Written by Robert Kirwan
following articles were written during 2002 and were published in
The Vision Paper.
your convenience I have provided you with the titles along with the
date of publication. I plan to include a brief
introduction under each title in the near future. The articles appear in the order in
which they are listed, so when you see one that interests you,
simply scroll down until you find it.
you have any comments, please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Is All A Matter Of How You Look At Things (Apr.3)
Can Find Peace In The Strangest Places (Mar.27)
Opportunity Is Just A Matter of Looking At Things Differently (Mar.20)
You An Egg; A Carrot; or A Coffee Bean (Mar.13)
You Know Who Packed Your Parachute? (Mar.6)
Hockey Game In Valley East Is First Step In Removing "Terrorism"
From The Game (Feb.27)
Are Parents Too (Feb.20)
Can Learn A Lot About Life And Love By Watching Lovebirds (Feb.13)
Secret of Success May Be As Close As Your Last Failure (Jan.30)
It's Time To Just Go Fishing Again! (Jan.23)
Are Times When We Only Need To See The Cake (Jan.16)
Every Person You Meet At The Most Important Person In Your Life (Jan.9)
||REFLECTIONS by Robert Kirwan
April 3, 2002
Happiness Is All A Matter Of How You Look
|What makes a person happy?
There are perhaps as many answers to that question as there are
people reading this article.
To discover what makes a person happy, you just have to watch and
listen for a while. For some, it is easy to identify. For others it
seems as if nothing pleases them.
There is a funny story about an optimistic farmer who couldn’t
wait to greet each new day wit a resounding, "Good morning,
God!" He lived near a woman whose morning greeting was more
like, "Good God...morning?"
Where he saw opportunity, she saw problems. Where he was
satisfied, she was discontented.
One bright morning he exclaimed, "Look at the beautiful sky!
Did you see that glorious sunrise?"
"Yeah," she encountered. "It’ll probably get so
hot the crops will scorch!"
During an afternoon shower, he commented, "Isn’t this
wonderful? Mother Nature is giving the corn a drink today!"
"And if it doesn’t stop before too long," came the
sour reply, "we’ll wish we’d taken out flood insurance on
Convinced that he could instill some awe and wonder in her
hardened attitude, he bought a remarkable dog. Not just any mutt,
but the most expensive, highly-trained and gifted dog he could find.
The animal was exquisite! It could perform remarkable and impossible
feats which, the farmer thought, would surely amaze even his
neighbour. So he invited her to watch his dog perform.
"Fetch!" he commanded, as he tossed a stick out into a
lake where it bobbed up and down in the rippling water. The dog
bounded after the stick, walked ON the water, and retrieved it.
"What do you think of that?" he asked, smiling.
"Hmmm," she frowned. "Can’t swim, can he?"
Do you anyone like the lady in the story? Doesn’t it just take
all the fun out of life when you are around people who have such a
negative attitude that they find fault with just about everything
Then you have people like the bus driver from Chicago. He
actually sings while he drives, and not just softly, but loud enough
for everyone on the bus to hear. He sings all day long while he
He was once interviewed on a Chicago television station and said
that he was not actually a bus driver.
"I’m a professional singer," he claimed. "I only
drive the bus to get a captive audience."
His happiness is not driving a bus. His real joy in life is
singing. People actually line up to ride on his bus. They even let
other busses pass by so they can ride with the "singing bus
driver". They love it! For him, his purpose on this earth is to
make other people happy through his singing. The more he sings, the
more he makes people happy. He is living the kind of life he
believes he was meant to live and he is doing so by combining his
purpose in living with his occupation.
We can’t always be happy. There are plenty of times when our
mood may not be the greatest, but isn’t life much more enjoyable
when we manage to shake off our troubles and cares and just savour
everything that is good in our life. When you become the kind of
person who has a positive attitude towards life, you attract friends
and acquaintances. Everyone looks forward to being with you and
talking to you because you help them enjoy their own experiences.
And when you have a positive outlook on life, it seems as if the
people around you develop the same kind of positive attitude. It is
contagious and is far more desirable than being negative.
So when you put this paper down tonight, go forth and show a
positive image to those you meet. Let people see that there is
nothing that can get you down. Go ahead! It’s fun!
Have a good week!
||REFLECTIONS by Robert Kirwan
March 27, 2002
You Can Find Peace In The Strangest Places
one of the things that surprises me the most about writing this weekly
column is that I never seem to run out of topics about which to write.
Since Easter is approaching this weekend, I wanted to come up with
something special, and it looked as if I would have trouble finding just
the right subject matter. Then the other day I came across a little verse
written by John Burroughs entitled, “Too Little Time”. He wrote:
“I still find each
day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want
to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.
The longer I live the more my mind dwells upon the beauty and the wonder
of the world.”
Perhaps that is
exactly what makes life so precious. As you get older and begin to realize
that the days you have used are gone forever, you begin to look more
closely at the world around you and discover the wonder and beauty that
was there all the time. Realizing that your days are numbered and that all
of this could end at any time makes every moment so much more valuable.
Becoming more and more enchanted with the splendours of life makes you
long for more time to enjoy them all. Yet time is beyond our control. This
awareness of our mortality is perhaps the real definition of inner peace.
therefore, is not necessarily being in a state of quiet and solitude, shut
off from the rumble of the rest of the activities of the world. Rather,
being peaceful means being able to notice the true beauty in the middle of
a storm. It means being fully aware of your surroundings and seeing things
that others may not.
Let me demonstrate by
telling you a story about a King who lived long ago.
