I live in a cozy attic apartment, the Hobbit House, that can easily fit into the bedroom of a home I recently called my own.
I am currently and temporarily unemployed.
The occasional bat flyby is the only activity – besides snoring and curling up with pillows – that I encounter while the world sleeps.
Except it isn’t…really.
I have good people to regularly share my meals, adventures, and dry sense of humor.
I am so wealthy.
My legacy is – as it stands now – friendship, honesty, quirkiness, bits of the Manhattan/Riley County Sesquicentennial, a few gigs and bits at Sunset Zoo, and most importantly two adults who know that they were/are imperfectly loved.
I have already changed the world.
You’ll find me at the swankiest places: around a table with friends, lingering in the library, traipsing over the Konza prairie, sitting with my new pal, Doris, as we try to beat “Family Feud”; high-fiving the people on the color run, ambulating about town in the wee hours with my pal, or driving with the windows down and the Muppets Christmas Carol soundtrack blaring.
I get around.
Today, I was faced with another blow; the outcome of insecurity (not mine) woven with untruths and a whiff of Machiavellian “win at all costs.”
I was floored.
Okay, not floored, but I ended up sideways on my bed staring out into the tree limbs and sunlight wondering how the hell this could have happened and what is a right response? What response will carry integrity past the humiliation and into the end-zone of a life well lived? When my reputation is at stake.
Typically, these sorts of things inspire me to immediate action; I will do this something so that I can respond and move toward this other new or “now” something-goal.
Today’s revelation included a stunned attempt to “sit with it” and sort it out.
The bull hockey uncovered today will end with a few uncomfortable decisions, a paddling around the lake while my pal does an open-water swim before a race, and a realization that despite what you may see on the outside and another punch in the kisser, I have a good life. It is a good life if you count sincere friendships, positive impact, and a still intact-but-trembling belief that there is a Happily Ever After for most of us.
We will sleep at night knowing that we have done our best and lived truthfully.
We work hard and play some in good company.
We will remember “Life is no fairy tale,” but pampered people just become entitled and weak adults and We Are Not Pampered.
What is Happily Ever After?
I recently had the privilege of driving K to the airport as he headed out for a tactical leadership camp in the woods of Kentucky. Instead of racing home, I headed over to the adventure that is the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City. The featured summer exhibits included “Roads of Arabia”: artifacts, steles, and bits of ancient lives and deaths. After the erosion of thousands of years took a shot at the gold and mud-made treasures, it was hard to know who the once “great” and everyday people were.
Few of the artifacts could be traced with certainty to the stories of their owners and creators. Like high school football players and their chances to make it into the NFL, most people lived, loved, worked, played, and died in anonymity.
I live in Kansas. It is not hard to find an old abandoned home far into the countryside and away from town. Katie and I used to run by several old homesteads on our routes near Simpson Road. Each encounter – each run or drive by a tumbling abandoned house – had me wondering about all of the days of those crumbling homes.
How many babies were born within those walls?
How many old men and women breathed their last there?
What about Christmases or Easters or birthdays or weddings or the everyday ordinary days of waking, working, dinner, a book or radio show; hopefully an embrace before bed, and then sleep?
Who were these people?
What were their stories?
Their lives may be anonymous to me, but there was a time when their stories were known. I hope that they lived happily ever after. I hope that I’ll live Happily Ever After – even now.
Happily Ever After means living a good story.
Happily Ever After is sharing my banana chocolate chip sloppy upside down bread with my friend even after it encountered a “baking malfunction.”
Happily Ever After is my kiddos knowing how they are loved by both parents and then living out their lives with love and responsibility and joy.
Happily Ever After just might mean a stronger hand to hold or… enduring greater grief than in the past, but learning to hope and then inviting others to hope again.
Happily Ever After is not dependent upon my address, sweet Pontiac Vibe, titles, bank accounts, or accolades.
Happily Ever After is what I will continue to live out – perhaps as my imperfect North Star – as a legacy of living and serving and laughing and loving and goofing up and giggling and weeping and starting over again and sledding on the hill and into the trees nearby… and in such good company.
Join me on this Search for the North Star; we just may live a better story together.