Announcement – Future Game Plan

Here’s the game plan for the way ahead for this blog.  I’ve completed my Autobiography through Chapter 7 at this point and now it’s time to start a rotation of topics once again.  For the next couple of weeks I’m going to begin to catch up on some other topics.  I will continue Jonathan’s Dream and finish posting what’s remaining for both Organizational Aerodynamics and Nurturing Organizational Growth.

I’ll also continue again with my online novel, Portraits of Life.  You haven’t missed anything at this point because nothing further has been written.  I have pondered where these characters will go and what might happen to them in the future, and I’ve decided that eventually they will interact with each other and their lives will all somehow meet up, but I’m not certain yet as to how that will all happen for everyone.  So stay tuned!

Then, as Advent is less than six months away now, and Christmas four weeks afterwards, I’m going to start posting the Christmas Songs that I’ve written in order to have them all posted online by Advent.  In many respects, the Christmas songs I’ve written have some of my favorite lyrics, as they tell the story of Jesus’ birth from various different perspectives.

Eventually, I’ll take the DAT (Digital Audio Tape) versions that I have of my songs and transfer them to individual CD tracks so that the simple demo versions of my original songs that I’ve made will be available for any musician to listen to.  They will then have the lyrics, chords and melodies of each song available to them to study and play if they wish.  That may happen eventually, but not until my backlog of historical material has been posted and I’m all caught up to the present day – whenever that will be.  I give credit to a friend of mine at work who is a great music lover, an excellent singer and an avid Frank Sinatra fan, for suggesting that I must eventually put the audio version of my songs online…so despite my inadequacies as a performer and a singer (and there are many, many of them), as a songwriter I would like to have the melodies available for all to use – because as a musician, I would find them invaluable if I wanted to play one of the songs I’ve written.  I think this is what I meant about making myself vulnerable…

Towards the end of June I have the time to start a new project, and I’ll start scanning my photo albums into the computer so that I can post photos that are relevant to my autobiography.  I won’t post anything in advance of the actual storyline (except for the Gulf War photos that have already been posted), but I’ll post the photos as the autobiography unfolds.  All in all, starting after the July 4th holiday weekend, I’ll then go back to a complete rotation of topics and photos, so that I can get everything online in equal measures and at a uniform pace.  That way, both you and I get to sample many different things on a regular basis, and I’ll even go back to writing original articles about whatever comes to mind from the pile of topics that I have “racked and stacked” just for that purpose!  :)

I’ve had time to “ponder” where I’ve come now with this blog, and to think about where it is ultimately going.  Of course every author would someday like to be published, but there is something very profound for me that I discussed in the article, “Expecting Nothing In Return.”  I like the freedom and the expression of posting everything online for free.  I think the internet is the very future of publishing itself anyway – everything will eventually go online and Google will have it all at your fingertips for your reading pleasure where and when you want it.  There is a great amount of authenticity involved in this process.  There is a certain honesty in putting one’s life online, “warts and all.”  This blog will always be rated “PG” because I won’t put anything here that a child couldn’t read for themselves.  The Truth is a very organic approach to life.  Someday, I will no longer be here, and the record can stand as I have written it to the best of my ability for potentially a long time afterwards.  So the ultimate aim of this blog is the Truth, to document how I’ve both lived and viewed life, as but one person of billions of human beings to have experienced the privilege.  In this way, when that final day does come, announced or unannounced as it may be, the result of this effort will be the story of a single life, a single person, who looked for both truth and meaning in what he called, “Life, Love and the Human Condition.”     

Cheers,

Mark    

In Search of the Meaning of Life – An Autobiography (Chapter Seven, Part Seven – The U.S. Bike Trip Continues)

Tuesday, October 26, 1976     Day 35     70 Miles, Total: 1255 Miles     $10.10, Total: $298.79

We got up at 8:00 a.m., and Bruce said that Dave’s alarm had gone off at 6:00 a.m., but I hadn’t heard it.  Once I do get to sleep, I sleep like a log.  So we packed our things up, said goodbye to Jan, and rode on.  We saw some other bikers that were riding to Florida, and they said that the local YMCA was a good place to have breakfast, so we tried it out.  We ordered eggs, sausage and pancakes for each of us, but the waitress got the order wrong and only brought one order.  She probably didn’t think that we could eat that much.  We decided not to argue, and I ate the eggs and sausage while Bruce ate the pancakes and paid $2.60.  After cashing a check downtown, we rode south on Highway 401, and had a second breakfast of pancakes and sausage for $4.00.  After continuing on south with a tail wind for about 15 miles, we stopped at a Tastee Freeze for ice cream and spent $1.50.  Then after another 15 miles, we happened across a Hardee’s and had a milkshake and a Coke each for a total of $2.00.  With our eating behind us, we got down to business and made excellent progress all the way into Fayetteville, NC.  We bought a twelve pack of Michelob to celebrate, and went over to Dave and Bren’s house.  Dave is Bruce’s brother and is stationed here at Fort Bragg in the Army.  Dave was home, and Bren came home a while later, only to be surprised at the door by Bruce.  We had a good party that night, along with Roger and Bob, two of Dave’s friends from the Army.  Dave and Bren have a nine month old son named Chad, who is a really neat little kid.  All for now.

Wednesday, October 27 through Monday, November 7, 1976     0 Miles, Total: 1255     $91.00, Total: $389.79

Visited with Dave and Bren for 13 days.

(1994 Editorial Comment:  We were very happy to have reached Fayetteville, and for the chance to stay with Bruce’s brother’s family.  This was just like being home again for us, and it was our second “oasis” on the trip so far, and the first break in the journey since Louisville.  The weather was nice, and we concentrated on relaxing and enjoying ourselves.  We saw the Freedom Train in Raleigh, and visited Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base.  We also bought two pairs of new Levis, had Bruce’s boots resoled, and bought two machetes.  We thought the machetes would come in handy some day.  This was also my first exposure to military life, as Dave had to keep working while we were there.  At Fort Bragg there were soldiers marching and running in formation while singing Army songs and helicopters flying in the air.  Pope Air Force Base had large airlift aircraft to watch, and we got to see Raleigh in style, without the bikes.  All in all, those 13 days were very relaxing and enjoyable, and Dave and Bren’s hospitality was very much appreciated.)

In Search of the Meaning of Life – An Autobiography (Chapter Seven, Part Six – The U.S. Bike Trip Continues)

Thursday, October 21, 1976     Day 30     65 Miles, Total: 1010     $14.50, Total: $249.51

We cleared out of the pavilion and traveled east on Highway 250 into Charlottesville.  We stopped at a Humpty Dumpty hamburger restaurant and spent $4.50, but the food wasn’t very good.  The wind was very strong, gusting to 35 mph, and when we saw that Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, was on the top of a hill we decided to skip it.  We continued south on Route 20, the “Virginia Byway” or better known as the “Constitution Route” according to the signs.  Along the way we stopped at a grocery store and spent $10.00 on a lot of canned food.  There were quite a few large old stately southern homes along the route, but later there was a marked contrast of poor, broken down shacks.  About the time we were thinking of finding a place to camp for the night, we came across a house set back from the road and surrounded by the scrub pine forest that blanketed that part of Virginia.  In the driveway was a Cadillac, a Blazer and a Grand Prix; not to mention an inboard/outboard speed boat.  So we decided that this house was just as good as any other to ask permission to camp nearby.  We asked the man at the door if we could pitch a tent in the back corner of their yard, which was huge, and he said ok.  After the tent was set up, he and his wife invited us in for lasagna, and at the time I think it was the best meal that I had ever eaten (JoAnn and Gene – Mr. and Mrs. E.R. Davis, Dillwyn, VA).  In the morning Mrs. Davis invited us in for the biggest breakfast of our lives: toast, eggs, sausage, coffee, orange juice.  Mr. Davis was in the wood pulp business, and came back home for a late breakfast from work.  We stayed for a short while after breakfast to listen to Mrs. Davis tell us her family’s life story and to catch up on the local gossip, then we had to ride on.