“The King offered a prize to the artist who
would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The King looked
at all the pictures, but there were only two he really liked and he had to
choose between them.
picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror with peaceful
towering mountains all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy
white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect
picture of peace.
other picture had mountains too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was
an angry sky from which rain fell and in which lightening played. Down the
side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look
peaceful at all. But when the King looked, he saw behind the waterfall a
tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had
built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the
mother bird on her nest... perfect peace.
picture do you think won the prize?
King chose the second picture. "Because," explained the King,
"peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise,
trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things
and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace."
So as you are going
through the rest of the week, preparing to celebrate Easter with your
family and friends, remember this little story. If you find yourself in
the middle of turmoil, either at home or at work, look carefully around
and see if you can find a little spec of peace in the middle of the
turbulence. If you look hard enough, you will discover peace and it will
help you make sense out of the chaos and get through your challenges.
These are not the best
of times in the Greater Sudbury Area. So many of our family and friends
are either without employment or earning much less than they need to make
ends meet. Our food banks are finding it extremely difficult to keep up
with the demand for their services. According to the latest census report,
over 40 people per week are moving out of the city in search of a new life
elsewhere. There is trouble with our health system and our education
system. All levels of government seem to be out of control and lacking
direction. Municipal government is facing huge deficits, implying higher
taxes or service cuts. The Provincial government is facing the same
problem. Crime is everywhere. Senseless brutality headlines just about
every newscast. Our senior citizens are facing a life of poverty as they
outlive their meagre pensions and savings. Our children face a life of
uncertainty with parents who have less and less commitment to long-term
relationships. It is hard to expect to find peace in the midst of all of
Yet, the world in
which we live is a peaceful place. There are moments of peace all around.
Along with unemployment and poverty comes the peace of discovering the
true love of the people around you who care. Volunteers working in the
food banks find peace in their hearts as they help those in need, and the
people who use the food banks discover a peace of belonging in a caring
community. As people return to our community from elsewhere, they find
peace that local residents overlooked and help us become aware of the good
things we have in the Greater Sudbury Area. The community has come
together to help raise funds to improve our health system; parents are
taking more time to work with their children and are finding peace in
sharing the discovery of knowledge with young boys and girls. Crime and
brutality brings out supporting neighbours and heros who step forward in
times of need. Senior citizen organizations are being created to help the
elderly, and more importantly, the elderly are being asked to use their
experience and wisdom to contribute to the community in valuable ways.
Yes, we live in a
stormy world, but there is peace in the middle of the storm. Remember,
only the King could spot the mother bird sitting on her nest behind the
waterfall. Even if the storm continues around us, we will all become more
aware of the beauty and wonder of the world and discover a peaceful
calmness in our heart among this tempest we call life.
Have a very Happy and
||REFLECTIONS by Robert Kirwan
March 20, 2002
Creating Opportunity Is Just A Matter of Looking At Things
of the biggest challenges we have in society today is that there are too
many opportunities just sitting there waiting for people to come along and
snatch up. Now, don’t jump to conclusions. No, I haven’t gone out of
my mind. It’s true!
The problem is that most of us just haven’t learned how to recognize
those opportunities, even when they are right in front of our nose.
On the other hand, a person with imagination and ambition is the one
who comes across a pile of scrap metal and sees a wonderful sculpture
waiting to be uncovered. An ambitious person drives through an older part
of town and sees a plan for a new housing development or a new recreation
centre. An enterprising person is one who sees opportunity in all areas of
life and who is willing to take a risk to seize the opportunity when it
Jim Rohn, an inspirational writer states that, "We can all learn
to be enterprising by simply keeping our eyes open and our mind active. We
have to be skilled enough, confident enough, creative enough and
disciplined enough to jump on opportunities when they present themselves,
regardless of the economy."
Rohn went on to say, "Enterprising people always see the future in
the present. They always find a way to take advantage of a situation and
they aren’t lazy."
One of the points Rohn made with which I am in full agreement is that
enterprising people don’t wait for opportunities to come to them - they
go after opportunities and are brave enough to be creative and take
As I look back on my career as an elementary school teacher, I wonder
how many enterprising young boys and girls I helped destroy in a
"system" which is certainly not conducive to the development of
an enterprising spirit. In order to be enterprising, you must have the
courage to see things differently and go against the crowd. By taking a
different approach you often have to stand alone and you definitely have
to choose activity over inactivity. I think back on all of the
"discipline problems" I encountered among students during my 28
years in the classroom and wonder how many of those boys and girls were
actually merely expressing their enterprising spirit. As teachers we did
everything we could to make them "behave" and "fit in with
the rest of the class".
As I watch my youngest son prepare to graduate with his degree in
Sports Administration from Laurentian University, I am once again reminded
that our school system does a good job of preparing our youth to be good
employees. Everyone wants to know "Where you will be
"working" next year? Have you got a job yet?" No one asks,
"What kind of business are you going to begin? In which type of work
are you going to be self-employed? Where are you going to set up your
Agreeably, there is usually some security in finding a job where an
employer pays you for your work and you put in your time making the
employer a success. However, in order to be a "good employee"
you are often forced to repress your creativity and ambition by following
instructions and doing what you are told. As long as you remember who the
boss is, everything will be fine.
Being enterprising means having enough self-confidence and self-worth
to look for opportunities. You must be willing to set forth on risky
voyages in order to do things which will make a difference in your future
and in the future of people who come into your life.
Opportunity exists in the City of Greater Sudbury, and more importantly
in the communities of Valley East and Capreol. We have talented young
people who are ambitious, enterprising and fearless. It is now up to the
"older generation" to release the chains and allow these people
to seek out the opportunities and make things happen. We must provide them
with support and encouragement while at the same time accepting that they
may do things differently from what we would expect. That doesn’t mean
that they are doing anything wrong. It just means that they see things in
a different light.
