Chasing The 1%

Monday July 16th, 2012 – Rockford, IL/Milwaukee, WI

I’m turning into my grandfather more and more by the day, and I can’t decide if that’s positive or negative. On one hand, he had more practical wisdom in the tip of his baby toe nail than most people I ever met have in their whole family tree. His journey through life’s wars produced fruit.

On the other, he could be a super cynic to the point of no return. He saw through everything as being flawed or rigged, and more often than not assumed the worst in people and situations. I’ve grown to share many of his views on topics like religion and politics, and he predicted I would.

“There’s no pie in the sky,” he would say. “The world is 99% rotten to the core, but there’s just enough good in it to make us all wanting to keep living. Everyone has a personal mission to seek out the 1% that’s good and build upon that.” As I get older, his wisdom is becoming my life map.

I don’t think Gramps was very happy throughout most of his life. The only time I ever saw him even close to appearing satisfied was when he was on a stage performing. He loved it, and would do anything to get his fix. Sometimes it was at a senior center wearing a grass skirt and Hawaiian shirt strumming on a ukulele, and other times it was just him in the checkout line at the Kmart.

Wherever there was an audience, Gramps loved to entertain – even if the audience was just me. From my view he was a superstar. That meant I’d get his best shows, and he rarely disappointed. Whatever it took to get a laugh, Gramps would do it. His 1% in life was being in the spotlight as much as possible, but it wasn’t until later in his life that he actually got a chance to focus on it.

He spent most of his adult life trying to survive just like I am, but he had a family to support so his dreams got put on hold. Then, in his retirement he got to chase the dream he wanted to chase all along. He didn’t get far by the standards of others, but he loved every minute of his life then.

I’ve been thinking about Gramps a lot lately, as this is the 100th anniversary of his birth year of 1912. His actual birthday isn’t until November 18th, but I’d sure like to have some kind of tribute book of his wisdom written by then. His lessons were all so powerful they need to be passed on.

I know Gramps felt unfulfilled at the end of his journey, and we had a lot of long conversations about it before he died. Those were some very deep exchanges, and I wish I could see the written transcripts of what we said to each other. I’ll bet there were a lot of pearls I could use right now.

On one hand, I’m finding myself gaining some of the useful wisdom Gramps had. Between his guidance and my own self discoveries from my many miscues, I’ve managed to learn a whole lot about how the world works. On the other hand, his cynicism has also taken root. I look at what’s going on in the world with extreme mistrust and skepticism, and I’m not sure if I like that or not.

Like it or not, that’s where my head is. What can I do to make the most of whatever I have left in my tank? I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, and as my tribute to Gramps I want to keep chasing that 1%. Sometimes his memory and wanting to honor it is all that keeps me in the game.


2 Responses to “Chasing The 1%”

  1. Chrys Lavelette Says:

    Sounds like Gramps gave you 99% gold and…well, the remainder is superfluous. Thanx for sharing this, Dobie.

  2. Carol Lynn Says:

    In memory of Gramps do your book, you have alot of wonderful blogs over the years. I could see a movie,
    Mr Lucky Meets Gramps in Heaven.

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