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The Price of Character

integrityJust how much does character cost?  Can it be purchased as a package deal with integrity since the two seem to go together?  Where is the character store, and just exactly where can one purchase some integrity?  Funny questions one might think.  Some would say that you can’t buy character, and even more would say that you can’t buy integrity, but I say they’re wrong.

You can buy poise and beauty.  A woman can spend 50 grand on a boob job a tummy tuck and an ass lift, take the other 10 grand and go to charm school and have the appearance of poise and beauty.  A man can can do the equivalent makeover but the problem with all that is that after all that work is done, those who know you or will get to know you will still see the rotten core inside.  That is of course if the core inside is indeed rotten.

So, where is the character store?  Who do I make the check out to?  I pondered these questions for many years.  When I was younger, it didn’t seem to matter, but I still wondered, and then as maturity started to set in, it became important to me.  I wanted to know.  I had to know.  I wanted to be better than I was.  I wanted to be proud of myself and I realized that I couldn’t be proud of myself until I obtained some character and integrity. Utmost character and integrity.   I first learned what that really meant when I started working for MindSpring.  Charles brewer created a set of core values and beliefs by which his business would run.  We read them at every company meeting and we believed in them.  I adopted them as a way to point my personal life in the right direction and it was a true turning point for me.

I had a best friend back then, who is still my best friend today, and all of the sudden I realized that the answer was right in front of me.  It came natural to him somehow.  Perhaps it was the way he was raised, or perhaps it is just part of his make-up, but he had been the example that I had wanted to follow for a long time, but I had  never realized.  It all comes down to something very, very simple.

In life, many things happen and many opportunities present themselves to you, and when they do, there is a very simple and uncomplicated question you have to ask yourself.  There is always a right thing to do and a wrong thing to do, and that is what that question is.  Should I do the right thing or should I do the wrong thing?

So let’s get back to the price of character.  The price of integrity.  In many cases it’s free.

That chick at the bar.  She’s hot.  She’s drunk.  She’s eying you up like a cougar eyes up a gazelle.  Now she’s sitting next to you and rubbing your leg but wait!  What’s that?  Oh, it’s a wedding ring on her finger and you find out that she’s married and having a fight with her husband, or even worse yet, her husband is your friend.  Sure, you’re single and can pull this off no problem but that is exactly the time you need to ask yourself that question.

Should I do the right thing or should I do the wrong thing?

Many people make the wrong decision, but if you make the right one and walk away, you have just purchased some character.  You now own some integrity.

Selling character and integrity is much easier than buying it.  Say you are buying some smokes at the local quicky mart and you hand the man a ten and he gives you change for a twenty.  You realize it and he doesn’t.

Ask yourself that question.  Should I do the right thing or should I do the wrong thing?

If you do the right thing, it just cost you 10 bucks…..but not really.  It wasn’t your ten bucks to begin with. If you stuff that extra ten in your pocket and walk out guess what. You just sold your character for a measly ten bucks.

I’ve been trying my best to do the right thing since 1996.  I’m doing a great job.  I’ve passed many tests, but it never stops.  It’s kind of like alcoholism.  You relapse one time and you have to start all over.  My latest character test cost me $50.36.

I blew a brake line in my car on the highway.  I made it home.  It was dangerous but i got my car into my driveway.  I tried, but couldn’t fix it myself so I called the local garage and asked them to come and tow the car over and fix it.  While they had it, I asked them to do a bunch of other work that needed done.  Anyway, two weeks later, my car was done and I went to pick it up.  The bill was $505.43 and i wrote  the man a check.

As I’m talking to him, and glancing over my bill, I noticed that he never charged me for the towing.  I’ve been doing this to myself for so long now that I didn’t even give it a second thought and never batted an eye.

“Brownie, you forgot to charge me for the rollback”

He looked at the bill and I could see in his eyes that I had made an instant connection with another man of character.  He is also a man of integrity and would he would have done the same thing.  Who else would do that?  He put it on my next bill, because he knew I’d never stand for accepting it for free.  It was $50.36. That was the price of character that day.

Dreaming Dreams

sailboat-against-a-beautiful-sunsetWhen I was a youngster my grandfather bought my brothers and I each mini bikes. I loved riding that mini bike and for years I dreamed a dream of racing motocross like my older brother did. When I was sixteen years old I bought an old motocross bike and I raced it. I was no where near as good as my big brother was, but I lived that dream and I loved it.

Then while in my teens I dreamed of owning and riding a Harley and living the biker lifestyle, and then I bought my first Harley at age 22 and lived that dream. I rode hard and lived hard for many years on Harleys. I have many memories and many stories, most of which I’ll never tell, but I loved that life and I lived that dream.

I graduated that dream many years later one leg short and one education long, and I dreamed a dream of climbing the corporate ladder and making what I thought was a success of myself. Good lord, I did that too. While I had all the money from that success, I dreamed a dream of going to the Caribbean and seeing the white sand and crystal blue sea. I loved that dream so much that I lived it over a dozen times. That was a beautiful dream. It was an even better reality.

I’ve had other dreams. Dreams of sports cars, and whitewater adrenaline. Dreams of flying ultralight aircraft and dreams of a satisfying music career. I’ve been very fortunate to have realized most or all of my dreams. I am thankful for being so fortunate.

I’m in a lull now. I’m not realizing any of my dreams, but I still have a dream.

I’m in what is probably, or hopefully the October of my life. The puberty of January, February and March is long gone. The freshness and excitement of April May and June have long since passed, but with some ass kickin memories I might add. July August and September were cool and had their high points, but what about now. My leaves are changing. My blood is running a little colder and my time is running out, but I still have a dream.

I’ve realized all of my other dreams. I wonder if I’ll be able to realize my last one.

sea-captainI dream a dream of living aboard a single handed sailing yacht in the Caribbean. Her interior will be of dark mahogany and her fixtures will be bright shiny brass. Her lines will be sleek and nordic, and her beam will be wide and stable. Her captain (me) will be salty and satisfied,and will gaze out to the beautiful blue horizon soaking in every memory I’ve ever had. Every sip of rum will bring back a thought of an old friend and every night will be filled with the comfort of the memory of a lost love. Some day, I will die on that ship with the distinction and integrity that I deserve.

I only hope that if I realize that dream that when I die, the sea sees fit to toss me overboard and my ship makes it’s way through life’s winds to another sailor who is young at heart and has a dream to dream.