(1994 Editorial Comment:  The land in Virginia was changing from the rocks and old forests of the Appalachians, to scrub pine forests and sandy earth.  Gone were the vast mountain vistas and scenic views, but now I was beginning to get the “coast fever.”  I coined the phrase that “it’s all downhill to the coast from here” and must have quoted it a million times between the Appalachians and the Atlantic Ocean.  But the funny thing was that there never was a “downhill to the coast” road, and there was even a sand dune to climb over before making it to the beach once we were at the ocean.)

(2009 Editorial Comment:  We had now traveled 1,010 miles and passed the first really big milestone so far on the trip.  This was our first experience with “Southern Hospitality” and the Davis family took us in as if we were part of their family – as if long lost “relatives” – and Mrs. Davis brought us up to date with everything was happening in their family, in Dillwyn and in the wood pulp industry.  What a fantastic experience this trip was for us, and meeting and talking with people along the way was quickly becoming the trademark experience of this trip.  What had started out as adventure – bicycling, camping and traveling – was evolving into an adventure focused more on life, as we met people along the way that helped us and that we ended up relying on.  Again, Mrs. Davis was extending to us her warm Southern Hospitality as a way to “mother” us while we were out on the road – in what I believe was a tribute to all mothers everywhere.)

Friday, October 22, 1976     Day 31     45 Miles, Total: 1055 Miles     $6.00, Total: $255.51

After we left the Davis’ house this morning, with a gift of a can of stew for the road, we rode down through Farmville and ate at a local restaurant for $5.00.  Then we kept on riding, and met a guy from Theta Kai fraternity at Hamden-Sydney College.  He said that we could crash there for the night, so we ate some bananas ($1.00) and other snacks, and went over to the college.  The frat house was a really bad mess, but we put the bikes in the basement and watched the Ali-Norton fight on TV, and then some of the Carter-Ford presidential debate before going to bed in the basement.  During the afternoon we had gotten in some Frisbee practice in the front yard of the frat house, and there was the usual music playing from speakers propped up in the windows, and guys drinking beer on the front steps.  We slept on a little stage in the basement that was covered with dirt, as it was the cleanest place that we could find.  The rest of the basement was a garbage dump, with cans and garbage all over the place.  We salvaged two warped spring bed frames and slept on them, which wasn’t that bad.

(1994 Editorial Comment:  The sun was shining, the temperature warmed up a bit and we took most of the afternoon off enjoying the chaotic atmosphere of the frat house.  It was time to unwind a little and have some fun, and that is exactly what we did.)

(2009 Editorial Comment:  The basement of that frat house really grossed us out, and was the kind of place that you could hardly walk through for all the junk and trash down there, and where you certainly didn’t want to touch anything.  Despite our surroundings, we managed to find a “sanitary” way to deal with everything and were able to get some sleep.  The frat house environment for a 20 year old that hadn’t partied very much in life was a real circus – and fun.)

Saturday, October 23, 1976     Day 32     55 Miles, Total: 1110     $20.18, Total: $275.69

We slept pretty good last night, got up at 8:00 a.m., and left early.  The road took us up into Keysville, where we bought milk, two boxes of natural cereal, and breakfast rolls for $3.50.  After our breakfast, we rode south on Highway 15 until it became a divided highway.  On that highway there was a very tall forest observation tower that we climbed, and afterwards we ate some cereal at the tower’s base and lay out in the sun, although it really didn’t get very warm.  We continued south on Highway 15, and stopped at a Tastee Freeze for a couple of Sundays – $1.50.  Then we rode on into Wylliesburg and then on to Red Oak.  We found that there wasn’t much in either town, and kept going south until we got to Buggs Island Lake.  We crossed the lake on a bridge going into Clarksville.  We stopped at a police station in Clarksville, and they let us sleep in a side room of the station.  It doesn’t get much safer than that.  We dropped off the bikes and went to eat at a restaurant, and although you won’t believe this, we splurged and ordered a half chicken each with tossed salad, vegetable, potatoes, rolls, milk, strawberry shortcakes with whipped cream and ice cream.  It was all topped off with a bottle of Michelob beer.  The total came to $15.18, which shot our budget for a month, but it was really good.  We decided that we couldn’t live on canned lasagna forever.  I only had $12.00 with me at the time, so I walked back to the police station to get a traveler’s check and came back.  It’s about 7:30 p.m. and we’re getting ready to crash for the night.  If we get an early start tomorrow then Fayetteville, North Carolina, should only be two days ride from here.  I’m sure that we’ll sleep good tonight.

(1994 Editorial Comment:  We were loosening up again, after the challenges of the mountains that we had left behind.  The trip was starting to become fun again, the weather was warming up, and we could almost smell the Atlantic Ocean’s salt air breeze from where we were.  We were resigned to the fact that our money was starting to run out quicker than we had planned, but our attitude was to enjoy it while we could.  Besides, in two days we’d be at Bruce’s brother’s house, and then we could relax for a while.  Still, plans were being sketched out for finding a job, for when and where we would need it.)

(2009 Editorial Comment:  I remember as I wrote the dinner account in the log book that no one would believe the meal that we had ordered and eaten.  In a way we were celebrating having made it through the Appalachians and it was important to enjoy our success – no matter how fleeting or short lived.  What’s the point of going on an adventure if you can’t even enjoy it and celebrate now and then?  The traveler’s check episode was actually funny to read about again.  We carried all of our money in traveler’s checks, and every time we cashed one it was very obvious that our money was dwindling – fast.)

Sunday, October 24, 1976     Day 33     30 Miles, Total: 1140 Miles     $11.00, Total: $286.69

When we woke up it was raining, so we stayed in bed a while longer until 8:30 a.m.  By 10:00 a.m. the rain had stopped, so we decided to take our chances and make a run for it.  About ten miles north of Oxford, NC, it started raining and it continued until we were just about into town.  In Oxford, we went to a Hardee’s hamburger restaurant and spent $5.00 on dinner.  After dinner we went over to the local police station and asked them if we could stay in a back room out of the rain, and they let us put the bikes in a council room.  Afterwards we walked through the town, but there was nothing going on on a Sunday.  We bought some ice cream for $2.00, and then bought some breakfast food and snacks for tomorrow – $4.00.  Back at the police station we made some Jiffy Pop in the council room, but we cooked it a little too long and it smoked the place out.  Then we watched some football games on TV, followed by 60 Minutes, and then decided to go to bed at 8:00 p.m.  All for now.

