Best of Both Wor(l)ds

He walked up to my food cart wearing the coolest sunglasses I’ve seen in a long time. The noontime glare reflected off dark blue shades encased in a yellow hue, plasticky, seemingly bendable looking frame. Patrick is a twice-a-monther. A local guy who stops less frequently than others and is always pleasant during his off-peak visits … usually after the lunch rush is over. I like that he does, when he does. This allows us time to talk as we are “similars” in life: both musicians, lovers of life, and active conversationalists.

He listens more than talks, though, because I, the blabber, apparently talk more than listen. Go figure. We’ve come to an unspoken agreement on this fact. Unsurprisingly, most in my life have come to understand this (unbeknownst to me until recently). Covid beliefs flitter about from my unfiltered face and I’m really trying to contain my enthusiasm for my own biased opinion on the current state of things.

So, we … err … I chatted as the sun came through the clouds, reflected off his spectacular specs, and warmed the already pleasant air surrounding us on a rather nice Tuesday in August.

Patrick did have a few ideas on the status of his life. I was eager to hear them because I knew the sound of my continuing voice echoing over steam tables and a grill had to be quickly evaporating any interest he had in what I was saying.

He’s a local band director currently trying to march his kiddos through a tough summer of camp to prepare for a football season that will be different from any other. Significantly less crowds, of course. Distancing and social interaction guidelines for the students will be – and are – in place. District mandates, I’m sure … although not mentioned in our conversation… are being followed. He maintains a set of expected behavioral standards for his students and, by all accounts, they are respecting them. In this copious basket of Covid conditions, he’s controlling his environment extraordinary well, I’d say. And, by extension, ours too.

If all of us do our part with what we have within our control, then the bigger issues, hopefully, will work out. This is the best of both worlds, right?

…Or, as Patrick so eloquently mis-spoke yesterday, “The best of both words.”

I sure hope he doesn’t mind my use of his name in this short reflection today. Without noting his specific height, weight, hair color, or employment location, I believe I’m immune from his wrath. Besides, doubt can be cast upon his ability to sling wrath upon me because he’s a really cool guy. He HAS to be. I don’t hang with anyone who isn’t chill.

So, it really has been the difference of one letter. Word compared to World. I often ask myself, “What in the L is going on, lately?” to no avail.

The answers don’t come easily in a black and white only two sides world. Certainly, the encyclopedia of Facebook knowledge isn’t helping. The two volumes labeled “I’m Right” and “You’re Wrong” don’t get us anywhere when read cover to cover – if you can get through their/there/they’re usage errors.

Most likely, if you’re looking to the two-headed monster of Fox News and MSNBC for information, it’ll bite your head off. That dichotomous beast will eat you up quicker than you can say, “I’m only trying to get the facts. Just … the ..f..a..”.

Washington D.C.? Yeah. Ok. Let’s entertain this system we invited into our homes 250 years ago. The invitees are drunk with power, toga two-partying their way into our lives after we asked them to leave once their time was up. Oh, wait. They can’t. There’s no limit on how long they can stay. ‘Our bad.

Patrick, in misspeaking, was exactly right.

It is the best of both words, not worlds.

He didn’t mean for me to spatula him into a political/covid blog post. I flipped the narrative briefly here from a pleasant conversation about trombones, football halftime shows, and kiddos to politics. Perhaps, in my defense, to make a larger point. Sandwich in a slight attitude with a side of logic, the irony of his statement is in the statement itself.

“It IS the best of both words”

Those two being: words and world

Oh, the division and hatred these hard days in the world because of words … if one decides to focus on them which I did above. So easy to do. Drs. Birx and Fauci, President Trump vs. Speaker Pelosi, Bill Gates and his vaccine, masks, etc… All of us can take a seat in any courtroom and give testimony on any of these. We have strong feelings and beliefs about all of it – and words to back us up.

May I suggest we try … really try … to use positive words to help heal, and nurture, our wonderful world?

This is a simple, small space request. We focus so much on what is being said by national figures. Leadership by Governors, the President, presumptive Presidential nominee Biden, commentators, columnists, personalities … all their words seem to make an impact on how we act and what we say to each other. May I suggest we pay less attention to their words and more attention to our own?

We are beautiful on our own. Our individual lives stand apart from Facebook memes and so-called friendly mandates from unfriended, friendly social media sites. Two-dimensional opinions are significantly less important than one-on-one, heartfelt discussions with someone who disagrees with you but is willing to blow the steam off your coffee from six feet away.

Utopic worlds are unattainable, I get that. Perfection is something we have to quit trying to achieve. Perfect words, as well, probably don’t exist either. Absolutes, as much as we’d like them to be real, aren’t a thing either.

So, we’re left with doing the best we can in this world … with the words we have.

You don’t need to interject “ethereal”, “opulent”, “sanguine”, “panacea”, or “dulcet” into a conversation to brighten someone’s day. A simple, “beautiful” or “wow” could suffice.

Patrick left with a bounce in his step. This had nothing to do with our chat through the late mid-day sun. He’s, simply, a happy guy. Oh, and he was soon to eat food clasped firmly in one hand which probably had more to do with his optimism than anything else at the time.

A few minutes later, I had to text him a note to ask what the actual sentence was he spoke. My brain sprung a leak while a subsequent customer approached and I simply forgot to write “It is the best of both words” down anywhere. Glad he quickly obliged. That’s what kind folks do.

Zig Ziglar once opined, don’t be a SNIOP, one who is Susceptible to the Negative Influence of Other People. Well, I’ve never claimed to be happy all the time, but my happiness, or anger, is because of me – nobody else. Doesn’t always work and I do complain about other’s actions. Don’t all of us at times? Especially now? I can find a few juicy choice words to say a few times each day as opportunities arise…

…however, the world doesn’t deserve my harmful words. Our world is a beautiful orb, despite what volcanic spew of hate anyone decides to post online.

And by “the world”, I mean US. People. All of us. Notably NOW in the midst of a two-sided viral debate of words.

Thanks for stuttering a bit, Patrick, and for your business. Fourteen days between visits is fine and I hope your students march into the season with vim and vigor representing the school with pride. They have a great leader in you. I may not know what the “L” is going on in the world, but I’m glad you are staying positive.

Words mean things. The world of ours is special. Be safe.

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