Posts Tagged ‘A river runs through it’

Offer to help others who cannot return the favor

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

Abraham and Tad Lincoln

“Lincoln chopped wood for widows and orphans. When he saw travelers bogged down, he stopped to help them.” Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life

“Ab Trout, a poor barefooted boy, was chopping wood one cold winter day. Lincoln came up and asked what he got for the job, and what he would do for the money. Ab said, ‘One dollar’ and pointing to his naked feet said, ‘A pair of shoes.’ Abe told him to go in and warm up and he would chop a while for him. Lincoln finished the work, and told him to go buy the shoes.”  William Herndon, Herndon’s Informant’s

“Lincoln defended the son of the widow Armstrong, in a murder case. Lincoln saved her boy from the gallows. The only possession she had in the world was 40 acres of land, which she offered to give to Lincoln as payment. ‘Aunt Hannah,’ he said, ‘you took me in years ago when I was poor and homeless and you fed me and mended my clothes, and I shan’t charge you a cent now’.” Andrew Carnegie, Lincoln – The Unknown


Phil made me feel exceedingly comfortable when I first joined Toastmasters. I felt a little awkward at the meetings because I didn’t know anyone. But Phil, a longtime member, took care of that. He was always one of the first persons in the meeting room and every time I would walk in, he loudly announce, “Here’s the professor. How are things going at the university?” It made me feel exceptionally welcome, and put me at ease, even though I was not a professor, but merely a researcher, at the university. Nonetheless, I gracefully accepted the comical promotion that Phil gave to me.

Fast forward five years. Phil falls down and breaks his leg. He goes through surgery and spends weeks in rehab. I visit him virtually every day at the rehabilitation clinic. We wile away the hours chatting, playing checkers and putting puzzles together. Phil, still at the top of his game, at 95 years old, in short order makes friends with the staff and other patients.

Mental note to self: There’s a lot to learn from Phil.

My Sworn Enemy – The Thorny Bush

One of my worst enemies is a thorny bush that blocks a sidewalk which students use

Janette Scott facing down evil plants

to walk to a high school near my house.

I’m pretty sure that it is possessed by the devil. If not cut, branches with huge thorns grow through a fence and force students to walk around it or risk cuts to their arms and legs. It’s even more dangerous at night because you can’t see the branches.

Twice a year, wearing a long sleeve shirt and leather gloves, I fight back against the devil brush branches, like Janette Scott in The Day of the Triffids. I cut the branches and carefully load the large branches into the bed of my truck. The thorns can go right through my gloves, and haul them to a large trash can in the alley behind my house. The last time I did it, I accidently stepped on one of the branches and a thorn pierced through the sole of my shoe and into my foot. Yikes!

I chalk it up as a war injury in my never-ending battle with the sinister thorn bush.

The Lone Ranger

I often do house repairs for neighbors and friends who need help. I’m pretty good at it since I often repair my rental houses. Just last week, Cynthia, an older friend and former neighbor, who had just returned from mouth surgery, called and said,

“Terry, my toilet is leaking. Can you take a look at it?”

“Sure, I’ll be right over.”

I grabbed my tool box, stopped by Ace hardware to buy a toilet repair kit, and drove over to Cynthia’s house.

I ring the doorbell.

“Hi Terry. Thanks for coming.”

“You’re welcome. How’s your mouth feeling?”

“Okay, but sore. I still can’t speak too clearly yet.”

“Did you just say, ‘Okay you bore. I steal cans of peak to clean ear pets?”


“Sorry. I was just rattling your cage. Show me where the leak is.”

She leads me to the bathroom.

As I suspected, the fill valve was broken and leaking. I replaced the valve and the flange too, for good measure. It worked like new.

“Can I pay you something?”

“No thanks. I’m the Lone Ranger. Justice is the only reward I desire. If you need anything else, give me a call.”

“Okay. You helped me a lot. Thanks kemo sabe.”

I gallantly drive away with music from the William Tell Overture playing on my cd player. I feel as pleased as punch.

I often get so wrapped up in my own life that I can’t see that other people have problems too. Imagine that! Even a minimal effort on our part to help someone, can have a huge impact on another person’s life.

Love Completely Without Complete Understanding

Sometimes it’s not readily apparent how to help others, yet we can still act.

Like when my mom was near the end of her life. I feel I could have done better, but at least I always tried to be at her side when she needed me the most.