Monday, October 25, 1976     Day 34     45 Miles, Total: 1185 Miles     $13.00, Total: $288.69

We left Oxford and rode south on Highway 15 after eating our breakfast of donuts at the police station.  It had rained that night, and it was lightly sprinkling when we left.  As we rode south the road went up and down, and never did seem to straighten out.  In a small town we bought bananas, milk, and orange juice for $2.00, and took a lunch break.  Then we continued south on Highway 50 on the way towards Raleigh, and saw one of the policemen from Oxford while he was off duty.  The road continued on like a roller coaster into Raleigh, and we soon found ourselves on a highway that must have had twelve lanes.  In town we went to the Salvation Army, after the firemen in town gave us directions, but no one was there.  It started raining, so we waited for a while under the overhang of the church.  From there we cycled into the downtown area, cashed a check, and stopped in at a Chamber of Commerce office and asked for directions to N. Carolina State University.  We hoped to find a frat house or someplace to stay for the night.  It started raining once again along the way, so we stopped at a sub shop and ate three submarine sandwiches and washed them down with four beers for $5.00.  After asking direction again, we started out in the rain, and I saw a girl riding a bike with touring panniers on it on the other side of the road.  At the light she rode over to us and explained that she and her boyfriend had been riding from Buffalo, NY, and had had some problems and were staying in Raleigh.  She invited us to stay in their apartment for the night.  We were happy to get out of the rain and to get a shower.  Actually it was a bath, and that night we all went out for two more subs and six more beers for $6.00.  Then we crashed for the night in their apartment.  It turned out that the place had fleas, and I didn’t sleep at all, since the fleas were biting me all night long.  Such luck.  They were nice folks though – Dave and Jan.

In Search of the Meaning of Life – An Autobiography (Chapter Seven, Part Five – The U.S. Bike Trip Continues)

Saturday, October 16, 1976     Day 25     45 Miles, Total: 825 Miles     $7.20, Total: $202.41

We woke up early, and were on the road by 9:00 a.m.  Our first stop was a restaurant for pancakes and bacon – $5.00.  Then we rode on past Spruce Knob, the highest point in the state.  We turned east on Highway 33, after having been traveling south, and right away we met a mountain in front of us.  The locals called it Northfork.  After we had walked the bikes two miles up the mountain, a couple of old men in a truck stopped and asked us if we wanted a ride to the top.  They said it was four more miles to go.  As we were limping a bit anyway and quickly calculated that another four miles would probably ruin our ankles, we accepted the ride and put the bikes into their truck.  When they opened the door for us to climb in, a whiskey bottle rolled out onto the ground.  The two of them weren’t feeling any pain – that we were sure of.  We couldn’t believe just how high the road went up the side of that mountain, and it seemed like it went on forever, even by truck.  At the top of the mountain they said that they were going on to Franklin anyway, so they took us the next ten miles into town.  We figured that it was a good way to make up for the lost time that we had spent climbing Seneca Rocks yesterday.  After they dropped us off, we rode on a way longer and later rested by a river to eat four peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  After our lunch, we rode on to Brandywine, where we bought some breakfast rolls, chocolate milk, and ice cream for $2.20.  Just outside of Brandywine, we stopped at the George Washington National Forest to camp for the night.  All the camping spots had been filled, so we camped in a field with all of the extra hunters that were in the area at the time.  There were a bunch of hunting dogs in the field with them, and the dogs were putting on quite a howling concert.  We were given some fuel this morning for our camp stove by one of the climbers, and we used the stove to heat up a can of lasagna and beefaroni.  The meal tasted very good warm, for a change, and the stove worked fine.  There is a shower here at the official campground, but it turned out to have only cold water, and we decided not to use it.

(1994 Editorial Comment:  We had gone through one fifth of our money in less than a month, and still felt like we would be lucky to last until Christmas on the money that we had left.  Florida was looking better all the time, especially surrounded with the cold October weather we had at the time.  This wasn’t Ohio anymore and the further we went into the mountains the farther away from home we were beginning to feel.  We had come 825 miles at this point, and we had acclimated ourselves to the weather and to life on the road.  Even with the nagging ankle problems, which started out from not enough pre-trip preparation because we were working too many hours through the summer and I was recovering from dental surgery, we were starting to feel “road hardened” from the trip.  The process of even pushing one of our heavy bikes miles and miles up the side of a steep mountain wasn’t an easy one, and we knew that we were getting stronger with each passing day.)

(2009 Editorial Comment:  Before the trip we hadn’t purchased any fuel for our brand new camp stove, and as the weather wasn’t really bad at the time we didn’t give it much thought.  Tonight we were glad to have the fuel that was given to us – and a hot meal on the road for once.  I later made a pen and ink correction here, to account for our later financial reconciliation, to indicate that we had really gone through one fourth of our money in less than a month.  Everything that lay in our future was unknown to us, but we were enjoying the present – even with all of our difficulties.  This was for us a real adventure – into the unknown.)

Sunday, October 17, 1976     Day 26     40 Miles, Total: 865 Miles     $7.00, Total: $209.41

It rained all night long last night, and the sleeping bags and some of our equipment had gotten wet.  When we woke up it was still raining, and very cold.  After a short while it started to snow along with the rain, and then it all turned to snow.  It snowed for an hour or so, collecting on top of the hunter’s cars, but not sticking to the ground.  When it finally stopped, we got dressed, and as the showers had only cold water, we made a plan for the morning.  We hitchhiked into Brandywine together and bought $7.00 worth of stew and soup to heat up on the stove, as we were out of food this morning.  The stove is worth its weight in gold.  We started the trip without fuel, and up until yesterday we hadn’t been too concerned, but now it was just too cold and we needed warm food.  Once we got back to the tent, we heated up some chunky soup, packed up our wet tent and equipment, and started on down the road to Harrisonburg.  We walked the bikes five miles up the Shenandoah Mountains, and there was snow all over the mountain tops, and about two inches of snow covered the trees along the road.  It was pretty cold, and we were wearing our warmest clothes with wind pants and windbreakers over everything else.  We cruised down the other side of the mountains into the Shenandoah Valley, and finally arrived in Harrisonburg at nightfall.  We had left the campground area at 2:30 p.m. this afternoon.  We went into town and walked the bikes from one end of town to the next, looking for a place to sleep.  I got a flat tire somehow along the way, probably from all of the curbs in town.  Sidewalks are bad luck it seems.  We came to Madison College, and met a guy named Chris by the library who said that there was an empty room in the house he was renting, so we went along with him.  After a warm shower, we settled down to a good night’s sleep.

(1994 Editorial Comment:  That morning in the George Washington National Forest I couldn’t help but compare our situation with that of George’s “rag tag” army during the Revolutionary War, as they waited to cross the Potomac River.  It was so very cold, and we were wet, and out of food.  The situation was looking pretty bleak as we looked out of the tent into a blizzard of freezing rain and giant snowflakes from the confines of our tent.  At times we were faced during the trip with a decision to make, and even if it wasn’t a life or death decision, it often seemed like it was at the time.  Our choice was to go back into town for food that day.  Other times it was to pack up the tent in the rain and make a run for a barn, or to leave a train tunnel for no promise of anything better in the next town.  It is only after being challenged, and successfully overcoming that challenge that you are faced with at the moment, that your life is enriched and grows in new dimensions.  It is a poor life that has never been challenged, that never knows what potential was there all along, and that doesn’t have in reserve the knowledge and confidence of past conquered challenges to provide a foundation for overcoming future challenges.  We were survivors, and no matter what was placed in front of us, we were going to make it through each and every day.)

(2009 Editorial Comment:  We left the bikes with the hunters to hitch a ride back into town, figuring who’s going to steal anything from a field full of guys with guns and dogs?  The clothes we normally wore every day on the trip were Levi’s jeans, a T shirt or long sleeve shirt, a blue jean jacket once it got cold and a down vest over that.  On this occasion we had on our gloves, watch caps, and rain gear over everything.  We layered everything, and as we went through the day we changed layers as necessary.  In this case it was really, really cold; and we had on everything that we could put on.  The only problem with layering was sweating inside all of the layers, but we did our best to let the air flow in without freezing.  We were so used to getting wet by now that it didn’t really matter much – wet was wet – from rain or sweat.)

