Today’s one of those days I wish we could be back in State College. I’d love so much to see our friends there, and take in 4th Fest. It was back in 2003, when I emceed the event for my first and only time. And the rain just wouldn’t stop. Because the event was being broadcast, I couldn’t just stop talking and wait for the fireworks to start — every now and then, someone would come up and say, “just fake it for another 20 minutes… things should clear up.”
Then, Fred Metzger came up on stage, and we managed to hold things together until the show began.
Now, recent events have me thinking of all kinds of things.
My heart surgery has been postponed until the week of July 11th, and I sure hope it won’t be put off any later than that. I won’t even be able to look for work for 4 to 6 weeks after that, and Tammy is still out there every day looking for a job. She’s put in a number of applications with the Guilford County Schools, and we’re hopeful that her school experience at CLC in State College will serve her well there.
I look at the grim employment statistics, and, well, here I am at 56, really untrained in much except media — and those jobs are now few and far between. But actually, I’m perfectly willing (once I’m able) to take a job doing anything: over night short order cook, pizza-flipper, greeter at WalMart — anything. And actually, that sort of has me excited about what adventures may lie ahead. I’d love to do a good, honest day’s work, and be able to leave it all behind when I come back home. Of course, I’m still out there trying to get freelance voiceover/narration work — that sort of thing I can do without too much cardiac strain. Nonetheless, I may or may not ever regain my footing and live as I once did.
But I’ve also been reflecting recently on my life to this point. And despite having made a number of boneheaded choices throughout my life and career (none of which I will recount here), there are very few things I would do differently. I’ve been extraordinarily lucky, primarily being in the right places at the right times. And I’ve been blessed with the most wonderful friends a guy has ever had.
I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the place: England, Europe, all over this great country, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Canada and other places. I lived in Honolulu for two years. So I’ve seen and done a lot.
Because of my career, I’ve met dozens of celebrities, politicians, and even presidents. I’ve interviewed The Amazing Kreskin, a drunk-as-a-skunk Mick Fleetwood, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Roslynn Carter, Lou Rawls, Chubby Checker, and others. I went on a late-night excursion in Orlando with another broadcast buddy of mine, and Soupy Sales, as we looked all over town for chili dogs. I’ve served as a chauffeur for Al Stewart, Cheech and Chong, and Don McLean.
And those are just some off the top of my head.
I was there, covering the press conference in 1983 when President Reagan called the Soviet Union an “evil empire” for the first time. I’ve had lunch at the White House, was present at the first launch of the Space Shuttle (and for several subsequent launches and one landing) and watched Challenger explode from a few miles up the beach.
I was a contestant on “Jeopardy!” in 1988 (came in second; won furniture — which my ex-wife still has).
Through a miraculous chain of events that began three years ago in State College, and picked up last year in, of all places, southern Illinois, I met Tammy — and God knows what I’d do without her. By the way, we’ve been married six months this week.
Now, sometimes its tempting to just stare into the abyss and think oh woe is me…. whatever shall I do??? And I succumb to that temptation from time to time. But I firmly believe, and believe more every day, that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. And more and more every day, I learn that prayer is a powerful force. I’ve learned that, when I pray, it’s best not to ask for things like a kid sitting on Santa’s lap. Usually, my prayers consist of asking for guidance, and the wisdom to recognize that guidance when it comes. It was not long after I started saying that prayer, back in Illinois in October, that Tammy reappeared in my life.
Above all, when in prayer, I try to spend more time listening than in talking. It’s during the silence and peace of early morning when I feel the presence of God most strongly — and the reassurance that if I keep that faith, and look for guidance, it will be provided. It has happened far too many times for me to ever doubt. So we are, in the face of all odds, optimistic and faithful that, although life will probably never return to what we once knew as normal and comfortable, it will still all work out. We have a roof over our heads, enough to eat, a house filled with love, and a simple life. Now all we need is employment. Well, that and heart surgery. One day, as they say, at a time.
It’s also quite amazing how many people have urged me to turn the experiences of the past several years into a book. And there’s nothing I’d like more than to write a good, inspirational book based on what’s happened. I’d also love, at some point, to become a motivational speaker… offering hope and faith and optimism and confidence to those who find themselves going through the roughest parts of their lives. Of course, it would probably be prudent to wait until we see how all this turns out first. Although I’ve done a good bit of writing, I’ve never actually considered something on the scale of a whole book. But I’m reasonably sure I can do it… and if I’m meant to, then I will. It actually would make a pretty interesting story… and, I think, an inspirational one. And there’s nothing I love more than connecting with people during a speaking engagement.
Okay, well, now I’m rambling. Hope you don’t mind… but occasionally the random thoughts just sort of tumble out, and this is one of those occasions.
To all of my great and wonderful friends and family members, we hope you have a fabulous 4th. Remember what it means. And have a low-fat, low-sodium hotdog and a Diet Coke for me. Happy Independence Day!