Monday, March 22, 2010

How to be Wealthy

"Every life has a scoreboard and how you choose to keep score is up to you." Roy Williams.

How do you measure how successful you are? How do you keep score of your wealth?

"Wealth is measured in months. How many months can you survive if you no longer got a paycheck and you lived completely on your investments and savings? Once that becomes indefinitely - then you are wealthy." Robert Kyosaki.

Some people measure success by their ability to hurt others. The more they hurt; the more successful they are. I knew a couple of guys who measured a successful cruise by how many women they were able to "bed" in the days of the cruise. We all know people who use crazy measurements for success. Most people tend to measure wealth and success by the amount of THINGS they have and how expensive those THINGS are.

Let me give you a few measures of success that you might now have considered before. (I borrowed much of this from Roy Williams, sorry Roy):

1) How curious are you? The more curious you are - the more successful and wealthy you are. Never lose the wonder of discovery in the universe. Never quit learning, experimenting, and discovering and your coffers will overflow.

2) How LITTLE do I need to be happy? "It is not the man who has little, but he who desires more, that is poor" said Seneca. Contentment is wealth and success, just one dollar more is poor-ness.

3) Have I proven that I care? Everyone who eats a whopper leaves a little more depressed because no one REALLY cooked that meal, but something grilled at home, burnt, and dry, and without your favorite pickle relish but done with a love for you - makes you RICH! Success is a race to prove I care about you.

4) Have I made someone's life better today? The people who focus on making other's lives better are the wealthy ones. The hoarders, racked by selfish ambition are the poor. What have you done today to make the world a better place for the people in it?

The point is that money in the bank is a poor scoreboard of success and wealth. Don't get caught up in the common, ordinary, crowd-following measurements of wealth and success. Don't be a slave to what advertisers tell you is success. I pray I have made your life just a little better with these words simply because I care about you.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Space, the Final Frontier

I caught the bug even before July of 1969. I knew all the Mercury and Gemini astronauts, I knew the Apollo astronauts as they were introduced in the papers and on the Dick Cavett show. One Christmas was especially great when my mom and dad got me the Gemini Space Capsule along with space suit and tether for my GI Joe. I spent hours floating through space tethered to that Capsule and even practiced splashdowns in our pool. I loved the space program and thought sure that one day I would take a ride from the troposphere to the stratosphere and maybe even into the mesosphere or thermosphere.

Then reality hit, it hit me when I was turned down by the US Airforce because of my two high school knee surgeries; and it hit NASA with budget cuts, wars, economies, and a "what's the point" attitude. Now with the space station nearly complete, only a few shuttles left to fly there is a malaise of what to do next.

This week, while visiting my parents and son in Florida I tethered myself to NASA again. I felt like a kid looking at the rockets, watching launch videos, watching the launch of a weather satellite from the beach and feeling the excitement of taking another small step into the Final Frontier. I believe that our deep desire to discover something new, something exciting, and something totally OTHER is a exercise of God's image within all of us. ALL of the scientists of old sought to discover the earth because within that discovery they would find a picture of the Creator. From the 50's and 60's came that same sense of discovery disguised as a space race with a cold enemy. Yet it wasn't the Russians that pushed us to space, they may have lit the pre-burners, but it was discovery of God and his creation that compelled us. Through the small, thick window of a Command Module we wiped off the moisture and said like Moses of old, "Show me your Glory!"

Ronald Reagan quoted JG Magee on January 28, 1986 on the day of the Challenger explosion, "We will never forget them this morning as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God." Yet Magee's intent, as a WWII fighter pilot, was to describe to his parents the feeling of flying. Here is the poem in its entirety:

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds, – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless falls of air...
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, nor eer eagle flew –
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high, untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

I long again to float weightless and look at the earth as more of a satellite than a resident. To drink water that comes to you as a floating sphere and dream of an amazing creation and creator. Maybe I won't touch the face of God but I would love to catch a glimpse of his reflection as he passes. I hear tickets on Virgin Galactic are now down to only $200,000 and the new space port is being built only a few hours away in New Mexico. Time and health may be running out for me but in my mind I still "top the wind-swept heights with easy grace." Won't you join me?

Things I'll say to my Grandchildren

I am going to be a grandfather soon and that gives me pause. Not because I'm too young to be a grandfather (I am), not because my kids can't handle their own child (They CAN) but because I begin to wonder what my world will be like when we can sit and talk as adults together: me and my grandchild. When I look into my crystal ball to see what my world will be like in 25 years, when I am 75 and my grandchildren in their teens and twenties, I find myself waxing political as well as social.

So here are a few things I anticipate saying to my grandchildren:

"Back when you were born we only had 2D television and the TV had to fit on a shelf or hang on the wall."

"We had to watch commercials that interrupted our shows, but that was a great time to get up and get a snack."

"Why, yes, our TV, computer, AND cell phone were different gadgets."

"We actually believed that humans could cause global climate change. Silly now isn't it?"

"We also actually believed that humans evolved from lower life forms like monkeys! How crazy is that?"

"Back when you were I kid I would NEVER have gotten a new heart made out of my own DNA. People feared cloning would lead to soul-less zombies walking around."

"You know there was a time when we used oil to power our cars, something called gasoline, instead of just making clothes with it."

"There were television shows that would actually give prizes to people who could store facts in their heads."

"Yes there were countries that actually believed if you give everything to everybody then everybody would have everything."

"Congrats on your new Master's Degree! You know, when you were born students actually had to go to class on the teacher's schedule and you would sit in uncomfortable desks and STAY IN ONE PLACE for hours at a time listening to a lecture. They actually handed out paper for you to write on and then they graded it with a red pen. Weird right?"

"I don't care how many brain memory upgrades you get, you will never be able to upload love into your head. So come here and give me a hug because I love you!"