My sons have a lot more courage than I did at their age. I don’t
regret my life or the fact that I became a good government employee with a
good pension and was able to retire early. But I do envy the fact that my
sons will see a lot more of the world than I did because they are learning
to go out and seek opportunities as businessmen.
My message for young parents is clear. Allow your children to be
different, to go against the crowd, and to see the sculpture in a pile of
scrap metal. The opportunities are everywhere - just learn how to see
Have a good week!
||REFLECTIONS by Robert Kirwan
March 13, 2002
Are You An Egg; A Carrot; or A Coffee Bean
At one point or
another during your life it will seem as if everything is going wrong. No
matter what you do, your problems will just appear to get worse and worse.
You will get so tired of fighting and struggling you may even think about
giving up. When you encounter such a time, try to remember the story I am
about to share with you. It is about a father who wanted to help his
daughter put things into perspective one day when she complained to him
about how difficult her life had become.
The father, who was a chef, took his daughter into the kitchen. He
filled three pots with water and placed them each on a stove element. Soon
all three pots came to a boil. In one pot he placed carrots. In the other
he placed eggs, and in the last pot he placed ground coffee beans. He let
them sit and boil without saying a word. The daughter sat impatiently,
wondering what he was trying to do. She had approached him with her
problems and all he could do was think about cooking. In a half hour he
walked over to the stove and turned off the elements. He pulled the
carrots out and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed
them in another bowl. Then he ladled the coffee out and placed the liquid
in the third bowl.
He then turned to his daughter and asked, “Darling, what do you
His daughter replied sarcastically, “Carrots, eggs and coffee.”
He brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and
stated that they were soft. He then asked her to take an egg and break it.
After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, he
asked her to sip the coffee. Her face frowned from the strength of the
coffee. When finished, she meekly asked, “Father, what does it mean?”
He explained, “The carrots, the eggs and the coffee all faced the same
adversity. They were all placed in boiling water at 100 degrees Celsius.
However, each one of them acted differently.”
He continued, “The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. But
after going through boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg
was fragile. A thin outer shell protected its liquid centre, but after
going through boiling water, its inside became hardened. The coffee beans
are unique however. After they were in boiling water, it became stronger
“Which are you,” he asked his daughter. “When adversity knocks at
your door, how do you respond?”
“Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean? Are you the carrot that
seems hard, but with the smallest amount of pain, adversity, or heat, you
wilt and become soft with no strength? Are you the egg, which starts off
with a soft heart, a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a
divorce, or a layoff you became hardened and stiff. Your shell looks the
same, but you are bitter with a stiff spirit and heart, internally.”
“Or are you like the coffee bean,” he concluded. “The bean does
not get its peak flavour and robust aroma until it reaches 100 degrees
Celsius. When the water gets the hottest, it just tastes better. When
things are at their worst, you get better. When people talk the most, your
praises increase. When the hour is darkest and trials are their greatest,
your worship elevates to another level.”
The young girl gave her father a hug and a kiss and never again
complained about her problems.
Rest assured that life will throw you curves from time to time. No one
ever gets a free ride in this world. And also be prepared to “hit the
wall” several times in your life when it seems as if you will never
reach a solution to your problems. When faced with seemingly
insurmountable obstacles, remember three things: 1. God would never give
you more adversity than you can handle; 2. Everything will be all right in
the end, so if everything is not all right, it’s not the end; and 3. Be
like a coffee bean - when things are at their worst, you get better.
Have a good week!
||REFLECTIONS by Robert Kirwan
March 6, 2002
Do You Know Who Packed Your Parachute?
Do you ever
spend any time thinking about all of the people who are responsible for
helping you make it through the day? Or are you one of those people who
actually think you have made it on your own? See if the following little
story improves your memory.
Plumb was a United States Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat
missions, his plane was destroyed by a missile and after parachuting to
safety he was captured and spent six years in a communist prison. He
survived the ordeal and went on a lecture tour providing audiences with
insight into the lessons he learned from his experience.
day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at
another table came up and said, “You’re Plumb! You flew jet fighters
in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!”
in the world did you know that?” asked Plumb.
packed your parachute,” the man replied. “I guess it worked!”
gasped in surprise and gratitude as he shook the man’s hand, “It
sure did. If your chute hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.”
couldn’t sleep that night, thinking about the man. He said, “I kept
wondering what he might have looked like in a Navy uniform: a white hat,
a bib in the back, and bell-bottom trousers. I wonder how many times I
might have seen him and not even said Good morning, how are you? or
anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a
thought of how many hours the sailor had spent on a long wooden table in
the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the
silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone
he didn’t know.
that day on, Plumb always asked his audiences, “Who’s packing your
has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day.
Plumb pointed out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plan
was shot down over enemy territory. He needed his physical parachute;
his mental parachute; his emotional parachute; and his spiritual
parachute. He called on all of these supports before reaching safety.
It’s easy to miss what is really important as we go through the daily
challenges of life. We get so caught up in surviving that we forget
about the people who have provided us with the support in order to get
through those challenges. In our hurry to get on with life we may fail
to say hello, please, thank you, congratulate someone else on an
accomplishment, give a compliment or just do something nice for someone
we love. Yet, when you think of it, where would you be if they hadn’t
packed your parachute?