Monday, October 18, 1976     Day 27     40 Miles, Total: 905 Miles     $12.10, Total: $221.51

We got up at about 9:00 a.m., showered, said goodbye to Chris, and rode on Highway 33 over to the Skyline Drive.  In Harrisonburg we ate breakfast at Burger King for $5.10, and then purchased $7.00 worth of groceries at the local grocery store, buying soups and canned stews.  Once on the Skyline Drive we went south, and the road turned into a roller coaster, going up and down all the time.  We decided to try and make it to a mountain campground that was up ahead, but it was dark before we got there.  The campground was on the top of a mountain, and we had to push the bikes up the mountain a long time before we got to the top.  We finally made it to the top, almost dead from exhaustion, and from the bitter cold.  We got out the camp stove and heated up a couple of cans of food.  After eating, we still had to go higher up another road to find the campground.  No one was there when we finally arrived, and we found that one of our flashlights was dead since it must have been left on in the backpack.  So we set up the tent in the dark with only one flashlight.  The temperature dropped to 10 degrees that night, but we managed to stay warm enough, which was probably because we were so tired that we didn’t notice.

(1994 Editorial Comment:  I remember being so exhausted trying to make it up that mountain, only to find that the campground was never just around the next bend.  There are times when you are so tired that you start to give up caring anymore, and you just want to lie down where you are.  I can also remember being that tired when climbing a mountain in Utah, and again while climbing in the Grand Canyon.  It was so cold that night in the dark that setting up the tent was an almost impossible task.  Had it not been for that hot meal and a short rest, I’m convinced that I would never have made it to the campground, and would have collapsed on the side of the road.)

Tuesday, October 19, 1976     Day 28     40 Miles, Total: 945 Miles     $12.00, Total: $233.51

We woke up in the morning, amazed that we hadn’t frozen to death.  We finished off a box of natural cereal that we had with us, and got up and packed.  I washed my hair in the sink of the campground’s bathroom, which woke me up in a hurry.  We continued on our way, riding south on the Skyline Drive, and it continued the same roller coaster trip from the day before, as the elevation varied from 1900-3500 feet, not quite the level ride that people had told us it would be.  We finally made it to the Waynesboro exit, and ate lunch at a Howard Johnsons for $8.00.  Earlier in the morning we ate two cans of stew for breakfast, and two cans later while resting at a scenic overlook area.  Our route then took us down out of the mountains on Highway 250 towards Charlottesville.  We saw a campground about ten miles east of the Skyline Drive, and stopped in.  After paying our $4.00 fee, we set up the tent and were invited to have dinner in a camper by an older couple.  We had ham and all the trimmings, which filled us right up.  Bruce kept right on eating while I started writing this log book entry, and he cleared the whole table off, even finishing the jello bowl.  Now we’ll go and take a hot shower in the campground’s facilities, and then crash for the night.  That’s all.  P.S. – When we were on the Skyline Drive, some guy went nuts with his camera and took our pictures for about ten minutes.  We also saw someone riding a horse along that scenic, but hilly, route.

(1994 Editorial Comment:  Bruce and I made an interesting observation many times during this trip, and that is that the majority of people can’t give directions to save their lives, much less describe the terrain and condition of a route.  Usually when given directions, we would have to discount most of what we were told because of wrong information.  Every now and then, someone would describe for us perfectly what lie ahead, although that was very rare.  For you see, we studied our maps all day long during the course of the day, and again at night in preparation for the next day’s route.  Then armed with a good understanding of where we needed to go next, we often asked for directions in order to reconfirm what we already though we knew, or for extra detail as to what to expect along the way.  Most of the time we would have been better off asking people to predict the weather.)

(2009 Editorial Comment:  We were in a “grind it out” phase of the trip now.  Chris had been nice to let us stay in his extra room two nights ago, but otherwise it was camping out in tough conditions.  The guy with the camera on the Skyline Drive must have seen something in us that really caught his photographer’s eye, probably the “road hardened” travelers that we had become by then.  The Dobson’s were extremely nice and kind to us in the campground as they must have seen a need to take care of us in what probably looked to them as two “road weary” charity cases, as we ate everything that was set on the table before us that night.  Regardless of what people saw or didn’t see in us, we were as immersed in this adventure as if we had fallen into the deep end of a swimming pool – treading water for all we were worth to keep our heads above water.)

Wednesday, October 20, 1976     Day 29     0 Miles, Total: 945 Miles     $1.50, Total: $235.01

Well, it rained all night long, having started out just when we went to bed.  The dirt that we had pitched the tent on the night before became a sea of mud by morning.  My new air mattress must have a slow leak in it, because it collapsed about half way through the night.  We woke up, and I made a run for the showers, and then Bruce worked up enough courage after a while to do the same.  We sat the rain out all morning, while staying dry under the overhang from the roof of the shower house.  At lunchtime we were invited back into the camper for coffee, and our elderly friends actually forced us to stay for lunch, and we almost ate them out of house and home, after they first twisted our arms of course you see (Arthur W. Dobson, Cambridge, MD).  We stayed in the trailer with them (a silver Airstream trailer if I remember correctly), for a couple of hours talking and watching it rain.  Mr. Dobson then suggested that we ought to go down to the campground’s office, and ask them to use the pavilion that we hadn’t seen yesterday.  The Dobson’s insisted on paying for our camping fee of $4.00, and we packed up and walked the bikes about 3/4 of a mile through the rain to the pavilion.  We washed the mud off of the tent and gear, and hung everything up to dry under the roof of the pavilion.  We spent $1.50 on ice cream and amusement games, as there was little else to do while it rained.  The rain is starting to let up now, and we’ll probably go to sleep pretty early tonight.  The weather tonight should turn out to be clear and cold.

(1994 Editorial Comment:  Between the guy taking our pictures yesterday, and Mr. Dobson and his wife taking care of us here in the campground, we must have looked like charity cases.  We had more gear on our bicycles than anyone had ever probably seen before, and our standard blue jeans and blue jean jackets were probably looking pretty worn by now.  The Appalachian Mountain chapter of our trip was now behind us, and we had survived.  The land was beautiful, but the temperatures and the amount of gear that we were carrying had taken a toll on us, and all that we could think of now was making it to the coast, and then on to sunny Florida.)

(2009 Editorial Comment:  I think that Mr. and Mrs Dobson saw in us that familiar parental fear of somehow seeing “their” children or grandchildren out on the road and in a bind as they looked at us; and for all parents everywhere took pity on us and decided to do what they could to help us out.  We were more than appreciative – we were extremely grateful for their assistance in completing this last portion of our Appalachian Mountain adventure successfully.)

Original Song – “Green Eyed Sally”

Green Eyed Sally is a complex song about relationships.  It tells the story of Sally, a girlfriend or spouse who has decided to throw away her current life to go off and search for herself – for who she really is and wants to be.  The story line discusses the age old tale of ‘the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence’ and the personal search for meaning and fulfillment.

There often comes a point in people’s lives when they realize that the dream, or song, that they carry somewhere deep inside of them has been deferred too long – to the point where they suddenly realize that they never even attempted to live out their hopes and dreams.  Once they realize this, the tendency is to make an irrational decision to throw everything away and finally chase that dream before it’s too late.  Too often they are too late and ill equipped to succeed in their last ditch attempt to rescue their lives – and in the process others get hurt – spouses, children, family and friends.  How much better it would be to deliberately live a life with purpose and meaning all along, so as to not face a mid-life crisis in a panic after realizing that you never even reached for your dreams.

