Random Acts of Purpose?

Nice, Respectable Young Men
Nice, Respectable Young Men

Yesterdays post was a day early.  So today’s post will remain a personal reflection (but still with a message, if you pay attention).  The big gig, the 30th anniversary reunion is tonight, Saturday night, not last night.

Saturday night is traditionally the week’s most popular party night. However, 30 years ago, it was really just another night, not much different than the others.


Because every night was a party night. At least for me. Was one of those folks addicted to a good time.  Literally.

It’s a wonder I’m still alive.  Anyway, this morning, one of my college buddies wrote this note.  Seems yours truly, in spite of my irresponsible, good-time behavior, had it in me to try to make a difference for others. Here’s the excerpt:

“As I prepare for tonight, my mind drifts back to the person that wrote me a letter during that summer of 1980 and gave me the hard sale to join the colony during the upcoming fall semester. THANK YOU JEFF!! I can remember how you described the brothers and how you thought I would benefit from joining them. Wish I still had the hard copy of the letter, but now it is only good memories. Words will never be able to describe how much I have benefited as a person by being part of the greatest group of “balanced men”.  So many memories and they are still continuing. Must be impossible for outsiders to understand. But, WE DO!!”

Don’t Let Our Blind Ambition….

Today’s post has a personal an historical context, and there is a message to be gleaned, but it’ll be more challenging than most posts to figure out.

One of the best ways to have peace at midlife is to have deeply-rooted relationships.

Tonight, there are a bunch of Sigma Phi Epsilon brothers (50-year olds) reuniting near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for a 30th anniversary celebration.

While attending West Chester State College (later West Chester University) 1977 – 1983, I became a “founding father” for a fraternity that earned it’s charter in 1980.

Mind you, I ain’t really the fraternity type, but the ten fellas who where chosen to start the “colony” where my friends, fellow Physical Education majors. Ended up being president (still wondering why) of the Beta (2nd) pledge class.

It took a year and about 36 young men to make it happen.

There is something remarkable about laying the foundation for something versus joining something already in place, without all the blood, sweat, tears, and bonding that occur from an overwhelming challenge to do what hadn’t been done before.

Through the years, this core group of founding fathers have had annual gatherings.  We were all single in the early years, but gradually wives and children started showing up.

Toso, Benny, Brad, Hop, Rick, Cort, Howard and a few others where the glue that kept the communication open and alive for three decades.

This Jimmy Buffett song, Cowboy In The Jungle, is dedicated to the Penn Tau founding fathers:

Don’t let our blind ambition, erase our intuition. Trying to cram lost years into two or three days.

Roy Noel (and Jack Noel), told by Jennifer Noel

Your grandfather, my father, died in July of 1974. I was 29. Just returned from a three week trip to Europe with the Pennsylvania Ambassadors, a group of about 200 kids in three musical groups…..a chorus, band and jazz band. We toured England, France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. A fun trip. I saw the queen of England riding side-saddle in a parade on her birthday. You mentioned that your grandfather didn’t talk to you. He wasn’t into spending time talking. He was a “doer”.

He worked two jobs for most of his life and knew how to fix almost ANYTHING around the house. He did so many things for your dad when he bought the house you grew up in…….and he would have done anything for him. He thought you were an absolutely beautiful child. I remember when my mother baby sat you for about two weeks when your mother had her appendix removed. He took loads of pictures of you…..having your bath in the kitchen sink and lying on the kitchen table on a blanket, playing peek-a-boo with you.

I have NO childhood memories of him holding me, hugging me, or doing anything with me. He was always working….providing for his family. He nearly built the inside of the house on north Main St. in Spring Grove. Before we moved in, it had no electricity. He wired the entire house. It had no sewer. He had one of his co-workers from Reads Standard, in York, helped him install the sewer pipes. I remember it because they melted five pound pieces of lead to pour around the joints to seal the pipes together. It had no furnace. It had ONE running faucet in it. He put the toilet, bath tub and shower in. Built a bathroom. There was none. My room was split into two room so the house could have a bathroom. He put wall board on all the walls because the walls were nearly rotten. Later, he cemented the cellar.

Installed the washer and dryer. His way of showing love to me was to “be there” for me. It is probably the single most influential reason that I have never married…….because I never learned how to relate to available men. The one relationship that I did have with Charlie Reed (he was a real darling)….graduated from Millersville with a BS in Secondary Ed. English major. He broke up our relationship because he got tired of hearing me say that I didn’t think I was good enough for him. Actually I was………I just didn’t feel worthy….because my father never gave me any attention.

That’s how it works, you know. So, the point being, it wasn’t that he didn’t love you……..he just didn’t talk about it. I hope this brings some light on the subject.

The Alternative To Hard Decisions

There's Another Catch
There's Another Catch

The alternative to making hard decisions isn’t easier decisions, the alternative is disaster.

And there’s another catch.

The harder you work, the luckier you get.

For real.

There’s Always A Catch

The Short Cut?
The Short Cut?

Yes, there is a catch with being personally responsible for your mind, your body, your spirit, and your money.

And this won’t make me very popular, and it goes against traditional stereotypes of motivational writers and speakers, who are tempted to make people believe there are “secrets”.

There are not.

And so you absolutely have to admit this to yourself.

If you don’t, you will always be plagued by what if’s, should have’s, could have’s – the shoulda, woulda, coulda syndrome.

The antidote?

Bust your back and focus on life’s big four. There is no short cut. And if you have young people in your life, teach them, as you travel forward.

The long way is the short cut.  That’s the catch.