Take a few moments to reflect upon the parachutes you use during the
day. The girl who gives you your morning coffee at the drive through;
the person who ploughs the road so that you can get to work; the
cleaning lady who empties your garbage at night and vacuums your office;
the mechanic who works on your automobile; the police officer who
enforces the speed limit on the highway; the internet provider who makes
sure your email arrives on time; your spouse who is always there to
listen to your problems; your child’s coach who has made the
arrangements for the game or practice so that you could concentrate on
other things; the grocery store which remains open late at night so that
you can get those things you forgot. Think about all of the things you
did today which would have been impossible or much more difficult were
it not for the help or assistance of someone else. Did you thank them
for what they did? Did you show your appreciation? Moreover, did you
pack anyone else’s parachute today? Did you make it easier for someone
else to meet life’s challenges? Remember, as well as using parachutes,
we must also provide parachutes for the people who come into our life.
a good week!
||REFLECTIONS by Robert Kirwan
February 27, 2002
Cancelled Hockey Game In Valley East Is First Step In
Removing "Terrorism" From The Game
sure you mark Monday, February 18, 2002 in your calendar as a very
significant day in the history of hockey. On that day, two teams were
scheduled to play the first game of their playoff round. However, the
game was cancelled - not because of the weather, or some mechanical
failure in the arena, or for any other of the usual reasons. This game
was cancelled because the Referee-In-Chief could not find a qualified
referee who would do the game. It was not because the referees were
already booked in other games. Rather, it was because the referees who
would normally be assigned to the game decided that it wasn’t worth
the risk. And this may just be the beginning of a new trend, which will
emerge as the officials finally make a statement that they are not going
to take any more abuse.
the parents of a player with the visiting team was involved in a serious
altercation with a referee earlier in the year. After a number of
meetings to discuss acceptable solutions to prevent the recurrence of
similar incidents in the future, senior referees decided that their
safety couldn’t be assured and thus made a decision to book themselves
off games involving this particular team.
are concerned with the rampant spread of “Hockey Rage”. The
possibility is very real that some participants are losing so much
control of themselves that physical assault against the person in
authority is inevitable. The referee is the prime target of this rage.
If such an assault were to occur, many of the referees, who are in
excellent shape, are not overly concerned about being able to defend
themselves against the assault, but they are concerned with the fact
that at the end of any altercation charges will likely be laid against
them as well as their attacker. This means large legal bills, which have
to be paid out of their pocket since the NOHA offers little if any
support in these matters. Until the “Hockey Rage” participants are
forced to stay away from the arenas, the senior officials are saying
that it is not worth the $25 pay they get for doing a game if they have
to worry about facing a $1000 legal bill and possible criminal charges
which may affect their career.
happened on Monday, February 18, 2002 in Valley East may well be
repeated in the future unless parents, coaches and players who
continually threaten and abuse officials change their ways.
the present rule structure, a referee may stop a contest if he feels
that the situation in the arena is unsafe. In the future, when you hear
a fan uttering threats of bodily harm to a referee, or if a referee
feels that a fan is so out of control that his physical safety is in
jeopardy, don’t be surprised if the game is stopped immediately. It is
the responsibility of the home team to ensure the safety of all
participants. This means that the home team will be asked to contact the
police and initiate proceedings to charge the fan or have him removed
from the arena.
have been numerous instances this year when a coach or player has been
ejected for uttering threats to the referee. In the past, a coach who
threatened a referee was given a game misconduct and usually had to sit
out another one or two game suspension. However, a coach who threatens
physical harm upon a referee will now be facing much more than a game
misconduct. It is quite possible that when a referee, especially one of
the senior referees who feel a sense of responsibility for the future of
the game and for the protection of his fellow officials, is required to
eject a coach or player for verbal abuse, he may be inclined to pick up
his cell phone and ask a police officer to report to the arena to press
assault charges against the guilty party.
Never mind the suspension. Put the matter into the hands of the
this happening? How has it gotten this far?
visit your local arena and listen to the fans. Watch how the coaches
react when they don’t like a call. See how the players react when
things don’t go their way. Suspensions haven’t worked. Coaches and
players sit out a few games and then come back and commit the same
infractions. They haven’t changed and likely won’t. Minor Hockey
Associations say that their hands are tied and that they have trouble
keeping violent parents out of the rink. The only solution is to bring
the matter to the courts where a condition of dropping an assault charge
is that the person will have to stay out of arenas. If that doesn’t
work, watch for more referees sending in a list of teams for which they
will refuse to work.
Rage” is nothing more than a form of “terrorism” and we all know
how the world view terrorism since September 11. It’s time to
eliminate the terrorists from sport and make room for the people who
still consider hockey a form of recreation.
remember, if it is something you wouldn’t say to a police officer or
to a lawyer, it is likely something you shouldn’t say to a hockey
referee who is doing his best to maintain order on the ice. If coaches,
players and parents don’t watch out, they will soon find themselves
sitting on the bench looking out at an empty sheet of ice in a very,
very silent rink.
And as for baseball,
soccer and other sports - don’t think this can’t happen there as
Have a good week!
||REFLECTIONS by Robert Kirwan
February 20, 2002
Animals Are Parents Too
readers know that I have a special fondness in my heart for dogs, so it
should come as no surprise when I tell you that it’s my firm belief
that you can tell a lot about people just by watching how they treat
animals. Another one of my strong beliefs is that things are not always
what they seem and that angels come in many packages. Let me show you
what I mean.
one Saturday evening, John and his wife Jane were on their way back to
their home town where they planned on spending Mother’s Day with their
parents. They stopped at a local gas station to get coffee and something
to snack on during the final hour and a half of their trip. When they
got back inside their car, they noticed a man standing outside in front
of the building. They assumed from his appearance that he was a homeless
man. His clothes were tattered and worn and it looked like he had gone
in and gotten himself something warm to drink. It was a rather cold
night and it certainly looked as if the man did not have much money for
next thing they saw was a dog walking up to the front of the building.