Green Eyed Sally builds over four verses to peak at the song’s conclusion.  The singer’s impassioned plea is an attempt to build a bridge to her and find some common ground for her to return home, “I’m looking at your rainbow’s end right before our door, I know that you’ve always wanted a little somethin’ more, Maybe you and I can find, Somethin’ worth staying for, Won’t you come back to me…”

~~~~~~~~~~

I recorded my original song “Green Eyed Sally” on Set Two in 1996, and it tells the story of a woman who has left home to search for herself – while her significant other makes an impassioned plea for her to return back home. If I was to do this song again I would begin much slower, instead of racing from the beginning, but this is simply a snapshot from that day in my life ~ enjoy! ♡ :) Mark

https://soundcloud.com/mark-jones-100/original-song-green-eyed-sally

~~~~~~~~~~

(Emailed versions of these songs lose their chord alignment and formatting, so refer to the original post and/or the scanned lyric sheet as your guide!)

 "Green Eyed Sally" - "You Get What You Pray For", Collected Works Volume XIII, Copyright 1992, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved

Green Eyed Sally

“You Get What You Pray For” – Collected Works Volume XIII, Copyright 1992, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved

Intro:

E/A     (x4)

D/A     (x4)

E/F/G7/D

Verse One:

D                G   

Green eyed Sally

                D                        G

Won’t you come’ on home to me

D                G

Green eyed Sally

D                       G

Come’ on back to me

                   A

You’ve been chasing every rainbow, lookin’ for your pot of gold

                   E

You’ve been running around with every guy, that you could grab a’ hold

      F

You turned your back on me, and left me standin’ in the cold

                G7                  D

Won’t you come home to me     (x3)   (End)

Verse Two:

D                G

Green eyed Sally

       D                     G

You know I love you so

D                G

Green eyed Sally

        D                     G

Why did you have to go

       A

You packed your bags and moved away, drivin’ on down the road

       E

You said you’ve got to play the field, before you got too old

       F

You threw away your life with me, tryin’ to lighten your load

               G7               D

Don’t you still care for me     (x3)

Verse Three:

D                G

Green eyed Sally

           D                     G

Where are you runnin’ to

D                G

Green eyed Sally

         D                       G

What are you going to do

           A

You’ve run around this town all night, flirtin’ with every guy

          E

Has it ever crossed your mind to stop, for awhile and wonder why

F

Guys will take you home but then, they’ll always say good bye

                G7         D

Won’t you still love me     (x3)

Verse Four:

D                G

Green eyed Sally

D                          G

Won’t you think of me

D                G

Green eyed Sally

D                                       G

Home’s where you ought to be

      A

I’m lookin’ at your rainbow’s end, right before our door

   E

I know that you’ve always wanted, a little something more

F

Maybe you and I can find, somethin’ worth stayin’ for

                G7                 D

Won’t you come back to me     (x3)   (Return to verse one and repeat)

Original Song – “Masquerade”

Masquerade is a special song for me, that is, if it was possible that one song could mean any more than the others to a songwriter.  Every song holds something special and unique in a songwriter’s heart, because the song itself is an extension and a direct reflection of that heart.  Conceptually, as if in a dreamy video, the singer is walking through the reality of what is life today, and looking around and commenting on what he sees – without complete clarity or understanding himself – but no one seems to notice him, hear him or even know that he is there.  He is a detached presence trying to get everyone’s attention and wake them up to how they’re living, but they keep going about their normal lives.  The song is about the contrast of good versus evil, beauty versus emptiness, kind hearts versus cold hearts, awareness versus unknowing, love versus pretense, truth versus masquerade and what’s possible versus the status quo.  It starts slow and passionately and slowly builds in intensity.  During Verse II there is a sharp, dramatic and momentary pause or hesitation after the word “stop” – before immediately beginning again with continued intensity.

Someone not from our world – say a visionary angel who came to our world to enlighten us – could rightly ask us to justify why we live and have structured a society the way we have.   Why have we placed the emphasis on ourselves and not on others?  Since we live for such a short relative time span, why don’t we concentrate our priorities on values instead of possessions?  When love is the most precious element of the universe, and is universally free and in unlimited supply, why isn’t the foundation of our society constructed with such a wondrous substance?  Why do we hold currency and precious metals as a currency of exchange – instead of kindness, tenderness and love?

When we finally experience Heaven, we will truly understand what it means to love, to be loved, to cherish and to hold dear the things of the heart.  In our human experience we can’t understand the vast potential of possibility that could exist here on Earth – if we only but tried.  One thing I’m very sure about though – if I was to start over with the Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs on the living room carpet in order to build a new society completely from scratch – it wouldn’t look anything like ours does today.  Here I’m talking about the social fabric and not the political structure.  For humans, nothing can replace democracy, but even that can be improved upon.  The emphasis in my new world would be on truth, on values, on cherishing time as a precious commodity, and heartbeats as a measure of units.  Value would come from hearts that are true, and our treasure would be the love we share and give away.

Perhaps dreaming of things unknown, but long hoped for isn’t a prestigious job title in our society today – but sign me up – because it’s the job that I want and the job that I strive for.  I would rather be a volunteer in a self-defined imaginary position, than to accept something less.  Because time is fleeting and short – and this just may be the very last job title that I ever hold – even if no one reads it or recognizes the value in it.  It really doesn’t matter in the end, because it’s the job title that I’ve given myself – “Dreamer of All Things Possible, but Unknown to the World.”  Welcome to my world – there’s room for everyone!

~~~~~~~~~~

‘Masquerade’ is another song from my first recorded set of songs, and you can tell how my voice wavers a lot from my nerves ~ especially in the first half of the song before settling down a bit in the second half of the song. In the coming days I’ll post one song a day from all 19 sets of songs that I recorded back in the mid-1990’s ~ enjoy! ♡ :) Mark

https://soundcloud.com/mark-jones-100/original-song-masquerade?utm_source=soundcloud&utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=twitter

~~~~~~~~~~

 "Masquerade" - "You Get What You Pray For", Collected Works Volume XIII, Copyright 1992, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved

Masquerade

“You Get What You Pray For” – Collected Works Volume XIII, Copyright 1992, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved

Verse I:

Am

Everywhere I look around

  G

I see the sights and hear the sounds

    D                                  A

Of life, as I pass along my way

Am

Things I see and things I hear

      G

Are often cloudy never clear

D                                   A

Where, is the truth in life today

      Am

The world has turned itself upside

G

Down the things we’ve lost can’t be

D                        A

Found, it’s only a masquerade

      D        A

It’s only, a masquerade  (x2)

Chorus:

C                          G

Where, has beauty gone

D                                   A

Where, have kind hearts gone

C                   G

Why, is life so cold

D                    A

Why, does evil hold

      C                          G

The hearts, of so many men

   D              A

I pray, Lord Amen

       C                      G

That love, will fill the world

        D                      A

That love, will fill the world

      G                       A

That love, will fill the world

Verse II:

Am

Can’t you see the things I see

G

Can’t you feel the things I feel

D                                      A

As I look around me every day

Am

Why does the world have to go on this

G

Way why don’t we stop –  and

D                                 A

Say, we’ve had enough today

Am

Let’s, build a world based on

G

Love, build a world we can be proud

D                      A

Of, instead, of a masquerade

D                  A

Instead, of a masquerade  (x2)

Expecting Nothing In Return

I came across a timely quote today as I was doing some more pondering.  The quote was found on BrainyQuote.com, and is attributed to musician Matthew Sweet: “Creativity is much better when it’s free.  Someone can take it and sell it if that’s what it needs, and from that standpoint, you have to have a label.  If you could make your music and just give it away and somehow make a living – that would be the best scenario.”  Essentially, this blog is all about creativity and providing the fruits of it to anyone who cares to read it for free – my songs, my books, my life story and my thoughts about life in general.  There is a sense of perfect freedom in doing this.  Luckily I have a day job, but that’s not really the point – let me explain.

