Friday, August 27, 2010


I have been watching the Little League World Series. I have seen some amazing baseball. It is truly hard to imagine that these are twelve and thirteen year old youngsters. They emulate their heroes and their champions. They adopt the mannerisms of the great stars of the game. Every now and then, though, their youthfulness comes out. They revert to their true age and play like twelve and thirteen year old kids. When that happens one sees some serious errors. I have watched batting mistakes, base running errors, and blown calls by the umpires. But I have also witnessed some of the most entertaining baseball I have ever seen. I’m torn as I watch though. On the one hand I enjoy watching the little kids play their hearts out and on the other hand it breaks my heart when I see one of them make a mistake that costs them a game. It invariably leads some of them to tears. Such is life and such is Little League baseball. Whoever said that there is no crying in baseball surely didn’t mean to include Little League.

There are some folks who would like to prevent the disappointment of mistakes and errors. There are some who would never allow the little ones to even keep score. They also would prefer that no grades be allowed on report cards. They seem to feel that a lower grade as well as a losing baseball game would be just too much for their little ones to take. They want to protect children from the disappointment of failure. Well I have some bad news for them. Failures happen. Mistakes happen. Errors happen. To prevent kids from having those experiences is to prevent them from lessons which they must learn. In life there is the ecstasy of victory but it could only be appreciated if one has experienced failure. To deny anyone the opportunity to fail also denies them the opportunity to succeed.

It was Richard Nixon who said, as he was leaving the Presidency humiliated by scandals and lies, “Only if you have been in the deepest valley, can you know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.” Life is about mountains and valleys. Life is about success and failures. I believe that the agony of failure and disappointment are great teachers. Probably better teachers than success and ecstasy.

To make a Little League team, you must be better than others who would like to be on that team. That means, of course, that some who try out will not be picked. Such is also life. Most of you who will read this have had such experiences. Did you survive it? Was your psyche damaged forever? I remember clearly not being picked. I had to deal with it and deal with it I did as I am sure you did. As I look back on those years, I believe I was better served for having had the experience of trying and failing as well as succeeding. During my working years there were many times when those lessons saw me through difficult times.

Whether you are a baseball fan or not I think you will also find the Little League World Series entertaining. It occurs to me as I watch that our future is in some very good hands. These youngsters experiencing the ups and downs of a baseball game are learning the great lessons of life. I wish they all could win, but alas that just can’t be. I just wish they wouldn’t cry.

Ron Scarbro August 28, 2010

Friday, August 13, 2010


Last week my father died. While it was an end of an era, it was not necessarily a sad time for me. Pop was ninety-two and had lived a good life mostly on his own terms. He and my mother were together over sixty years and are now together again, so no, this is not sad for me.

For the past several years of his life he was confined to a wheelchair and most recently had to be fed and bathed as well as taken care of completely by nurses and aids. Alzheimer’s and dementia had robbed his mind of cognizance. The wear and tear of ninety plus years had stolen away his mobility. He spent his days in a far away place in his mind seemingly unaware of his surroundings, so no, this was not a sad occasion for me.

Just last spring I was able to see him for what turned out to be the last time. He was smiling as he always seemed to be. I believe he was happy. Living what appeared to me to be a terrible existence, he nonetheless seemed to be happy. May he now rest in peace.

My visits with him have caused me to re-examine the quality versus quantity of life issue. I believe our lives are determined less by our choices than by predetermined choices made for us. Some of you may have your own interpretation of this theology but that is mine. The questions I now have have to do with how we choose to live our lives. Recently I saw a cartoon where a person was turning down a hot fudge sundae in order to gain what she believed was an additional two weeks of life. It turns out that those two weeks would be spent in a nursing home hooked up to tubes and totally devoid of any dignity or quality of life. Given that choice wouldn’t you decide to just eat the sundae? I know I would.

It seems to me that the medical profession is in a constant struggle to extend our lives for the sake of quantity without much regard for quality. Bless their hearts. I am pleased that they are that concerned, but, sometimes it seems to me that the number of years we live lose some of their significance when compared to how we live those years. Now I am not advocating irresponsibility. I am not suggesting that one should just throw off all reason and common sense when it comes to how we live. What I am saying though is perhaps we worry too much about things which we probably don’t have any control over anyhow. Perhaps it would be better for us to just eat that hot fudge sundae instead of sacrificing our desires for what could turn out to be an extra two weeks hooked up and waiting to die.

Here then is a brief exercise. Using the phrase, “If I had my life to live over, I would...”. You fill in the blanks. Are you where you want to be? Are you the person you want to be or are you living your life for somebody else? Our lives are a journey not a destination. Death is the destination. If your life ended today would it have been the life you had wanted?

We all know, of course, that there are no guarantees. Today I am not sad at the loss of my father. I am instead happy, happy for the final lesson he taught me with his last days. I hope you will find his lesson has value for you as well.

Ron Scarbro August 13, 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010


Today there are lots of things I could write about. A couple of long-term Congresspeople are facing ethics violations which could result in criminal prosecution. Illegal aliens are marching in the streets demanding rights granted to American citizens. Our economy is struggling to grow. Our elected politicians are enriching themselves feeding at the public trough. Oh, there are a lot of things I could write about today, but instead I am going to shift gears.

Like most of you I receive forwards on my e-mail. Many are political, some are funny, some are racy, but some are down right inspirational. I received just such a forward this week. It was sent to me by my daughter, Heather. The message was about dancing.

Now if any of you have ever had the misfortune of seeing me dance, I apologize right now. I just never mastered it. But the message of the forward was not about the fine art of ballroom dancing or any of the moves and steps that require talent. No this was about how we should deal with everyday situations and problems. Too often we put off using the good china. Too often we leave the good shirt hanging in the closet waiting for the right time to wear it. All too often we are guilty of putting off life until one day we wake up and it is too late. Somebody once said that life is something that happens while we are making plans for something else.

Some time ago Lee Ann Womak recorded a song entitled. “I Hope You Dance”. The chorus has these lines:

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance.

My message today is I hope you dance. Have you ever stared into the mirror worrying that you hair just isn’t looking right? Your clothes don’t fit right. You struggle with it but nothing seems to work. Guess what? You are probably the only person on earth who believes your hair or your clothes aren’t right. Everybody else is dealing with their own problems and how your hair looks isn’t one of them. Some of us spend our lives building bridges that we never have to cross. We worry about issues that never become the problems we thought they would. We should instead be dancing.

Every culture of mankind since our beginning on this earth has danced. Early man danced to try to deal with things he couldn’t understand. Other cultures danced to overcome fears of pending battle (war dance??). Many cultures danced to celebrate the harvest, or a birth, or the change in seasons. Most just danced because they were happy.

Today I fear we don’t dance enough. We see the problems of the world and we are often overcome. How could somebody dance in the face of such difficult issues? The reality is that dancing just might be the best remedy to many of the problems we see in the world.

Another verse of Lee Ann’s song is:

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat, but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leaves you empty handed
If you get a choice to sit it out or dance,
I hope you dance.

To me to dance is a metaphor to live. Today I challenge you to live. Quit putting off the things you want until someday. Let someday be today. And if you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance. I hope you dance.

Ron Scarbro July 30. 2010