Being dog lovers, John and Jane noticed that she looked like she was
part wolf and part German Shepherd. They could tell she had been feeding
puppies. She was also terribly in need of something to eat and both John
and Jane felt bad for her, knowing in their mind that if she didn’t
eat soon, she and her puppies would not make it.
and Jane sat there and looked at the dog. They noticed that people
walked by and didn’t even pet her, like most people do when they walk
by an animal in front of a store. The shepherd may not have been as
pretty and clean as most, but she still deserved better. Nevertheless,
John and Jane sat, eating their snacks and did not do anything. However,
someone else did. The homeless man, who himself looked hungry, went back
inside the store. What he did after he came out brought tears to the
eyes of both John and Jane. He had gone into the store, and with what
little money he may have had, bought a can of dog food and fed that dog.
A lot of people that night forgot that animals are God’s creations
too. That dog was a parent, and it took a homeless man to show John and
Jane as well as all of the others who walked by what they should have
is becoming easier and easier for people in general to ignore others who
need our help. We have been taught to distrust stranger and to keep
within the safety of our own little piece of the world. Trouble is that
as human beings, we will likely all have to rely upon the support of
strangers at some time in our life. The homeless man, who himself was
treated like an outcast, identified with the plight of the little dog.
He felt the need to reach out and do what he could to provide the dog
with nourishment so that she could take care of her puppies. Sometimes
we need adversity in our own life in order to realize our
responsibilities to others. If things are going too well, there is a
tendency to put up a defensive wall around our world in order to keep
others out. It’s time to remove those walls and allow humanity to
thrive once again.
I leave you this week, I want you to reflect upon the message in the
following story about six human beings who found themselves in the black
and bitter cold one night. They stood around the fire, each one
clutching to a stick of wood, watching the glowing embers slowly dying.
The first woman held on to her stick. There was no way she would give up
her piece of wood because she noticed that one of the people in the
group was black. The next man refused to put his stick on the fire
because he noticed that one of the people did not belong to his Church.
The third man sat in tattered clothes because he did not want to give up
his stick to warm the rich. The rich man sat back and thought of the
wealth he had accumulated and how he could keep what he had from the
lazy poor people in the group. As the black man watched the fire die
away, he saw holding on to his stick as a way of getting revenge on the
white people. The last man refused to give up his stick until all the
others had given up theirs. When the six people were found dead, many
days later, each of them still clutched to their own stick. It was proof
positive that they didn’t die from the cold outside, but instead, they
died from the cold within.
a good week.
||REFLECTIONS by Robert Kirwan
February 13, 2002
We Can Learn A Lot About Life And Love By Watching
who reads this editorial column week after week is well aware of the
fact that I love using stories and anecdotes to express my feelings. So
when we decided to ask our readers to submit stories about how they met
the “love of their life”, I looked forward to discovering the
“real-life” side of love that has touched the lives of “real
people in our community”. The stories we received were amazing and
truly heart-warming. We hope you enjoy reading the ones we have room to
a very difficult subject about which to write. It affects each of us in
different ways at different times, yet it is a feeling, which is
unmistakable when it comes to us. And scientific studies have shown that
real, sincere love is as vital to human life as food, clothing and
has always loved birds and animals. Besides dozens of bird feeders and
houses outside, she once had over 26 birds in cages throughout the
house, and among those were two lovebirds. So, when I read a little
article on the internet written by a person named Vickie Lynne Agee,
called ‘Life Lessons From Lovebirds’, I could definitely identify
with what she wrote.
said that she and her husband were walking through a mall one day and
stopped to look around the pet store. They came upon a pair of
peach-faced lovebirds, which looked like they were truly “in love”.
Vickie’s thoughts drifted back to the lovebirds during the next
several days and to her surprise, one night after work her husband
returned home clutching an elegant birdcage that housed those two
precious creatures. The birds reminded them of a simpler day when love
and togetherness between couples was not only a commitment, but a way of
and her husband have watched those lovebirds for some time and made the
following observations about life and love, which, I am sure you will
find, apply not only to birds, but to men and women as well.
you spend too much time looking in the mirror, it’s easy to lose
keep a pleasant look on your face, even if your cage needs cleaning.
your mate wants to share your perch with you, move over.
real treats in life usually come only after you’ve cracked a few
takes two to snuggle.
your mate can see mites you didn’t even know you had.
draws more affection than squawking.
is only when your feathers get ruffled that your true colours really
many toys can be distracting.
you have love in your heart, everyone around you will find joy in
stories you will read elsewhere in this issue of The Vision will touch
your heart. They are from real people who experienced real love and are
living their lives with the confidence that comes from knowing that
someone truly loves them in return. We all have our own stories about
love. Some are joyful and some are painful. But we all have to admit
that it is love, which makes it all worthwhile. The kind of love I of
which I am referring was witnessed by the volunteers and doctors at a
large hospital who were looking after a little girl named Liz, who was
suffering from a rare and serious disease. They discovered that her only
chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year
old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had
developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor
explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy
if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. He hesitated
only for a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes, I’ll
do it if it will save her.” As the transfusion progressed, he lay in
the bed next to his sister and smiled as he saw the colour returning to
her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at
the doctor and asked with trembling voice, “Will I start to die right
away?” Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor. He
thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in
order to save her.