All of my writings were carefully preserved over the years, and only a select few had ever known about them, let alone read them.  I had thoughts of some day being a published author, but that day had never arrived – and everything was stored in boxes in the garage where no one was reading them anyway.  Then in a moment of serendipity a friend suggested that I start a blog – and I’ve never looked back.  Giving away my writings and songs for free is really the ultimate in creativity.  I work at my own direction, for my own pleasure and for my own higher purposes.  I have no one to answer to except God.  It is like the concept of unconditional love or forgiveness – it costs us nothing but provides us with everything in return.

Over the years when I gave it pause for consideration, I wondered about the value of prayer in an isolated and solitary way, such as monks or nuns living a life of seclusion and prayer.  I only began to understand the power of isolated prayer and works when I began writing songs.  I would work hard at writing a song, putting it on paper and practicing it at home.  As I never evolved into a real performer, all of my work and practice was essentially for myself – but in time I began to see the big picture in what was happening.  Since my songwriting ability began with a prayer, I was always very careful to preserve the work that I did and to treat it with utmost respect – writing everything down carefully, typing it all out, copywriting the work, and even making simple recordings to capture the final result.  I always did the same for my writings, with the notion that I was saving them for some greater purpose someday.

One day while I was practicing my music at home, I began to understand what was really important behind my creativity.  I realized that I spent a lot of time with my songwriting and very few people had actually heard any of my songs actually played.  I was as usual practicing them to myself and for myself.  My wife and son were in the house but involved in other activities and I was alone in a room practicing with the door closed.  It was then that I understood the purpose of it all.  It really doesn’t matter if no one else hears my music, I thought to myself – God hears it.  He is listening and watching and observing, and what God is listening to is the music of my heart.  My songs were a form of prayer, and God was the only listener.  Through my songs God knew my heart and my soul, which in the end is all we could ever ask for.  There can be no value placed on time alone with God – it’s priceless.

I then knew the value of an elderly grandmother living alone in a quiet life of prayer.  I knew the value of nuns and monks praying in isolated communities in a life of prayer and silence.  I knew why when we pray we are to do it in an isolated place and not on the street corner – because our prayers are God’s work and He is their intended audience in a direct link that requires no external measure of worth or value.  There is nothing in the entire universe that God isn’t intimately aware of, so He doesn’t need us to bring anything to His attention.  What God does need from us is to know and measure our heart, our desires, our hopes, our fears, our requests and our petitions.  Through prayer God weighs the intention of our heart, and answers our prayers in ways that are often beyond our understanding.  Our work, our lives and all that we do, is a continual prayer as we offer up to God the very best that our human hands can produce and our hearts can hold.  In this journey, any one piece of it or the entirety of our effort is not where the value actually lies – but it is in our heart and in our prayers that the value of our lives is actually measured – by God alone. 

About Me: Mark D. Jones

Mark D. Jones

Life, Love and the Human Condition http://livelovethinkexist.com/ 

The Adventures of Sam the Tugboat http://samthetugboat.com/ 

Writing has always been my passion over the years, but it has always taken a back seat to the rest of life.  I was discussing with a friend back in 2009 how little we both knew about blogs and she said to me, “Mark, you should write a blog!”  You always know when an idea hits you across the forehead or the little cartoon light bulb goes on above your head – this was just such a moment for me – serendipity we call it.  That night I struggled with the software to set this blog up, which is actually very easy for anyone with half a clue and wrote my first entry – “Welcome To My World!”  It was an exciting moment for me, and an opportunity to write down my thoughts and perhaps have someone actually read them.

Since I was in the 6th grade I had always wanted to be a Veterinarian and after a challenging year and a half of Preveterinary Medicine studies at Michigan State University, it became clear that Veterinary Medicine wasn’t in my future.  I had never really traveled much from my home state of Michigan, so I decided to go on a great adventure.  The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien were always my favorite books and I yearned to wander off down a winding path into a distant forest like Bilbo or Frodo Baggins.  So I decided to take a journey and go on a great adventure…

Since I didn’t have much money, didn’t own a car, motorcycle or a horse and walking would take much too long to get anywhere – I decided to bicycle around the United States.  Everyone thought I was foolish for dropping out of college, but I didn’t care – and I set about planning my trip.  I had maps everywhere in my dorm room as I pondered my upcoming quest – not quite the search for the Holy Grail but it was to be my own great adventure regardless.  I talked Bruce, a friend of mine, into going on the trip with me and in the Fall of 1976 – America’s Bi-Centennial Year – we rode on down the highway to start our great adventure.

After almost a year and 8,000 miles of pure adventure, no accidents or major injuries and most of our wits still about us, we ended our trip in Seattle.  We had traveled from Michigan to the east coast; down to Key West, Florida; along the Gulf coast to Texas; on to Colorado and up to Seattle, Washington.  Bruce returned to Michigan to continue his life, but I never really stopped living my adventure…it only took on many different aspects and filled many journals and yellow legal pads of my assorted ponderings and writings.

Before my bicycle trip I had written some poetry and had tried without success to write some song lyrics and music.  I knew that I enjoyed writing and during our bike trip I kept a journal of our travels.  After a few years in Seattle and various adventures in the northwest, including co-piloting a hot air balloon – I left on a Pan Am 747 bound for London, England, on a solo bicycle adventure through England, Scotland, Wales and France.  After a few months I flew home to Seattle, but my adventures continued on.  I later decided to return to college to study Business and earned my diploma in Business Administration from Michigan State University in 1981.  Pondering what my future life in an office cubicle would be like, I decided instead to choose adventure once again.  I had always wanted to be a fighter pilot and fly jets, so I joined the Air Force and spent 20 years as a Navigator (Weapon Systems Officer) in the fighter world – I couldn’t qualify as a fighter pilot because I wore glasses.

My Air Force adventure took me to Europe again for 16 more years.  I lived eight years in Germany – where I met and married my wife of 27+ years – and eight years in the quaint English countryside of Oxfordshire and Suffolk Counties.  I flew jets and lived my dream.  I deployed to the Persian Gulf War, so I really did become a Vet – just a different kind of Vet than I had imagined back in 6th grade – a military Veteran of the United States Armed Forces.  While overseas I was able to experience much of Europe, Africa and the Middle East – and what an adventure and experience it turned out to be!

Over all those years I continued to write.  I kept a logbook of my bicycle adventure through England, Scotland, Wales and France, started writing Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel) around 1984, created the character of Sam the Tugboat through the bedtime stories I used to tell our son around 1990, wrote 200+ copyrighted songs (music and lyrics) from 1991-1993, began writing my autobiography in 1994 and another novel called The Many Portraits of Life around 2009.  I know my life has been unique and that I have experienced and seen many places in this world – however, I have never stopped thinking or viewing life as a great adventure.  If any of my writings prove to be of assistance to you as you contemplate your own adventures in life, then the entire process will have been worthwhile!

I’m staying close to home these days, but my adventures still continue – only now they’re more philosophical in nature – instead of on a bicycle or strapped into a jet.  I’m content with that…after all, adventures are hard work!  Now I can just sit down at the computer!

As for other interests of mine, my favorite music is Contemporary Christian as well as the Progressive Rock I loved growing up:  Genesis; Yes; Rush; Pink Floyd; Emerson, Lake & Palmer; King Crimson; etc.  My favorite books are the Bible, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  My favorite movies are The HobbitThe Lord of the Rings series and any good Romantic Comedy.  My favorite colors are soft pastels of any shade.  My favorite holiday is Christmas along with the entire Advent Season!

