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Some Thoughts on the Secret of Life

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1 Some Thoughts on the Secret of Life
Dance like nobody’s watching; Love like you’ve never been hurt, Sing like nobody’s listening; Live like it’s Heaven on Earth. Presented by Mark Warren Texas Association of Counties This presentation is a compilation of a lot of things that enrich and inspire my life. I have used and relied on them for years. As I prepared to present a demonstration class in 2005 called “Life Lessons – The Mayonnaise Jar, Coffee and Chocolate”, our Project Coordinator, Tiffany Thorndike, asked if I had a handout for the class in which I demonstrate that our lives are never as full and overwhelming as we think they are. That’s what this is – just a little collection of things I’ve bumped into along the way. I hope they are as helpful and comforting to you as they are to me. First, the title – a spin on my “Harmony in the Workplace” presentation, in which I use the vehicle of the “secret of life”. My contention is that there is such a thing, and it is real and something that we can all grasp and practice. The backdrop of that presentation is the song “The Secret of Life”, written by Gretchen Peters and made famous by Faith Hill. Some of the phrases of the song are used in the titles of the slides. The subtitle – “dance like nobody’s watching…” is a quote by Mark Twain, and of course was part of the chorus of a great Kathy Mattea song called “Come From the Heart” written by Susanna Clark and Richard Leigh.

2 Who packed your parachute today?
Charles Plumb, a US Naval Academy graduate, flew jet fighters in Viet Nam. Years later, a man approached and said: “You’re Plumb! You flew jet fighters off the Kitty Hawk in Viet Nam. You were shot down!” “How in the world did you know that?” “I packed your parachute”, the man replied.” I guess it worked!” After 75 combat missions, Charles Plumb’s plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile. He ejected successfully, and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent 6 years in a Vietnamese prison camp. One day years later, Plumb was sitting with his wife in a restaurant, when a man at another table came up and said “You’re Plumb! You flew fighter jets in Viet Nam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!” “How in the world did you know that?” asked Plumb. “I packed your parachute,” the man replied. Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped his hand and said, “I guess it worked!” Plumb assured him “It sure did. If your chute hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.”

3 He was just a sailor… “How many times I didn’t say ‘hello’ or ‘good morning’, or ‘how are you?’” I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor. The smallest contribution can sometimes make the biggest difference. Fate might be in the hands of those we don’t know, but that know us. Plumb couldn’t sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says “I kept wondering what he might have looked like in a Navy uniform: a white hat, a bib in the back, and bell-bottomed trousers. I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said ‘good morning’, ‘how are you?’ or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor”. Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent on a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn’t know.

4 We need many kinds of parachutes
Plumb needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down. Physical, mental, emotional and spiritual parachutes helped him float to a safe landing. In the daily rat-race, we can miss what’s really important. What do you value? Now, as we go, make the time to recognize those who pack our parachute. In recent years, Charles Plumb lectures on lessons he learned from his whole ordeal and survival experience. He regularly asks his audiences, “who’s packing your parachute?” Everyone has someone who helps provide what they need to make it through the day. He also points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down over enemy territory. He needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional parachute and his spiritual parachute. He called on all these supports before reaching safety. Sometimes in our daily life challenges, we miss what is really important. We may fail to say ‘hello’, or ‘thank you’, or congratulate someone on something wonderful that has just happened to them, give a compliment, or just do something nice for no reason. From now on, as we go along, be sure to recognize people who pack your parachute.

5 The Secret of Life is a Good Cup of Coffee…
Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson. Follow the three R’s: Respect for yourself, Respect for others and Responsibility for all your actions. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck. Each of these bullet points are from the Dali Lama’s “Perspective on the Millennium”.

6 This is Your Life and Welcome to it…
Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it. Spend some time alone every day.

7 It’s More that just Workin’ and Drinkin’ and Dreams…
Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.

8 Keep Your Eye on the Ball…
Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality. Be gentle with the earth. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.

9 Rolling Stones Records and Mom’s Apple Pies…
Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon…

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