Why Everything is the Best — and in my Top Five!

I recently saw the movie Inception — it’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. In fact, it’s in my top five movies of all time.

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.”

Thoughts?

84 Responses to “Why Everything is the Best — and in my Top Five!”

  1. This post represents many of the reasons I dig you.

    I’m hoping that the zeal you have for enjoying life continues to get on me.

    Lovely post. See you soon hombre.

  2. You and I have a lot in common except I do not live next door to Micheal Hyatt. He’s a good one. I am sure ne is blessed to have you as a neighbor. As a matter of fact I believe he said “You’r the best”

  3. Very inspiring Randy.

  4. I reminded of a song lyric that has haunted me for a few months:

    “Decide what to be and go be it”
    Vince´s last blog post ..Time for change

  5. Love this post!!

    I’ve always been an eternal optimist … but my optimism feels slightly different now because I lost it for a season … during my recovery from accident injuries that almost killed me. For a time I was a depressed, disappointed pessimist, wishing I would have enjoyed my life more pre-accident.

    Slowly it dawned on me I can’t go back or forward … I only have TODAY!

    So I learned to “To what I could, with what I had, where I was” (Roosevelt) and slowly my optimism returned … with even more value, because I now live with a new normal (pain/limitations/deformed leg) and I realize that I’ll never have this moment/this day/this me again, so I aim to live like each day is the best and tomorrow will be even better than today!

    Thanks for this reminder to “Decide that every new day will be the “best.”
    Janet Oberholtzer´s last blog post ..Mental Gymnastics

  6. I love your enthusiasm, and I love hanging out here to be encouraged, inspired and influenced!

    One of your “best” blog posts!

    “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”

    Love it!
    Rocco Capra´s last blog post ..I’ll Gladly Pay You Tuesday…

  7. Man… this one speaks right to me! This is one of the places you and I see eye to eye… I’m always on the go to somewhere else getting to experience life as it happens which if a blast.

    what makes me love this post so much is i’m always using these phrases… It’s the best, It’s incredible, It’s awesome!!! One of my top 5 experiences…

    yep… for some of my friends i adjust my reaction from great to good… but only for those who i deem necessary:)
    Spence Smith´s last blog post ..A New Way Of Running

  8. Awesome.

    This was the best blog to start my day with. It certainly goes with, ” His mercies are NEW every morning.” If we just looked at life through the amazing eyes of a child. I think that would help many more of life’s experiences to be “the best.”

  9. Love this, Randy. It has to be the best blog post I have ever read.

  10. Really incredible Randy, perfect way to start off the week. I think your next book should be about your life experiences, actually I’m requesting a series of books from you. You are way more than an influencer, a supreme, I mean the best, encourager. Thank you!
    Audra Krell´s last blog post ..Everything Christmas

  11. We have a lot in common except Michael Hyatt isn’t my neighbor. I’m the first to graduate from college in my immediate family. The first to be married one time only to my best friend, the first homeowner and the first with a professional job. My father was a farm laborer and my mother a former druggie. Christ radically changed my life at 18 and it’s been a great adventure ever since. Tx for sharing your heart.

  12. Love it! Definitely “the best” blog I’ve read in a while! :) I’m with you on all it… to quote my friend Luci Swindoll, “My goal is to live the life out of every day”.

    On a side note: I love that you’re from the Appalachia area… I’ve spent some time there (the Eastern KY end) and adore the people.
    Deb Barnett´s last blog post ..Moisturize… Moisturize… Moisturize…

  13. Love this one, too, Randy…And goes with one of my Tweets yesterday, which was…

    “If my life had a title it would be “Great Adventure” (like the amusement park)”

    My life has it’s ups and downs, just like a good roller coaster, but oh what a thrilling ride it has been…I don’t want to get off the ride of life…I’m enjoying every minute of it…Life is what you make of it!!!…GREAT ADVENTURE

  14. iLike X 1000. :) It’s your best post. My favorite. Top Five.

    “I haven’t been this happy since last time I was this happy.”

  15. I Love it. I needed the reminder today.

  16. I visited this blog on the Facebook advice of Matt Baugher. He’s the best…..oh, sorry. Anyway, great post! Loved it! I couldn’t help but think of the people who decide to cage themselves because of the way they were raised or because “that’s the way it is in my family.” You certainly are evidence that you can bust open the walls and escape to great adventures!

    Bravo!

    • @Curt, Thanks, Curt. Yes, i agree. Matt is the “best.”

      I think that is why Rich Dad, Poor Dad resonated with so many.

      I go back home and see all the same people still there, just married to somebody different.

      Some of them are very happy, others are hopelessly trapped and stuck.

  17. Your life is officially in my “Top Five Lives” I admire. Wait…not “admire” (that word is too puny and off target.) It’s your attitude, perspective, state of mind.

    You had me (today) at “a millionaire in optimism.” I have been witness to this unrestrained joyousness, your ebullience. Though we have been connected, via the World Wide Web, for some time, we only just met in-person a couple weeks ago (10/10.) You were “under the weather”—way under—and yet you showed up, with verve and elan and guided us (attendees at Ken Davis’ miraculous “Professional Communicators Summit”) through your inspiring and salient overview of New Media, social networking as business tools.