Thanks for stopping by – enjoy your day and come around for another visit sometime!  You can also contact me directly at:

Email: mark.d.jones2112@gmail.com

Twitter: @livelovethinkex

Google+: https://plus.google.com/106563039817258733819/posts

Cheers!  :)

Mark

It’s All About Me

Spending even a short amount of time with someone can often lead you to understand a lot about their personality, mentality, patience, politeness, courtesy, money management, general behavior and temperament.  People generally have one of two overall types of personality – they either focus externally on other people or they are focused inwards on themselves.  If someone is externally focused on others they are generally considerate, empathetic, compassionate, caring, kind, temperate, sensitive and possibly introverts.  I’m not talking about a “used car salesman” external focus as in “I want to sell you a car,” but in the way a grade school teacher gives all of her children specialized attention like a mother hen taking care of her chicks.  It’s the same as a mother cares for her children, or a volunteer assists the elderly in a retirement home.  For these types of people “it’s all about them” – meaning the focus is on other people and not themselves.

When people have the behavior traits and personality to focus mainly on themselves, their motto is, “It’s all about me.”  They are generally extroverts, and to a varying degree – loud, aggressive, driven to get ahead, arrogant, rude, pushy, self absorbed, hot tempered and all about themselves – classic “Type A” personalities.  There are many shades of temperament and everyone falls somewhere on a sliding scale between considerate and arrogant.  It’s along this graduated scale of temperament that our behavior falls and we can be “pegged” by others as to who we are and what our behavior is – from only spending a short time with them.  Whether choosing a business associate or colleague, a future spouse or partner, a friend or mentor – to really understand them you have to know their personality – and the clues are always there very early on in any relationship, but you have to choose to pay attention to them.  When people say that love is blind, they often refer to the fact that when people fall in love they only see what they choose to see in their partner – when everyone around them can see the person for who they really are – because you can’t disguise your personality to everyone, all the time.  

Personality traits are like fingerprints – every one of us has a personality template or overlay that describes who we are to anyone that observes us.  Our personality traits are not set in stone, but over time they begin to settle in gradually like the lines on our face as we get older – until we become our personality as our personality becomes us.  It is possible to change our personality, just as we can change our heart – if we want to.  It’s hard work and not many attempt the transition, but if you find that you don’t like the person you’ve become, or are becoming, you can decide to modify your behavior and actually become the person that you really want to be.  It is hard work – but worth the effort!

Our faces shape to conform to our personality over time, and by the time you reach middle age if you are a happy and smiling person you’ll have nice upward turned smile lines at the corners of your eyes.  Everyone that meets you can tell instantly that you have a bright and sunny outlook and personality – and that you’re most likely an optimist.  If you have a frowning, glum and “sour puss” disposition in life, your mouth is bound to carry a permanent frown – from how the muscles of your face are formed and contoured over time.  Because women have finer facial features, they seem to have more pronounced personality traits etched into their faces than men do.  However, an angry man will develop an angry face over time – because that’s the way the face conforms to personality as we age.

People are creatures of habit, in that “we are what we think and do.”  Over time we can’t separate our thoughts and daily actions from who we really are.  Tendencies turn into habits.  Habits become patterns of behavior.  Patterns of behavior evolve into character.  Character defines a life.  One of the most radical notions for society over 2000 years ago, was that Jesus spent as much time explaining that what we think on the inside of us matters as much or more than what we do on the outside.  For the first time the focus was on the interior life, on our thoughts and what we hold dear in our heart – because what we hold in our heart is what will be displayed on the outside – either directly or indirectly.

When people are being considered for a high level position, during the job interview and evaluation process, the company often takes them out to dinner.  It is during this dining out experience that the company’s executive officer can see the candidate in a different setting that perhaps will reveal more about their personality, behavior and temperament.  Since we are creatures of habit it is hard to “change our spots” in a public setting, unlike during an interview when we’re on our very best behavior.  The company can evaluate if the candidate is ready on time, follows directions to wherever they are to meet, is dressed appropriately, is courteous to everyone they come in contact with – especially the restaurant’s hostess, kitchen and wait staff.  How you treat other people says everything about your personality in only a moment’s time.  Is the candidate pushy, rude, impatient, boastful, arrogant, or abrupt with people?  Or are they patient, considerate, helpful, polite and gracious?  Do they have proper table manners?  Are they clumsy and awkward?  Can they carry on polite conversation and discuss topics, events and subject areas that are unrelated to the job they are interviewing for?  And lastly, how do they handle money and tipping?  Generosity and consideration in money matters is a strong clue to overall behavior.  The entire world of dating and falling in love is essentially a prolonged special interviewing process in and of itself, and restaurants happen to be the safe destination of choice for many first dates – precisely because you can clearly see someone’s overall personality on display.

One reason so many business meetings take place on the golf course is that a round or two of golf is another classic case where personality is very evident and on display for everyone to see.  Does the golfer show consideration and temperament, or does he curse and blame everything else for his bad shots – besides himself?  Is he honest in keeping score?  Does he discretely kick the ball to get a better lie – in order to avoid an awkward shot?  Does he wrap his putter around the closest tree when missing a putt?  Is he patient and polite to other golfers or insist on playing through and barging ahead of them?  Is he  courteous in driving the golf cart or in treating his caddy – and does he tip the caddy well?  How we play games, whether a round of golf or Monopoly, Clue or Risk – clearly shows our temperament to others.

However, I believe the most honest snapshot analysis of someone’s behavior – especially if they don’t notice they’re being observed or are under observation – is in the way they drive and behave when behind the wheel of a car, van or truck.  I always say that everything that you ever wanted to know about someone can be observed through watching them drive – and it’s true.  Every stage of the driving experience provides a clue or two in the overall picture of someone’s behavior.  Let me walk you through various steps along the way and I’m sure that in time you will be able to add your own clues and situations to someone’s behavior analysis.

Why is this whole behavior analysis important, you may ask?  Much of life is about safety, security, good decision making and making the right decisions concerning who to date, who to choose as a partner in life, who to marry, who to trust your life with and who to do business with.  So often, people get involved with someone only to have major regrets down the road – from broken hearts, broken marriages, broken partnerships and dangerous situations that could have been easily avoided.  In the “love is blind” example, all of your friends and family may see that the person you are dating or about to marry is a self-centered jerk – but you.  To be able to read people’s personalities and behavior traits right from the very beginning of a relationship can help you avoid bad decision making down the line.

First impressions really do count, and in only a few minutes you can read someone’s personality and have a very high probability of understanding exactly who they are from only observing their behavior.  Add into the mix what they say and how they say it, their background, education, grades, accomplishments, hobbies, entertainment choices, religious beliefs and practices, family and friends, living arrangements, and their credit and money management history – you then have enough information to know with certainty exactly who they are.  If a partner in a new relationship displays a troubling personality trait like heavy drinking, anger management issues, risk taking, honesty issues, sadistic tendencies, money issues – then run – it will only get worse over time when they are no longer on their best behavior.  It is not your job or duty to play psychologist and psychoanalyst to sort out all of their problems for them – that’s for professionals to do.  Don’t let them break down and appeal to your charity to help them through their issues – unless you really, really, really want to go there with them.  If you know who they are, understand their issues, get them some professional assistance, study up on the issues and feel that you can take them on – then do so with your eyes wide open.  Set down some rules and insist on their cooperation.  Don’t become an enabler or a crutch to finance them while their issues continue on without resolution.  If you do choose to help them in life, remember you get all of their issues, problems and baggage in a “package deal” that may remain with you for years and years – and if you’re not strong enough as a person to deal with it all, they may just break you in the process of trying to help.  If you are successful in helping them through their problems, then congratulations are in order – because you’ve just accomplished a very high and noble thing.  But most people aren’t strong enough to deal with their own issues and someone else’s as well – especially if they are serious and psychologically or biologically based.

