buying dumpy houses to people who can’t afford even one house and started following my free six-point life system, he’d be a whole lot less wealthy.