Friday, December 6, 2013

The Eye Of The Beholder

Nuggets For The Noggin
Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder!
By Jim "Gymbeaux" Brown, December 8, 2013

In the late 80's I was called by a Home Savings and Loan, if you remember those, to list a home for them that had been foreclosed on.  The addressed indicated that it may have been a condominium situated on Lake Pontchatrain in Slidell, Louisiana.  That was both good news and bad news.  The good news was that it was on the water, the bad news was that it was a condominium.  Condominiums at that time were very difficult to sell because the mortgage companies were under such heavy restrictions regarding funding loans on condos. 

As I drove to the property I turned on the road named Rat's Nest Road, how's that for a start?  On one side of the road where homes, townhomes and condos all situated on a deep water canal that lead out to the lake.  On the other side of the road where mostly what can best be described as "camps".  Some on land but most on pilings out over the lake.  Some camps were simply that, camps while others were very nice homes but still on pilings out over the water.

As I pulled up to the address given, I noticed that this was a 4-plex structure and incorrectly assumed it to be a condo.  It was not a condo but rather a townhome so my enthusiasm was given a good positive jolt.  Three stories with a garage on the ground floor and two floors of living area above.  But the closer I got the more I could see that this home was not in the best of conditions.  The key let me into the garage where you could not help but notice that a very large square was cut out of the ceiling sheet rock and that there was trash in the garage everywhere you looked including the stairs leading to the living area above.

Once inside the living area I discovered why the hole had been cut.  The appliances in the home had been stolen and they were lowered down through the hole into a truck apparently parked in the garage where no one could see what the thieves were doing.  The home apparently had been used by teenagers and the homeless as a place to party and/or live unnoticed; it was completely trashed.  Anything of value had been taken or so I thought.

I called the Home Savings and Loan representative to give them a report and asked what he wanted me to do about cleaning up the home.  He said to arrange for a company to clean the home and bill the company and that if there was anything I wanted to keep to do so.  Upon first glance there was nothing left in the home that appeared to have any value to anyone.  Rotten food stuffs, old stained mattresses, broken cups and plates, empty alcohol bottles, beer cans - everywhere you looked.

In one room there was a window screen that seemed to still be in tact so I moved some of the trash to get to it.  When I did I saw an overturned 8x10 picture frame.  When I picked it up it was an autographed black& white photo of Ricky Jackson, All-Pro Linebacker for the New Orleans Saints.  This was not his home, just a photo.  And then I found a real gem - a book.  From when I first saw it I could see that this was no ordinary book.  It was clad in vinyl with a spiral ring along the top and a vinyl clasp along the bottom.  It was designed to sit standing up on your desk where you could easily read one page at a time and then simply turn the page over to the back.  I also noticed that the pages were printed back-to-back but the numbering was completely off.  Then I realized that as you "flipped" the pages over, you simply turned the book around and continued reading - thus the pages remained in order.

The name of the book is "Making the I COMPANY More Profitable" by A. Lou Vickery.  The first page indicated it had been "Written and Edited" by A. Lou Vickery.  Copyright 1979 by MOTO, INC. (no longer in business).  It also indicated it had been printed in the United States of America by Aydale Litho, INC of Decatur, Georgia (no longer in business).  Below all of this was a handwritten note,

To Al (unreadable last name),
With my highest regards and many thanks.
Toni (and what appears to be "Buford")

I have literally spent years looking for A. Lou Vickery, Aydale Litho, Motto, Inc., and anyone who might know of either one, all to no avail.  Why would I do so?  Never thought you would ask.  The book has become one of my most prized possessions.  It contains so much wisdom that it is beyond description.  Quotes, poems, essays, articles, graphics - wisdom!  I wanted to purchase more copies because this book would not last long.  The pages had already become yellowed, some were beginning to tear along the spiral binding and some had become completely dislodged but all the pages were present.  I wanted my children to have a copy; I considered its contents that valuable.  155 pages of the guidance on how to become the best person you could become that I have ever seen in one location.

On the Second Page was the following simple quote:

If I wanted to become a tramp, I would seek information and advice from the most successful tramp I could find.  If I wanted to become a failure, I would seek advice from men who have never succeeded.  If I wanted to succeed in all things, I would look around for those who are succeeding and do as they have done.
...Joseph Marshall Wade.

The book is literally about making the "I Company", that being you the reader, more profitable.  Page after page of really great educational and inspirational wisdom.  I felt its contents were so valuable and given that I could not find one book store, person or reference who could tell me how to contact the author to obtain more copies that I started to reproduce the book on my computer one page at a time.  I knew that it had a copyright; it was never my intention to reproduce it to sell but only to be able to make 4 copies to give a copy to each of my four children.  It was a timely process because most of the pages contained graphics and I wanted to give justice to the original by making it as realistic to the original as possible. 

So why am I telling you the reader all of this.  Because beauty, not to mention value, is truly "in the eye of the beholder."  The contents of this book will be forever available either in the book or elsewhere long after the value and/or benefit of the items stolen from the home have since disappeared.  In fact Hurricane Katina has even taken the home and left only a vacant lot in its place.  The contents of the book however, far more valuable at least to me, was and continues to be far more valuable than any of these other things.

If only the burglars and others that occupied the home as they destroyed it had read what appears on page 21, which follows and I can only assume written by A. Lou Vickery (most of the other material in the book gave credit as to who wrote it but the following did not), I would believe their lives would have turned out drastically different.

Every day we meet life situations which challenge us to decide what is right or wrong, good or bad, just or unjust and even where we are going in life and why.  Some of these situation are unique; many are a matter of routine; others are of extreme importance.  And behind almost everything we do, every choice we make, every choice of action we take (or not) in these situations, is our system of values.

Values are "preferences based on the feelings were have about what is desirable".  If we choose our own values wisely and discriminantly, we project ourselves into life situations with conviction of right and purpose.  But when our values are chosen, on the basis of what others feel is desirable and good, we experience difficulty in acting in accordance with the best that's within us.

Many of us know what it is to join the crowd and turn to indulgence, to diversions, or to the popular fads of the day, to satisfy the restlessness and hunger for meaning and direction.  While some of us find these way satisfying in varying degrees, most of us find the temporary and the momentary pleasure we experience from them creates a great deal of problems for us in the long run, because they did not spring from our best self.

It is not sufficient to know we have a system of values.  To live vitally we must know what it is we value.  And this is often difficult in a society which makes confusing and conflicting demands upon us.  Too many times we make important choices not on the basis of our own feelings, but rather on the basis of what a group or another believes is right for us.

When we let others decide what we should value in life we give them veto power over our lives.  If our worth as a human being is to be measured by how closely we conform to the wishes of others, then we become worthless to ourselves.  Our greatest strength then becomes our biggest weakness.  We no longer act on our own free will.

Values are personal .  The choice of what gives meaning and direction to our lives is ours and ours alone.  And when we are willing to go within to find out what we truly value, our actions will be consistent with the best that is within us.



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