    Your head may well have been fogged-in, but your presentation was clear, focused, fun, and immensely valuable. (I thought, at the time, that had you been firing on all plugs, the room would have been too small for you.

    I’ve asked “my people” to add you to the “Five People I’d Most Like to Have a Long Meal With.” (The guest list is much longer than five names, and growing.)

    SO, until further notice, you have a seat at the table with the “RESERVED” sign. The small print says, “For McNair and the LTLG Gang. (Larger Than Life Gang.)”

    But the great acting teacher Uta Hagen once replied to an acting student who asked “You want me to be larger than life?”

    “Oh, my dear boy” Ms. Hagen said, “There is nothing that is larger than life.”

    Thanks, Randy.
    McNair Wilson´s last blog post ..• are you kidding me

  18. Great thoughts Randy! Great to meet you back in Chicago at Story! Hopefully i will see you soon, and thanks for the words of wisdom!

  19. Randy, this post is one of the reasons I love following you on Twitter. You constantly remind me that from good food and drink to travel, and everything between (art, life, philosophy, politics, friendship, community), life should be enjoyed rather than endured. Even though we’ve never met, you are in my top five mentors for how to live abundantly. Thanks for this post and many others I’ve never commented on. You are a blessing!

    Rick

  20. Inspired! Thanks for this. Even the darkest times of our lives can and should be the “best”–it may be all we have…life.
    Rich Kirkpatrick´s last blog post ..Randy Miller Feb 9 1971-Nov 5 2010- family man- drummer &amp inspiration to many

  21. I love, LOVE love to travel, to see new things, to experience cultures, and to interact with new people. My family members do not understand following people on twitter, stalking blogs, and meeting people face-to-face that you’ve only talked to online. However, I thrive on it and consider it my primary form of community most of the time.

    I grew up in WV, and my mom was lucky to graduate high school. My stepdad dropped out and joined the army. My grandpa didn’t make it past 5th grade and my grandma didn’t make it past 7th…yet Papaw was an amazingly talented masonry worker and taught me long division on a magna doodle on his porch swing when I was 7. I can only imagine what he could have done had he been able to attend college. He is an extremely smart man, but most people didn’t make the effort to see it.

    In light of this, I take every opportunity possible to push myself. I want to experience things not only for myself, but for them.
    Kayla´s last blog post ..Enchanting

  22. Thanks for posting this Randy. Your background is so similar to mine. I have been so fortunate to be able to experience a lot of things and places that my parents and grandparents would never even think about. A small town mentality can be so limiting.

  23. YES!!!

    like Benjamin Zander says, there are three ways to see things. We can see them with resignation, anger or possiblity. Thanks for always pointing out the possibitlies. i needed to hear that today.

  24. Thanks Randy. Exceptionally great post!!! You passion to live life FULLY is definitely contagious. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  25. Johnna Bigelow November 8, 2010 at 16:42

    This confirms what I’ve suspected over the past few months, you are my brother from another mother! ;-)

  26. Greatness Randy! I better understand why I so relate to you. Best blog ever, by my favorite blogger. Thank you.

    Now, if I could just get you to appreciate the greatness of McRib. The best fake meat of all time and best served with, no after, two glasses of Scotch.

  27. randy – this is why you are loved so deeply. you inspire, you encourage and you challenge people to live beyond the norm!

    thank you for that…
    tam´s last blog post ..A Letter of Thanks – No Negative November

  28. Amazing post Bro!!! Totally needed to read that. Encouraging beyond words. May I feature this blog on my site? Randy, that hour and 35 minutes I was fortunate enough to spend with you, made a huge impact in my life man…Keep on doing what you do!!!
    Sincerely,
    -Fuser+

  29. Excellent! Love this, Randy! How inspiring!
    Grant Jenkins´s last blog post ..The Broken Road

  30. Randy, so inspiring to hear more of your story! I have recently been reflecting on my lack of joy in the moments of life. Thank you for challenging me!
    Jenni Catron´s last blog post ..Sunday Highlights – Special Announcement

  31. This is the best post I’ve read all day.

    And because the day was unseasonably warm and I saw a Monarch butterfly (in Michigan) and because the moon is so crescent and the stars are like sparkling grains of sand on the shore tonight and I got to babysit my grandbaby (who is the best baby every) and because I did not miss this post (probably your best), this has been the best day!

