Thanks, Pal


By Scott Robertson

I’m not a big fan of common clichés. They have their place in polite conversation, of course. They’re great filler when neither party has much to say, but something needs to be said.

“Better late than never.”

“Easy come, easy go.”

“That’s what it’s all about.”

If I can’t be original, I prefer to at least pilfer something with a little wit. Aphorisms like Mark Twain’s “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened,” or Henry David Thoreau’s “Success generally comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it,” delight me.

While overdependence on quotes eventually becomes just sort of verbal karaoke, I find having a catalogue of things wiser people have said to be informative to my handling of situations in everyday life. It is wisdom, after all.

But on the rare instance, a cliché can be of more value than the most sage of apothegms. Such was the instance as I sped (not the legal definition of speeding, of course; I always obey the traffic laws of our fair city) (ahem) up North State of Franklin toward my office one morning this week. I was late for work. My hair was still wet from the shower. My son had called the day before to let me know his apartment had flooded and he would need to move back in with us for a bit while the landlord dealt with the damage. An individual I had been working with on a project involving dozens of people had been demanding that the rest of us alter our schedules to fit her needs. And I had just “celebrated” my 49th birthday, thus entering what an older friend of mine referred to in his life as, “the first year I felt like I was in decline all year long.”

It was in that sparkling mindset that I drove past the new Pal’s location at the corner of State of Franklin and Sunset. “ALWAYS,” its sign said, “LOOK FOR THE GOOD.” Normally my sarcastic side would have kicked in, but this day was different.

“Alright,” I thought, “Let’s put it to the test.”

I was late for work. Okay, my boss probably won’t fire me for that, at least this time, so I’m in a better situation than many folks. I’ll make up the time with interest and we’ll all be good. And to be fair, I really needed the extra sleep.

My son’s apartment had flooded. As disasters go, this was pretty tame. He was able to salvage everything of significant value and his landlord appears to be handling everything in a timely and honorable fashion. In addition, my son weathered his first real-life, out-of-his-parents’-house calamity. And we get to have him home for a little while. Welcome to being a grown-up, boyo.

Next, I’d been dealing with this individual who was certain her schedule was far more important than those of several other people. You know what? It may have been. She may have been doing good work that will, in the end, have far greater value than what we were all working on together. Fortunately, I have the flexibility to deal with her needs, so I should be grateful for that.

Then there’s the little matter of the 49th birthday. Obviously, I can be grateful to have not died yet. And while I wrote in this space three birthdays ago that I didn’t think I could ever declare myself to be young again, I’m not obligated to decline. Sure, my body is governed by the biophysics of aging, as is my mind. But changing how I act and think to fit my situation isn’t necessarily declining. In fact, it can and should be a time of continued growth. If I can no longer run wind sprints, I can repurpose myself for the long run.

What’s the key to being able to do that? ALWAYS LOOK FOR THE GOOD.

That’s what it’s all about.


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