As Norman Maclean said in A River Runs Through It and Other Stories,

“Each one of us here today will at one time in our lives look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question: We are willing to help, but what, if anything, is needed? Either we don’t know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. But we can still love them – we can love completely without complete understanding.”

Upcoming Pesentations:

April 14, 2018. “Publish or Perish.” Pen to Podium Toastmasters. Hardesty Center, 1100 S. Alvernon. Tucson, AZ, 9:00 am.

June 5, 2018. “How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones.” Arizona Society for Professional Hypnosis. Scottsdale Senior Community Center,1700 North Granite Reef Road, Meeting Room 7, Scottsdale, AZ, 6:30 pm.

October 20, 2018. How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny BonesPrescott Valley Public Library (7401 E. Civic Circle), 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Prescott, AZ.



Amazon Link


Related Links

Like Abe Lincoln, Be Prepared with a “Quip” or a Bit of Humor

Emulate Abraham Lincoln: Make Each Day Count

The “Secret” Daily Affirmations of Abraham Lincoln

Always greet everyone, no matter what they look like

Employ an Affable Lincolnesque Persona

Be a Generous Listener, as Abe Lincoln Was

Deflect Criticism with Self-deprecating Humor

Always Say “Yes”

Be a Master of Disaster – Ponder the big picture

Nourish humor and tell stories, so people say — “I felt like I had known him/her my whole life and we had long been friends.”

Awaken the Sleeping Giant Within – The Abe Lincoln Way

Convert Affliction to Anecdote – Utilizing the Stories from Your Hero’s Journey

Sunday, February 28th, 2016


“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”
– Joseph Campbell

The Hero’s Journey

In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell describes the Hero’s Journey as a life-altering quest where, after passing through trials, the hero is transformed to a higher level of consciousness.

The stages of the journey are:cave

1) The “call.” The hero sets off on a quest.

2) The journey into unknown territory.

3) The supreme ordeal. As Campbell puts it, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”

4) Sharing the wisdom gained.

Being on a Hero’s Journey enhances the hero’s perception. They feel like unseen forces are intervening to protect and guide them. The hero has a sense that everything happens for a reason.

The Hero’s Journey of Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was on a Hero’s Journey in his life long quest to become president. In Lincoln’s case, his Hero’s Journey made him aware of the lessons and stories in every day experiences. Life had meaning and seemingly random incidents held significance. He could draw out the deeper gist that existed just below the surface of most people’s perception.

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Grasping “The Big Picture”

Several years ago, when I worked in Honduras, I came across two stonecutters.

“What are you doing?” I asked the first stonecutter.

“Squaring the stone,” the man replied.

“What are you doing?” I asked the second stonecutter.

“I am building a cathedral,” the man replied.

Okay. The second guy was a little presumptuous, but he still gets points for seeing the big picture.

Your Hero’s JourneyHerosJourney41

I believe that we are all on a Hero’s Journey, and like Lincoln, we are endowed with the ability to discern the profound stories and parables that unfold before our eyes every day. We have only to be prepared to see them.

Convert Affliction to Anecdote (Activity)

Put yourself in the right perspective to capture the stories of your daily life.

Write down the significant bad things that have happened to you in life. Then, as bad and unfair as these incidents might have seemed at the time, identify some lessons you learned from them, or how you became a better person as a result.

Here are some examples (based on personal experience):

1) How missing a flight and having to spend the night in a strange city with your kids became a treasured memory.

2) How an illness indicated you that you needed to make changes in your unhealthy life style.

3) How being replaced by a chimpanzee at your job led you down the challenging path to work that was closer to your heart.

4). How you looked deep inside yourself for the fortitude to bounce back from a dismal failure.

Are the catastrophes of life bad, or is life just trying to teach us a lesson?

The Hero’s Perspective: Change Your Unholy Mess to Unparalleled the-wicked-witch-of-the-west-ozMetaphor

You show me someone who is on a Hero’s Journey and I’ll show you a resilient, unflinching individual who converts life’s challenges into stories of inspiration, strength and humor.

To paraphrase author Norman Maclean, from A River Runs Through It,

“In the end, all our failures and successes merge into one, and a story runs through it.”

Upcoming Presentations:

March 21, 2016, 7:00 am. “Finding Stories in Your Hero’s Journey.” Aztec Toastmasters. Tucson, Arizona.

April 9, 2016. “Storytelling and The Hero’s Journey.” Cometitive Edge Toastmasters. Tucson, Arizona.