    I drive my husband crazy sometimes.
    Sandra Heska King´s last blog post ..Bite of Heaven in a Pancake

  32. this post perfectly describes you… and why you’re loved by so many!!! :)
    brandiandboys´s last blog post ..A Moment…

  33. LOVE it!! I’m a coal miner’s granddaughter. Don’t even know if he graduated HS. He lived on the side of a mntn in WV and had no desire to go anywhere else. He did leave the country once. To go fight a war. Maybe that’s why he no longer had a desire to travel, esp out of the US. But me? Been out of the country multiple times to anywhere I can go: Europe, Mexico, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Africa just to name a few. And I’m looking forward to even more adventures. I, too, wish I could’ve shared some of them w/him. My grandmother wanted to travel but had a stroke before she could. Broke my heart. Live while you can and enjoy the trip! :)

  34. Randy, this is definitely the BEST blog post I’ve read today!!!!
    I was laughing and smiling while I was reading because I, too, drive my friends crazy and cause them to roll their eyes and shake their heads and grin a lot because I find so much joy in so many things. And I am very vocal and exuberant about it. Big shocker. LOL
    Of course, that only encourages me more to see the very BEST in them and the world around me.
    I have experienced a lot of loss in my life, ever since I was 5 years old. But I choose to seize life and savor it and live with passion and great joy because of those experiences.
    I have also embarked on a lot of crazy adventures and I loved them all.
    Life is for living and not for regrets.
    For me, life is the greatest adventure of them all. Or should I say, the very BEST adventure of them all. I don’t want to miss any of it.
    Thanks for what you shared. Life is all about second chances, third acts, new possibilities and pursuing your dreams with all your heart.
    Janet Lyn´s last blog post ..TRI to TRIumph!

  35. Inspiring stuff, Randy. For many years I used to live with regret, and anger towards my past. I always believed in the “there’s only 1 life” philosophy, and because I couldn’t change my past, I thought life was unfair, and couldn’t change anything. But recently, I’ve been inspired to make changes. Like you said, you can’t change the beginning but you can change the ending.
    Henway´s last blog post ..Digital Cameras

  36. Randy,

    This post rose and broke like a beautiful wave on the North Shore, and you rode it beautifully! It’s obvious from the comments, we onlookers enjoyed watching you ride it.

    Go back and read your post. But read it as if you were a reader and the writer was God. That’s what happened as I read this. I read it as God (through you) excitedly calling me out into this big beautiful crazy world to live and worship in it (because He knows what awaits us).

    I get drunk watching my children’s faces as they see things for the first time. Imagine how excited God gets watching us encounter and experience this world. And the next.

    Beautiful, beautiful post. Reveals a lot about the heart from which it came.
    Keith Jennings´s last blog post ..How to hope with a twist

  37. My favorite line of this post: “By a twist of fate (and great parenting) I was able to grow up in the desolate poverty.” Poverty sometimes brings out the best in families.

    Fantastic post!
    Chris Jeub´s last blog post ..Creative Confidence vs Consumer Confidence

  38. I absolutely love this. I have been shifting my life perspective around this. It’s not as much as the power of positive thinking as being fully present in every moment. I wrote a very similar blog post recently called Best. Life. Ever. If you’re interested: http://www.tonyjalicea.com/2010/10/best-life-ever/
    Tony Alicea´s last blog post ..iPhone It In

    • @Tony Alicea, Tony, Your post is awesome and eerily similar to mine. However, I LOVE that you bring out the essence of the “best” by saying “It’s not as much as the power of positive thinking as being fully present in every moment.”

      Thanks for the link to your post.

      Glad you found me so that I can read you!

      Randy

  39. ““Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”

    That’s a fantastic quote, Randy. Thank you for sharing it with us!
    Jason´s last blog post ..The perspective of no future

  40. This made me laugh! You are amazing. I’ve never met you but you always make me smile. I love the attitude. Every day of our life is a gift from God, let’s celebrate life. Like in the Bible : choose life, choose blessing. Let’s enjoy it.

    I know I’ve been absent but I started a new job in September and now I replace a colleague for 6 months and it’s taking a lot of time and I’m on the road a lot. That and my social life forced me to prioritize my life and internet is the least important in my life. It’s time consuming. Has nothing to do with you and others on internet but the time I spent on internet. But it’s a great job, loving it, reorganizing the office, being creative, making new plans, my colleagues are fun to work with. I love to go to my work because of the challenges every day and fun with my colleagues.

    Have a great week. Bye bye.

  41. the more i discover of your story and the more i know of you, the more in awe i become at the unmistakable redemption of God. you’ve already done/become/influenced so much, and yet i know it’s only the beginning. and i can’t help but smile.

    i’m so grateful for you and chris in my life.

  42. Sorry I’m late to the party…been kinda holed up grieving my little brother’s death. David’s funeral was the first time my hubs had ever been to my Appalachia and my girls hadn’t been there in nearly 12 yrs. After the funeral, I wanted to show them the bridge where I chose the name of our oldest daughter, Carolina Dawn. After driving down the winding road for about 30 mins, my Carolina herself began to complain of her tummy hurting from all the turning!!!
    We finally made it out to my family’s land just as it was getting dark so didn’t stay long. My girls got to see how their Mom is so hick…..my Mom actually grew up another 10 mi out from where we were! (we moved to the Dallas, TX area when I was 12!)
    It was a unique and expressly sad time to share my mountains, especially Shoop mtn, with my hubs of over 20 yrs, knowing that one of the sweetest and dearest men in my life is now buried over in a valley off of Cowee.
    Thank you for sharing…today is the first morn since Oct 14 that my hubs has mentioned that I’m chipper again! It is nice to feel like me but I know the full grieving process is not over, just getting better! (sorry I wrote a small book!)
    bluegoose´s last blog post ..Memories- Comfort and hopefully a Smile

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