I can’t tell you how many times in life I have seen a pretty young woman who has everything going for her in the entire world, choose to be with a really terrible guy, who in time misuses and abuses her in any number of ways – mentally, physically, financially, emotionally, etc.  It turns out that many of these young women suffer from low self-esteem issues that one would never have guessed in a thousand years.  They say that “nice guys finish last,” and I have never understood the choices women often make in men.  That tough guy who lives in the fast lane, drinks hard, doesn’t respect education or work – often gets the girl – and predictably the relationship turns into a disaster – for her.  So knowing who people are does matter – because relationships and lives often hang in the balance.    

So let’s get started with the driving example – and we’ll use a first date as an example.  Say a guy asks you (the girl) out on a date to dinner, and you agree to be picked up at 7:00 pm.  Even though he should be on his best behavior, his personality traits will come through his behavior because we are all creatures of habit – even when on our best behavior.  Your first clue about him, is does he show up on time, perhaps a few minutes early?  Where does he park?  Does he come properly to the door and ring the doorbell, or does he honk from the street or bang on the door?  Is he dressed as expected and well presented?  If your parents or roommates are home, is he polite, introduces himself and has a few minutes of polite conversation?  Does he look everyone in the eye?  Is he confident, self-conscious or cocky?  Does he crack jokes at other people’s, or particularly your, expense?  Does he swear and use vulgar language?  Does he have a firm but not painful or wimpy handshake?  Does he say goodbye to everyone and walks you to the car – with you leading the way or at his side?  Does he open your door for you?  Does he slam your door or his door?  Is the car clean, washed and vacuumed?  Does he buckle his seat belt and insist that you do as well?  All of these actions indicate a personality trait on a scale somewhere between one and ten – careful, courteous, gracious, thoughtful, respectful, and compassionate; or rude, thoughtless, careless, aggressive, arrogant, and self-centered.  People who’s traits center near the middle are harder to be certain about – but all sevens on the scale during their best behavior can turn into eights and nines later on when they let their guard down – as everyone does over time.  An act, if it is an act, can’t be continued forever without slipping up here, there and then later – everywhere.   

Now let’s look at the way he drives.  Does he drive smoothly and carefully, or does he mistreat the car by the way he drives?  Does he follow the rules of the road and speed limits?  Is he cautious at intersections and traffic lights?   How does he treat the other cars on the road?  Does he drive aggressively?  Does he signal his intentions to other cars?  Does he accelerate smoothly and slow smoothly?  Does he ask you if you’re comfortable – music channel and selection, volume, temperature, wind with the windows down, etc?  Does he park correctly in a parking spot or does take up two spots?  Does he accept a good parking spot that is convenient or does he get agitated in looking for the best spot as close as possible to where you’re going?   

Now let’s consider the make and model of the guy’s car, van or truck.  People buy a vehicle for many different reasons, but basic transportation needs are generally well down the list of priorities when they decide what make, model and color to pick.  A guy’s vehicle is a direct extension of their personality – and themselves.  A car salesperson knows this very well and uses this to their advantage in selling a car.  They can size someone up in five minutes based on age, gender, and finances.  Then from only a few probing questions, they can steer the buyer into the exact car that their ego wants.  This is very enticing to the buyer and if they aren’t careful the hook is bated and they really fall into the image trap.

First of all, does he buy something new or used, flashy or conservative, sporty or practical?  Has he researched it or is it a spontaneous purchase?  Can he afford it?  Does he own it outright, lease it, or was it purchased on a bank loan?  Was there a trade in, a down payment, or was it with no money down?  Does it support their profession, sport or hobby?  Do they properly take care of it – or do they spend hours obsessing over it?  Is it a sacred cow to them?  Does he treat his car or truck better than you?  The make of the vehicle says a lot – is it a sedan, sports car, station wagon, van or truck?  A sedan is generally a conservative choice.  A sports car says their personal image is very important to them.  A truck or van can be practical, in that it may support what they do for a living or a hobby – say a carpenter, outdoorsman or sportsman.  If it’s a truck and it’s huge, raised and “in your face” – it’s all about aggression.

Black is a color of aggression and that of a brooding, dark and so called “sophisticated” and arrogant mentality.  Color always sets someone’s mood, and reveals their mentality – brown or gray is boring; white, silver and gold are upscale; yellow and new vibrant colors are sunny and trendy; blue or green is conservative; red is flashy and black is aggressive and approaches mean spirited.  Show me a man’s car and I’ll describe his personality to you.  It can be a beater, conservative, practical, environmentally conscious (as in a hybrid), utilitarian, sporty, flashy, intimidating or aggressive – or a combination of types.  A Corvette says one thing, a Mercedes Sport Coupe another, a Honda Accord something else, and a Hummer or giant tricked out pick-up truck something yet again.

Bumper stickers or stickers of any type are a whole world all to themselves.  In this case they are a very direct link to personality and behavior – because they are intended to direct a behavior or message directly to other drivers around them.  Study the messages carefully.  They can reflect every type of view under the rainbow.  No stickers at all reflect a conservative and non-combative personality.  A university sticker displays an educated quiet pride.  Political messages are meant to be direct – and reflect a person’s passion of choice.  A car with fifteen stickers of every cause from a liberal, conservative or environmental point of view means that they are highly opinionated and not about to change – and will fight to prove their point.  One glance at a car’s stickers tells you everything you need to know about the owner. 

For the record I own a full size 1995 Honda Accord EX station wagon, burgundy in color, with a gray interior, in excellent condition with about 70,000 miles – and was purchased on a five year bank loan and was paid off 8 years ago.  It’s my wife’s car and the family car for trips together.  My car for driving to work in is a 1994 Honda Accord Coupe, sort of a petroleum bluish green color with a beige interior, also purchased on a four year bank loan and paid off in 1999.  It has a little rust around the right rear fender well, and is otherwise in great shape with about 144,000 miles.  Both colors were the only choices available at the time we bought them.  We’ll drive both of them just as long as we can, and the coupe will be the first one to be eventually replaced.  We contributed to and paid off early, a basic two wheel drive, regular cab, 1995 Dodge Ram 1500, metallic gray pick-up truck for our son, which he has since outfitted with a camper shell and custom set up for camping and mountain biking – with a removable solar panel on top of the camper shell and a battery pack for power when he’s in remote locations.  He’s studying to become an engineer.  From the vehicles we drive you get a pretty good picture of our lifestyle and values – conservative, practical, reliable, thoughtful, dependable and responsible, and that’s also exactly how we drive – and you’d be spot-on with your analysis.  We are exactly as we want to be, nothing more and nothing less.  What you see is what you get – and with a little practice, you too can tell everything that you need to know by observing people’s behavior and relating it to their personality.  We are all creatures of habit, and how we act and behave – describes to anyone who’s paying attention – exactly who we are like a fingerprint.

The Sailboat

The Sailboat

(Copyright 2004, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

We craft the sailboat;

God provides the materials and ability…

We chart our course;

God provides the wind, water and heavens above…

We reference the compass;

God provided the magnetism…

We navigate by the stars;

In heavens created and sustained by God…

We hold the rudder;

God directs the wind and currents…

The journey is ours;

The destination…God