5-year old boy didn’t have to read all kinds of books and watch all
kinds of documentaries to understand what true love was. The love he had
for his sister was so great that he was willing to give up his own life
to save hers. This is what true love is all about. When you feel this
way about someone, you know you are in love, and you know you are one of
the richest persons in the world.
you enjoy the stories of love you will read in this issue. I also hope
they remind you once again of your own stories and perhaps rekindle the
flames of love from within.
a good week!
||REFLECTIONS by Robert Kirwan
February 6, 2002
it comes to enjoying life, there is nothing quite like a
positive attitude. However, developing a positive attitude takes
a great deal of work, and a genuine belief that life is good.
The other day I read an email that is floating around in
cyberspace which was simply entitled, “I Believe”. It struck
me as something which should be copied and taped to the fridge
or folded up inside your purse or wallet. Whenever life seems to
be a bit too challenging, take it out and read it.
believe that we don’t have to change friends if we understand that
believe that no matter how good a friend is, they’re going to hurt
you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that.
believe that true friendship continues to grow, even over the
believe that you can do something in an instant that will give you
heartache for life.
believe that it’s taking me a long time to become the person I
want to be.
believe that you should always leave loved ones with loving words.
It may be the last time you see them.
believe that you can keep going long after you think you can’t.
believe that we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we
believe that either you control your attitude or it controls you.
believe that regardless of how hot and steamy a relationship is at
first, the passion fades and there had better be something else to
take its place.
believe that heroes are the people who do what has to be done when
it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.
believe that money is a lousy way of keeping score.
believe that my best friend and I can do anything or nothing and
have the best time.
believe that sometimes the people you expect to kick you when
you’re down, will be the ones to help you get back up.
believe that sometimes when I’m angry I have the right to be
angry, but that doesn’t give me the right to be cruel.
believe that just because someone doesn’t love you the way you
want them to doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they
believe that maturity has more to do with what types of experiences
you’ve had and what you’ve learned from them and less to do with
how many birthdays you’ve celebrated.
believe that it isn’t always enough to be forgiven by others.
Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself.
believe that no matter how bad your heart is broken the world
doesn’t stop for your grief.
believe that our background and circumstances may have influenced
who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.
believe that just because two people argue, it doesn’t mean they
don’t love each other...and just because they don’t argue, it
doesn’t mean they do.
believe that you shouldn’t be so eager to find out a secret. It
could change your life forever.
believe that two people can look at the exact same thing and see
something totally different.
believe that your life can be changed in a matter of hours by people
who don’t even know you.
believe that even when you think you have no more to give, when a
friend cries out to you, you will find the strength to help.
nice thing about a list like this is that each one of us can add several
more lines related to our own experiences. The trick is to take these
words and incorporate them into our philosophy of life. Right now, they
are just words. When faced with one of life’s little challenges, you
must live like you really do believe and before long you too will
develop the kind of positive attitude, which will enable you to live
life to fullest and become the best you can be.
invite my readers to send in some of your own beliefs which could be
added to this list so that we can share them with everyone else. Send
them in by email to email@example.com
or by fax to 969-4490.
a good week!
||REFLECTIONS by Robert Kirwan
January 30, 2002
The Secret of Success May Be As Close As Your Last Failure
see successful people all around us. They are the ones who seem to have
the fanciest cars, biggest houses, great clothes and wonderfully
satisfying jobs. Many of us look at those people and dream of achieving
that level of success, if only we could discover their secret.
once heard the president of a world famous computer company tell someone
that the secret of his success could be summed up in two words, “Right
asked how he made right decisions, he responded, “Experience.”
further by the questioner, the president was asked how he got the
experience to make the right decisions.
that the president quickly answered, “Wrong decisions.”
that the truth?
older I get the more I realize how little I knew when I was young. I
look back on all of the “wrong decisions” I have made in my life and
shake my head knowing that I certainly wouldn’t make the same mistakes
again. It is then that I realize I would not have gained the experience
I now have which allows me to make the right decisions were it not for
the mistakes I have made in the past.
does that mean that the older we get, the more chance we have of making
all the “right decisions”? The answer to that depends on whether or
not you are allowing yourself to take on new challenges and go along
different paths as you enter each wonderful stage of your life.
are times when we long for a safe and secure existence, remaining in
that comfort zone with which we are familiar. It may seem as if we are
in a rut, but it is safe and we know what to expect. It is easy to be
successful in this comfort zone because we don’t take any new risks.
Decisions are easy because everything remains the same.
real living is all about taking risks. It is about experiencing new
things and meeting new people. It is about expanding your circle of
friends and becoming involved. When we are fully live, we grow as
persons. When we stop growing, we it is because we have stopped living.
It is often the fear of failure, which prevents many of us from
experiencing life to the fullest, yet without failure we cannot be
successful. It is quite a dilemma.
help myself get over the fear of failure, I rely on a piece of writing I
came across a long time ago that explained failure in a very positive
manner. Let me share it with you.
does not mean I’m a failure; It just means I have not yet
does not mean I have accomplished nothing; It just means I have
does not mean I have disgraced myself; It just means that I have
dared to try.
does not mean I don’t have it; It just means I have to do
something in a different way.
does not mean I am inferior; It just means I am not perfect.
does not mean I have wasted my life; It just means that I have an
excuse to start over.