April 14, 2016, 12:30 to 1:30. “Use Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds & Funny Bones, Like Abraham LIncoln Did.” Moon Valley Women’s Club, Phoenix, Arizona.

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Don’t let pride stand in the way a brighter future

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A Light Heart Lives Long #EurekaMoments 6

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Failures Can Be Transformed into Strength – #LifeLesson 11

Is it better to remain silent, or to speak up and confirm you’re an idiot? LifeLesson #12

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Turn frustration into creative energy #LifeLesson 7

Sunday, November 8th, 2015


Late for the Wedding

The Graduate

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.

–Norman MacLean

I had carefully planned to leave the house at 8:50 am so that we could arrive at the wedding, of our two friends, well before the 10:00 am start time. However, while my wife and I were ready to go, my two lazy teenage sons were still glued to their beds.

“Get up, you have to shower now in order for us to leave on time,” said I to one son.

“It only takes me 10 minutes to take a shower,” he mumbled grumpily.

“You’re conveniently not counting the time for you to get dressed and eat breakfast,” I pointed out.

My other son, responded to me with passive-aggressive silence. He leisurely showered and dressed.

I Get Irritated

In response to the boys’ snail’s pace, I expressed my irritation by muttering snide remarks like:

“We’re going to be late.”

“We should have left 10 minutes ago, just to arrive on time.”

Or, my favorite, “I’ll wait in the car!”

I might as well as have been speaking Chinese. My comments didn’t speed them up one iota and it just made me feel agitated and hostile. My heart was racing.

I thought, what’s the point of this? I’m the only one suffering.

I Change My Approach

I’d would have preferred to arrive early to the wedding, but in truth, the fate of the free world was not hanging in the balance. It didn’t matter if we get there 10 minutes early or 10 minutes late. The wedding would still go on and we would still see it.

No amount or cajoling would speed up the boys anyway, so instead of fuming, I sat down at the computer and worked on a story I was in the process of writing. I poured my frustration and nervous energy into the story. I wrote like a man with 10,000 volts of pent up energy passing through me.


By the time the boys were ready to leave, I had completed some great work on my story and I felt utterly relaxed.

Fishing – Blessing or Curse?

I experienced a similar incident in my childhood when my dad took my mom, my brother and I camping in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. He really enjoyed fishing and thought I should too.

My dad would say, “My worst day fishing is better than my best day at work.”

Yet to me, fishing was as boring as meatloaf, and I was offended that innocent fish were being killed – unless my dad was somehow only catching the guilty ones. Nevertheless, while my dad fished, I turned my attention to nonlethal ways to enjoy nature. I hiked along the river, observed bugs and climbed rocks.


Turn frustration into creative energy.

The next time I am in an exasperating situation, I will change gears and direct my energy into creative channels.


Authors note:

These stories are my attempt to glean insights from the seemingly mundane incidents that occur in every day life. My plan is to capture these “eureka moments” and squeeze all the illumination and inspiration from them, before they can slip through my fingers.

Like the storytelling of Abraham Lincoln, I think one’s own personal stories can transform both the listener and the speaker.


Related Posts

Yard Sales, Heroic Cats and Zombies

Overcome obstacles and doubts by doing more than anyone expected

Give yourself permission to feel frustration, then relax and let it go #tmoy #storytelling

A feather is better than a hammer to win an argument #tmoy #storytelling

Don’t let pride stand in the way a brighter future

Use warm memories to replace negative thoughts

A Light Heart Lives Long #EurekaMoments 6

Act Out Characters to Make a Story Sizzle (video)

Disarm Hostility with Friendliness #LifeLesson 8

You Only Live Twice – Life Provides Second Chances LL #9

Donald Trump vs. Abe Lincoln – #LifeLesson10

Is it better to remain silent, or to speak up and confirm you’re an idiot? LifeLesson #12

Think for Yourself: Never Ask a Barber if You Need a Haircut – LifeLesson #13

Virtue Is Its Own Reward

Upcoming Presentations

Nov. 13, 2015. “Once Upon A Time: Inspire and engage your audience with stories.” Present Like a Pro Conference. Desert Diamond Casino. Tucson, Arizona.

Nov. 24th, 2015. “Abraham Lincoln: Stories and Humor.” Cholla High School. Tucson, Arizona.

Dec. 15, 2015, 12:40 to 1:00 pm. “Abe Lincoln: The Greatest Storytelling President.” Old Pueblo Rotary Club. Hotel Tucson. Tucson, Arizona.

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