“When you feel life has you down, you must know that you are the only choice you have to fix that.” – Flemming Erik Carlson
When I was about five years old, my mother shopped at a little flower and gift shop off the Old Post Road in Connecticut. And she would take me places when she went shopping. And this was a place I liked. It was cool to a five year old like me. It had a fountain and a pond, and flowers and interesting chotchke stuff inside the shop. But to me, the coolest thing was this Indian totem pole. I was fascinated with it. I loved to always go to this shop and see the totem pole by the pond. I could stare at it forever.One day my mother was buying something at the counter from the owner. She leans down to me and whispers, “Ask the man, how much for the totem pole.”
Now I was a very shy kid, and a bit of a loner, and my mother was always trying to break me of that by speaking up, minding my manners, to always say please and thank you. This was scary to me.
But I asked as she kept prodding me.
The man said, “No, I’m sorry it’s not for sale.”
End of discussion for me. I was disappointed after having to build up the courage to talk to this man. A waste of time, I must have been thinking at five years old.
My mother kicked me gently with her foot. I looked up at her.
“Ask him if he’ll take $5 dollars for it.”, she whispered.
Man! She’s going to make me talk to him again? He said it wasn’t for sale. My mom is so pushy, I must have thought.
“Go on.”, she kicked me again.
“Would you take $5 dollars for the totem pole?”, I asked.
“Hmn. Nah. I’m not selling that totem pole. It’s very nice, and means a lot.”, he said.
Crushed twice. What kind of mean and cruel, sadistic mother did I have?
She poked me with her finger.
“Ask if you can have it for $10 dollars, would he sell it?”
Crap. Mom, he said no! Please.
“Ask, Flemming. Wouldn’t you like to have the totem pole?”
I stared silently.
She said, “Go on.”
I reluctantly asked him if he’d take $10 dollars for it.
“Hmn. That’s a really good offer. But it’s really not for sale.”
Done. Okay, mom. We’re done.
The man looked down over the counter at me.
“Like I said, it’s not for sale. But you can have it. It means more to you than me.”, he said.
What did he just say?
“You can have it. I know you really like it.”
“It’s your totem pole, Flemming.”, my mother said.
I was shocked. I was stunned. I was happy.
My mother and I took that little three foot totem pole back to the car.
My mother explained some things to my little five year old brain in that car going back home.
It was something to the effect of this: “Flemming, I don’t want you to be shy. I want you to assert yourself. You will never know what anybody thinks or will say if you don’t ask. And ask politely. The worst thing anybody could ever say is no. And you won’t know, if you don’t ask. Do you understand?”
Yes I do. And I never forgot that lesson my mother gave me.
And to remind myself of that lesson she taught me, I never parted with that little totem pole. I keep it as a reminder.
I would rather be alone, and lonely than to be surrounded by negative or toxic people who bring me down. I just want to be happy, and if I have to isolate myself and live in a bubble to protect myself and remain positive, so be it.
I was just sitting at home minding my own business when a close relative disrupted my peace with an unwarranted text critiquing my career and what I’m doing wrong and what I need to do. I explained I was fine with my decision and happy, and this person continued to go on, and on, till I went off after telling them multiple times I was happy. I ended up telling them they were close minded, judgmental, and toxic. I told them I did not solicit their negative criticism or negative opinion. The last thing I told them was to say something nice. Haven’t heard back.
Don’t let people bring you down and rain on your parade, no matter who they are. Be happy!
An old friend of mine and I had a discussion back when I was in my early twenties. It was about frustration. I was frustrated about something, and thought I could change it. My method was to constantly attack the problem head on.
Then my old friend pointed to a refrigerator that was in the room with us. He said, “Flemming. You see that refrigerator?”
I nodded yes.
He ran up and hugged it saying, “If I run up to this refrigerator, and attack it-“ He hugged the refrigerator harder. “I attack it.” Then he turned to me. “What is it now?”
I stared at him.
“It’s still a refrigerator. It was always a refrigerator, and it always will be a refrigerator.” He smiled, “Got it?”
I understood what he meant. I “got it”. But I never really understood or “got it”, until I applied it when I got many years older. You don’t understand some things till you do them and apply the belief. Sometimes we just don’t realize that we are stubborn, or our mind is set in a programmed way of thinking or belief.
So when I tell you all to stop attacking refrigerators, do you know what I mean? Do you know what my friend meant? Do you really “get it”?
When you stop attacking refrigerators, then maybe you will.
Because they were, are, and always will be refrigerators.
Stop attacking refrigerators.
In times when life doesn’t give me what I want or what I’ve worked for, I try not to whine about it. I go back to the drawing board, so to speak, and re-work things, fix things, and improve, with work even harder. And then if I get it, when I get it, I appreciate it and value it even more. It has my blood and sweat on it. It is mine.
Dream today as if you’ll die tomorrow.
“A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is never on the branch, but on it’s own wings. Always believe in yourself.” – Unkown