does not mean that I should give up; It just means that I should try
does not mean that I will never make it; It just means that I need
is a series of ups and downs. That is what makes life so precious. We
ride the emotional highs when we are successful and we experience the
lows when we fail. But we should take heart in knowing that the secret
of success may actually lie in our failures. Without failures from wrong
decisions, we would lack the experience to make the right decisions
later on in life. If there are some areas of your life right now in
which you feel you are failing in some way, or in which you are not
satisfied, look upon what has happened as a necessary step in achieving
success. Then you will use your time to look for opportunities to use
your new wisdom instead of dwelling on the failures and problems of the
once heard a saying that went like this, “Everything is all right in
the end! If is isn’t all right, then it isn’t the end!” So if
there is something in your life that “isn’t all right yet”, just
remember that “it isn’t the end until it is all right” and that
since “everything is all right in the end” you really do have
something to look forward to.
a good week!
||REFLECTIONS by Robert Kirwan
January 23, 2001
Maybe It's Time To Just Go fishing Again!
other day while I was caught in traffic, my mind began to wander like it
usually does when I am not preoccupied with one of my numerous daily
activities. I thought back to the beginning of my career as a teacher
and recalled how excited I was to finally have an opportunity to
‘teach’ children. I then projected myself to my last couple of years
before retirement and realized that the early excitement I felt in my
first few years had disappeared. For whatever reason, and I have stopped
trying to figure out how my mind works, I thought back to my days as a
youngster growing up in Lively and how my friends and I would play
street hockey for hours on end until our mothers would almost have to
physically drag us into the house for dinner. It wasn’t just hockey,
however. A couple of phone calls was all it took and we would have a
baseball game, a football game, a game of hide-and-seek, soccer, you
name it. And we had fun - no referees - no adults - just a bunch of kids
playing for the “Stanley Cup” or the “World Series”.
don’t notice the excitement in the eyes of young teachers any more. I
certainly know I lost the excitement many years before I actually
retired. I also notice that there doesn’t seem to be many road hockey
games around. You seldom see kids playing at a baseball field unless
there are adults, umpires and fancy uniforms.
reminded me about a story I once heard about a group called “The
Fisherman’s Fellowship”. They were surrounded by streams and lakes
full of hungry fish. They met regularly to discuss the call to fish, and
the thrill of catching fish. They really got excited about fishing!
Something like I felt about teaching
when I first started. Something like a young kid feels about playing
hockey in the beginning.
someone suggested that they needed a philosophy of fishing, so they
carefully defined and redefined fishing, and the purpose of fishing.
They developed fishing strategies and tactics. Then they realized that
they had been going about it backwards. They had approached fishing from
the point of view of the fisherman, and not from the point of view of
the fish. How do fish view the world? How does the fisherman appear to
the fish? What do fish eat, and when? These are all good things to know.
So they began research studies, and attended conferences on fishing.
Some travelled to far away places to study different kinds of fish, with
different habits. Some got PhD’s in fishology. But no one had yet gone
a committee was formed to send out fishermen. As prospective fishing
places outnumbered fishermen, the committee needed to determine
priorities. A priority list of fishing places was posted on bulletin
boards in all of the fellowship halls. But still, no one was fishing. A
survey was launched, to find out why. Most did not answer the survey,
but from those that did, it was discovered that some felt called to
study fish, a few to furnish fishing equipment, and several to go around
encouraging the fisherman.
with meetings, conferences, and seminars, they just simply didn’t have
time to fish.
day, Jake, a newcomer to the Fisherman’s Fellowship was so moved by a
stirring meeting that he went fishing. He tried a few things, got the
hang of it, and caught a nice fish. At the next meeting, he told his
story, and was honoured for his catch. He was then scheduled to speak at
all of the Fellowship chapters and tell how he did it. Now, because of
all the speaking invitations and his election to the Board of Directors
of the Fisherman’s Fellowship, Jake no longer had time to go fishing.
soon, Jake began to feel restless and empty. He longed to feel the tug
on the line once again. So he cut the speaking, resigned from the Board
of Directors and said to a friend, “Let’s go fishing.” And they
did. Just the two of them, and they caught fish.
members of the Fisherman’s Fellowship were many, the fish were
plentiful, but the fishers were few.
I finished the story, the traffic began moving again and the message was
we want to keep the excitement in teachers, maybe we should just let
them teach. Forget about all of the curriculum reviews, certification
courses, professional development programs, provincial testing and just
let them teach!
we children are to have fun playing hockey, baseball, soccer, football
or whatever, we must let them play. Forget about systems, rules, house
leagues, travelling teams, uniforms, training, certification and such.
Maybe what we have to do is just give a bunch of kids some
hockey sticks, a ball, a few chunks for goal posts and then leave
them alone for a few hours.
Next time you feel yourself getting caught in a rut
where something you once enjoyed isn’t fun anymore, think about Jake.
a good week!
||REFLECTIONS by Robert Kirwan
January 16, 2002
There Are Times When We Only Need To See The Cake
going to save my editorial comments until after you have had a chance to
read the following story which I came across the other day. The story,
entitled The Cake, was
written by a man named Joseph Walker. I stumbled onto it at precisely
the right time in my own life, when I almost didn't see "the
cake". Thankfully, the story reminded me that one must never be
blinded to issues of long-term significance by things which may, on the
surface, seem awfully important right now, but are actually really small
in the larger scheme of things. Fortunately, the story helped me see the
cake, and I'm very glad I did. When you finish reading the story, I
think you will see what I mean and perhaps it will help you see the cake
in your own life situations.
Cake, by Joseph Walker:
glanced nervously at the clock on the kitchen wall. Five minutes before
midnight. Her parents were expected to arrive home any minute. She
carefully put the finishing touches on the chocolate cake she was
frosting. It was the first time in her 12 years that she had tried to
make a cake from scratch, and to be honest, it wasn't exactly a culinary
triumph. The cake was lumpy and because she had run out of sugar,
the frosting was bitter.
then there was the way the kitchen looked. Imagine a huge blender filled
with all of the fixings for chocolate cake - including the requisite
bowls, pans and utensils. Now imagine that the blender is turned on -
high speed - with the lid off. Do you get the idea?
