You Can’t Judge a Bison by His Coat

We make judgements about people all the time without knowing much, if anything, about them.

We All Have Our Colors

The guy I roomed with for most of my first two years of college is one of the best.

Brian Johnson started as an architecture major, then became a mechanical engineering student at North Dakota State University from 1986 to 1991. We shared rooms, first in Stockbridge (a.k.a., “Jockbridge”), then in University Village. 

You’d be hard pressed to meet a kinder, more laid-back or unassuming person. Highly intelligent, too. Today he’s the vice president of global engineering for a Twin Cities firm.

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Think Positive

I experienced a convergence through a couple of communications that came my way today.

 

I experienced a convergence through a few communications that came my way today.

Communication the First

The first was a newsletter in my inbox this morning from Bock’s Office

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With Team Parents, It’s Hit or Miss

This one’s for you, Brah…

In the fall of 2016 my daughter played volleyball for Fargo South. As often happens among road warriors who follow their kids all over state to watch them play, I became friends with another parent.

Dave’s a great guy, always friendly and quick to smile. We sat next to each other for home stands, took turns driving to out-of-town matches and ate way too many Subway sandwiches together.

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Father’s Day – Rolling Thunder

The front porch of our little, off-white stucco house in Medora, N.D., was a magical place to be on hot, muggy summer evenings.  / I was about 5 years old, and it was father-son time. I’d lean back, feel the strength in his chest and the arm around me, enjoy the cracking of peanuts in one of his big hands or the aroma of tobacco as he puffed at his pipe from time to time. 

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The front porch of our little, off-white stucco house in Medora, N.D., was a magical place to be on hot, muggy summer evenings. 

I was about 5 years old, and it was father-son time. I’d lean back, feel the strength in his chest and the arm around me, enjoy the cracking of peanuts in one of his big hands or the aroma of tobacco as he puffed at his pipe from time to time. 

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Positively Brilliant

I’d never heard a more miserable, pitiful statement in my life, and I haven’t heard a more miserable, pitiful one since.

It came in an upper-level English literature course of some sort, when the group was chewing through a work by Dickens or some other dead Englishman. This woman raised her hand, then said, “When I wake up every morning, I tell myself, ‘This is going to be the worst day of my life.’ That way, I’m never disappointed.”

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Here to There. It’s Everywhere.

Change Happens – I’m thinking about transitions on this first day of the New Year. I’ve learned change is constant. Some changes are bigger and more impactful than others. We move on. It’s all good.

I’m thinking about transitions on this first day of the New Year.

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Bad to good, good to better, better to great. If you’re not so lucky it’s the other way around. More likely, though, you’re on an up-down-up wave like the rest of us. We’re all moving all the time. From one place to another, task to task, priority to priority. I suppose “status to status” is more applicable in these online-all-the-time days.

Three things about change and transitions are, at least in my mind, undoubtedly true.

Change is constant.

Heraclitus is commonly credited as the first to put this truth into the words. According to the peer reviewed Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the Greek philosopher from the late 6thcentury saw life as “…an ongoing process governed by a law of change.”  Some sources report he expressed this as, “Change is the only constant in life.” Others claim the line was “The only constant is change.” Others have it this way: “Change alone is unchanging.” Still others:  “There is nothing permanent except change.”

Which goes to show that even axioms transition down the years and depend on who is reporting them.

Some changes are bigger than others.

In 2014 my wife left her job to pursue a new career, which meant going back to school first. I couldn’t be prouder of her, and I admire her courage. The leap has been huge for our family, in a good way.

I changed jobs. So far, no day has been the same as the one before.

My daughter dropped soccer, a sport she’s been playing since she was six. That might not sound like much, but for seven years soccer seasons and tournaments ruled our lives. She’s found a new athletic passion – volleyball – which requires less travel and won’t impact our schedules quite as much. However, our two younger kids are getting deeper into the world’s game now…

It’s all good.

We move on.

Mom died in April, and all of us have been getting used to life without her. Lately I’ve been wondering when that transition might be done, but I know it never will be. Fact is, I don’t want it to be. I go on, but I think about her every day. Dad, too. And you know what? It always makes me smile inside.

My hope on this first day of 2015 is that our up-down-ups never flat line. If every day were the same, if we slid along in a ho-hum never experiencing euphoria or anguish, life would be like a dull, grey winter sky. No thanks.

This year, I plan to be whatever change demands:  sad, happy, understanding, strong, supportive or in need of support. I’ll try to be kind in everything. Above all, I’ll do my best to embrace the transition.

I hope you do, too.

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Sacred Things

She died on Palm Sunday. I think that would have made her happy, as she drew her last breaths, knowing that she was going to die on a significant day on the church calendar. I held her hand all that morning. Now I hold the bean stone.

I’ve been carrying a rock around in my pocket for a couple of months.

The smooth, bean-shaped stone is about an inch and a half long, half an inch wide and five sixteenths of an inch thick. It’s smooth, like a worry stone. Not perfectly smooth, like the kind you’d find in a gift shop. But smooth in a natural way, with some imperfections and slight ridges that make you know it’s real.

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Extra! Extra! Part II

ExtraExtra

I submitted “Extra! Extra!” (see earlier post on this blog) to Country Extra magazine, which was soliciting personal, small-town stories featuring acts of kindness.
The magazine’s editors shortened the piece considerably and printed it in the November/December issue. I received my copy in the mail last week, along with my free, full-size dinner triangle.
Ah, yes, freelance writing will make you rich beyond your wildest dreams….

Thanks for Being Here

Father’s Day, 2004

“Thanks for being here.”

My father, Martin C. Fredricks III, said this to me many times, usually at family gatherings. Just as often, though, he said it to people he’d just met, at one of my brother’s NDSU football games, for example, even if they had their own child playing. It always seemed an odd thing to say to people with their own reasons for being somewhere.

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Gee, Dad, You’re Such a Dork!

Photo of Martin C. Fredricks IV with his father, Martin C. Fredricks III
Photo of Martin C. Fredricks III with his son, Martin C. Fredricks IV, June 16, 2002 – Father’s Day

“Mart probably fell into the toilet, and Dad’s making a list of ways to get him out.”

That punch line, originally delivered by my older sister when we were just kids, never fails to bring a laugh at family gatherings. It’s a short story that recently took on new meaning for me.

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