Okay—I admit—there are now 358 movies in my top five.
My closest friends such as Les Clairmont kid me mercilessly when I exclaim yet once again, “That is the best _________ (insert almost any drink, food, book, movie, song, day, moment) I’ve ever had!
Fortunately, my dear friend and neighbor Michael Hyatt has taken some of the pressure off me. He is one of the few people I know who also celebrates every moment as the “best.”
By a twist of fate (and great parenting) I was able to grow up in the desolate poverty of coal-mining towns in the Appalachians and somehow emerge a millionaire in optimism. As Loretta Lynn says, “We were poor but we didn’t know we were poor.”
My parents did not graduate high school and had three children by the age of 21. They were children raising children—and yet, somehow I learned to savour, and yes, celebrate the magic of life.
Consider this, I am the first person in the entire history of the Elrod family to graduate high school. I am the only person to graduate college.
My parents have never been on an airplane, never been to a movie theatre, never learned to swim, and have rarely if ever traveled outside the Southeastern United States—they have never been to California, never seen the beauty and majesty of Yellowstone, Yosemite or the Grand Canyon. Ofttimes when I am enjoying an adventure that will ultimately be one of my “best”, I wistfully wish my Mom could join me and see through my eyes.
I helped teach my grandpa Elrod how to read and write. I distinctly remember his primer notebook with the three big lines, you know, the one in the middle with dashes and his Dick and Jane reader. In return, he would regale me with his adventures to California and the insatiable call of the West.
I will never forget the awe I felt watching him swim, hoping one day to emulate that extraordinary feat. It was in the Atlantic Ocean on a once-in-a-lifetime family travel vacation to Florida. We drove ten hours to Daytona Beach, stayed one day, and promptly drove ten hours back home—my brother and I watching the beach fade away in the rear window having barely touched it. But I loved every short minute of it! Yep, you guessed it, it was the “best” vacation I ever had.
My Mom often tells me in her beautiful southern drawl, as I regale her with my tales of adventure and insatiable calling, “Randy, I wouldn’t believe I birthed you, except I can’t deny you ’cause you look just like me.”
Miraculously, I managed to graduate high school, earn a full tuition academic scholarship and college degree (B.A. in Music from Palm Beach Atlantic University), and even complete a few graduate level courses.
As I grew older, I took my first (I’m now a million-miler) of many airplane flights, have a love affair with movies (I’ve been in a couple), finished a triathlon (a third of it swimming, sort of), traveled to far eastern ports of call, enjoyed African safaris, climbed the world’s highest mountains, and reveled in the cultural centers of London, Paris, Sydney, San Francisco, Florence, New York and Rome. I’ve savored the vivid contrasts of the dusty Australian outback and verdant islands called Virgin.
Why do I tell you all this? (Oh, I could tell you more—much of which you would not believe.)
To brag. No.
To influence. Yes.
Decide that every new day will be the “best.”
Decide that every new adventure (no matter how mundane or exotic) will be the ultimate.
Decide that every new sight, sound, smell, taste and touch will be in your top five.
Am I deceived? Do I live in denial?
Jimmy Dean said it this way, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”
But this Maria Robinson quote really captures the essence of this post.
“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”