Cindy wasn't thinking about the mess. She had created something which
was special to her - a masterpiece of flour and sugar rising out of the
kitchen clutter. She was anxious for her parents to return home from
their date so she could present her anniversary gift to them. She turned
off the kitchen lights and waited excitedly in the darkness for them to
arrive. When at last she saw the flash of the car headlights, she
positioned herself in the kitchen doorway. By the time she heard the key
sliding into the front door, she was on the verge of exploding and
couldn't wait to share her excitement.
parents tried to slip in quietly, but Cindy would have none of that. She
flipped on the lights dramatically and trumpeted: "Ta-daaaaa!"
She gestured grandly toward the kitchen table, where a slightly
off-balance, two-layer chocolate cake awaited their inspection.
her mother's eyes never made it all the way to the table.
look at this mess!" she moaned. "How many times have I talked
to you about cleaning up after yourself?"
Mom, I was only..."
should make you clean this up right now, but I'm too tired to stay up
with you to make sure you get it done right," her mother said
angrily. "So you'll get up early and do it first thing in the
Cindy's father interjected gently, "take a look at the table."
know! It's a mess!" his wife said coldly. "The whole kitchen
is a disaster. I can't stand to look at it." She stormed up the
stairs and into her room, slamming the door shut behind her.
a few moments, Cindy and her father stood silently, neither one knowing
what to say. At last she looked up at him, her eyes moist and red.
"She never saw the cake," she said.
it is true that our children all need to learn to be responsible and
suffer the consequences of their actions, parents must never lose sight
of the fact that even though things like muddy shoes, lost money, dented
fenders, and messy kitchens are frustrating, they are not worth the
sacrifice of a person's dignity and feelings. It is my sincere hope that
my own children have learned from watching my wife and I, that when they
become parents themselves, they must never lose sight of the fact that
there are things in this life that may seem important right now - but at
the end of the day they are not worth damaging a relationship. After
all, what's a little mud, a broken object, lost money or torn clothing
compared to a child's self-esteem. You can clean up the mud, replace the
broken object, live without the money and fix the clothing, but any
damage you do to a relationship or to someone's self-esteem will last
are times in our life when perhaps it is all right to see the mess in
the kitchen. And there are times when we only need to see the cake.
a good week!
||REFLECTIONS by Robert Kirwan
January 9, 2002
Treat Every Person You Meet At The Most Important Person
In Your Life
are going to meet a lot of people during the course of your life. Some
will seem to be more significant in terms of beauty, wealth, influence,
intelligence and social status. Others will seem to be less significant.
However, one thing you should always remember is that regardless of your
own status in society, or the status of others who enter your life,
there is no such thing as an insignificant person and every person you
meet should be treated as the most important person in your life. For,
in fact, each person you encounter is the most important person in your
life during the time you are with that person. And what you actually
say, or what you do in the presence of that person may mean all the
difference in the world to you or to that particular individual. This is
one fact of life you should never forget.
illustrate this lesson, one of my former professors gave us a surprise
test one day. I breezed through the quiz until I came to the last one:
“What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?” At
first I thought this must be some kind of joke. As I looked around I
could see that the entire class was stumped and puzzled.
We had seen this lady many times. She was tall, dark-haired and
in her 50's. But apparently none of us had ever thought of stopping by
to ask what her name was. We all turned in the test with the last
question blank. One of the students then asked the professor if the last
question would count.
replied the professor. “In your life you will meet many people. All
are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you
do is smile and say hello.”
never forgotten that lesson. I’ve also never forgotten her name was
story I came across recently further demonstrated the lesson that you
should always treat people with kindness and respect, regardless of
their age or status. In the “old” days when an ice cream sundae cost
much less than today, a young boy entered a small coffee shop and sat at
a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him. “How much is
an ice cream sundae?” he asked. “Fifty cents,” replied the
waitress. The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied
the coins in it. “Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?”
now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing
impatient. “Thirty-five cents,” she brusquely replied. The little
boy again counted his coins. “I’ll have the plain ice cream,” he
said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and
boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left. When the waitress
came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table. There, placed
neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies. You
see, the little boy couldn’t have the sundae, because he had to have
enough left to leave her a tip. The little boy knew how important it was
to always remember people who serve you, and the waitress learned a very
important lesson about respect.
you should never turn down a request for help from someone in distress.
The small inconvenience to your own plans may mean everything to the
person to whom you reach out. This was demonstrated one night in the
1960's around 11 p.m. when an older African American woman was standing
on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rain storm.
Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet,
she decided to flag down the next car. A young white man stopped to help
her, even though it was generally unheard of for a white person to help
a black person during those conflict-filled times. The man took her to
safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxi cab. She
seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him.
Seven days went by and a knock came on the man’s door. To his
surprise, a giant console TV was delivered to his home. A special note
was attached. It read: “Thank you so much for assisting me on the
highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also
my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it
to my dying husband’s bedside just before he passed away. God bless
you for helping me and unselfishly serving others.” Sincerely, Mrs.
Nat King Cole.
we will all meet many people during our life. Certainly, most of those
encounters will not be turning points in our existence, but you never
know how much a small favour, a gentle smile, remembering a person’s
name or showing genuine respect may impact on another human being.
Always remember that everyone is significant and deserving of your
attention, even if all you do is smile and say hello.
a good week!