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Ralph Bruksos' Blog


Not because they are better than those who are inclined toward being “a taker” but they share that the act of kindness on their part, produces a sense of well being.

Encounters are often one of three things, pleasant, neutral or unpleasant. I try to make my half pleasant every time.

Some work at making it unpleasant, at best.

When demolition of a main north and south viaduct was planned, the media assured long delays would happen, tempers would flare, accidents increase, none of which occurred, during my twice daily commute.

Daily, I would see motorists create openings for other drivers to merge, and it has seemed that drivers acknowledged the kindness with a wave, in most cases. It has worked well, smoothly with daily gestures of kindness.

I was waiting for the elevator after my morning workout when another man joined me. Pleasant, smiling, I asked him what he does when not working out, he said he had a full-time job, but also was on the board of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center on a volunteer committee at the University of Washington and other committees as a volunteer.

Another man, with a locker next to mine, pleasant in every encounter, went missing two weeks this summer, he explained he had been away on vacation to camp with his son as the scoutmaster.

Another is serving as the volunteer president of the Regional Heart Association.

All of these men never complain about the weather, the traffic, or local sports teams when they lose or anything else.

There is a certain joy in helping others that people have found and it is there for all of us to enjoy.

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I was running the New York City Marathon.

In that marathon, you run through the five boroughs starting in Staten Island, across the bridge into Brooklyn, then Queens, Manhattan, and into the Bronx and finally back into the finish line in Manhattan.

By the time I reached Queens, it was a clear morning and the beautiful children were out with candy served on paper plates.

This was the fifth time I had run it, so I knew what to expect.

When I reached Queens, I was somewhere near half finished. But, I hurt; my neck, my back and especially my legs hurt; but mostly my mind hurt. I hurt worse than at any time in 54 marathons.

I always carried $4-5 rolled up in a tiny pocket in my shorts for a drink, or candy bar, or in an emergency, the subway.

In Queens the subway ran under the street I was running on. How easy it would be to quit and catch the subway to where I was staying near Central Park.

As someone said, “Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever.”

I knew, in order to quit, I must get my story straight. “I was too cold”, “too much rain” or “my boss was terrible”, “they weren’t paying me enough”, “she didn’t like my mother”, “she wouldn’t let me hunt and fish after we got married”, etc.

I couldn’t “get my story straight”. I needed a story to tell myself if I quit.

I couldn’t think of “a story” that would make it ok in the eyes of our children and grandchildren. The truth was, they wouldn’t think less of me, and they would continue to love me.

I slowed more, but, I couldn’t make it “ok to quit”.

I had the “reason why” in my mind. “I didn’t want to let our children, et al, down”.

I kept slogging and the pain and exhaustion left me and I finished.

Had I made it ok to quit, I would have:

The lesson for me, never make it ok to get my story straight so I can quit anything because it is hard and I am experiencing discomfort, if, I have…another step in me.

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I used to run with the CEO of Weyerhaeuser, Asia, and being a very bright running mate, he left some memorable lines over the miles.

He, when talking about old friends, in fun, mentioned that they would be angry most mornings.

He would, in defending their attitude say, “They wake up, spring loaded, in the angry position.”

Lack of sleep, a problem on one’s mind, someone who successfully provoked an issue, wake up “spring loaded.”

We agreed, over the miles, that mental attitude was completely an inside job, totally up to the individual.

I could start the day with a heart full of gratitude and a smile, or be “spring loaded.”

I get to my locker where I work out early in the morning and I sit and write the five things I am grateful for, that morning, on one side; after I write the 5 things, I draw two lines and write, “And today, I will be non-judgmental.” There are thousands of cards on a shelf, in my office.

We agreed, we could start the day any way we wanted.

I found it impossible to be angry, self absorbed or “snarky” when focusing on gratitude and when I am not judging the other person.

All of life is written on the “backside of my eyeballs.” It’s my choice and it’s my choice to be grateful, not angry that day.

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