The Day The Phone Rang Out

The phone was ringing in his dorm room, and we all knew he liked talking on the phone. It was probably his girlfriend (he talked to her the most), but there was no way of knowing for sure. I expected him to excuse himself from our conversation, but he didn’t. He didn’t even flinch or glance away. He just sat there in the hallway, eyes focused on me, waiting to hear the rest of what I was saying. 

I don’t remember what I was saying. I don’t remember what he said, either. All I remember is the moment he ignored the phone for the sake of our conversation. That moment is permanently etched on my mind. 

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Why The Book Is Better Than The Movie

I couldn’t wait to get into the cinema the day the first Lord of the Rings came out. To see a story I had loved for so long on the big screen was a treat, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Tolkien’s storyline was preserved, and the special effects were brilliant. Still, when the film was over, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something had been lost, that some magic had been tainted in the transition from the page to the screen. And I know I’m not alone. There’s a reason that the phrase “the book was better than the movie” is almost proverbial. But why? Books don’t have a budget of millions to draw on. They don’t have high definition video, experienced actors, expensive special effects, and Dolby digital surround sound, either. So how is it that all of these advantages can be consistently bested by simple words on a page?

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Why Lynyrd Skynyrd Should Have Tried Bird Watching

One of the greatest symbols of freedom in the world is a bird on the wing. He has no restraints, he owns the sky – not even gravity can keep him down. The bird can go where he wishes, when he wishes, and no one can stop him. He has a freedom of movement far beyond our own, and it’s little wonder that his wings have become a symbol of unrestricted liberty. All of which inspired Lynyrd Skynyrd to sing that he was “free like a bird” when he left the girl who loved him, because he “must be travelling on now”. Sorry girl, but “this bird you cannot change”. 

Which makes me think that Lynyrd Skynyrd was no bird watcher. If he had been, he might have done things differently.

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Some Dreams Need To Die

I know. It doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it? “Follow your dreams” sounds a lot better. It’s the message of Disney princesses and rock stars and pretty much everyone else. And a lot of times the princesses are right. A lot of times we really do need encouragement to keep going towards a goal. It’s good advice.

Except when it isn’t.

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On Being An Immigrant

Growing up in Alabama, I knew the rules: I knew when to say “yes, ma’am” and how to order a Sprite by asking for a Coke and waiting for the server to say “What kind?” I knew what was expected of me, and I knew what to expect from others. I knew how to say things so that people would listen, and when I needed opportunities, I was confident that doors would open and people would give me trust. And I was right. Even when I made mistakes, the trust remained and I knew I would have the help I needed to get back up and try again. Alabama was good to me, and I learned to expect it. I didn’t even think about it.

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Autumn

When my days here on Earth have come to an end
I want to go out like an Autumn leaf

Not like a flower, that gradually drops
Not like a tree, that inwardly rots

I want to go brighter than ever
As weakness takes hold, let glory shine through

And when strength finally fails, and falls to the ground
Let it fall on the promise of Spring

Do Great Minds Really Think Alike?

I’ve said it many times, as an automatic reflex. Just like “bless you” after a sneeze or “you’re welcome” after a “thank you”, the phrase “great minds think alike” rolls off the tongue naturally whenever two people have a similar idea. It’s a friendly way of complimenting others and ourselves simultaneously, a verbal pat on the back for being mutually great. It’s a bit of fun. But that doesn’t make it true.

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The Importance Of Doing What Anyone Could Do

A good friend of mine got an award in recognition of his work with a charity that teaches job skills to men in Birmingham, Alabama. He has been their scissors, cutting them through all the red tape required to actually be able to support people. As a lawyer, he has the skill set needed for the job. As a Christian, he has a driving motivation to give himself for the sake of others, just as God has given to him. Still, he was modest:

“A lot of people could have done it.”

Which is true, I’m sure. The thing is, they didn’t. The charity didn’t need people who could do the job. They needed someone who would do it. My friend was (and is) that person, and I say the world needs a lot more like him. And it doesn’t always have to be complicated or specialised. Often the most helpful acts of support and kindness are also some of the most mundane – the kinds of things almost anyone could do. 

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