That sounds like fun

That sounds like fun. Let’s do it!

A couple of years ago a friend of ours found herself in a tough place. As she tried to put her life back together we talked about what she was doing to ease the transition. People tried to get her involved in activities, partly to get her mind off the difficulties, and partly because she was fun to be around. In a change from the past, she now responded “That sounds like fun! Yes, let’s do it.”

We loved her new way of doing things, partly because it meant we got to do more fun things with our friend. I’ve since realized that the change she made taught me an important life lesson. Unconsciously I’ve been following a similar strategy for years. Recently saying “Yes!” to new opportunities has become more intentional and frequent.

Three episodes come to the front of the line as I think about saying “Yes!” In college, one of my buddies in the next room in Sevrinson Hall asked me if I’d like to take his cousin to the prom, because she needed a date. It would have been easy to say no. What kind of loser decides she needs a date to prom, a week before the big event? There were plenty of parties with my other college buddies that could fill up the weekend. I should have studied for finals. But what the hell? I took the bait, and ended up marrying Judy the next year.

Fifteen years later my friend Jim called and offered to sell his 1953 Cadillac to us. The car was 35 years old, almost as old as us. We didn’t think we needed yet another hobby, as we were fully involved in projects, working, two young kids, and an old house to keep up. We sat on the porch swing and talked about what to do. The whole conversation was something like this:

Guy: “Jim would like us to buy his Cadillac. It’s a lot of money.”

Judy: “When can we go get the car?”

That discussion started a wonderful series of experiences that I wouldn’t have missed for anything. Lon and I rebuilt the engine and transmission. Mara brought friends to car shows at nearby small town festivals. We made dozens of good friends, and best of all, the fun lasted over twenty years! Had we not said “Yes!” at the right moment we’d have missed all that joy.

Judy and I have done day care for three of our grand children the last couple of years. In the spring of 2016 I got into the habit of taking the youngest, then eighteen months old, for a walk in the neighborhood while Judy took the older kids to school. The house on the corner was full of Arab-looking men who appeared to love babies, but they didn’t speak English beyond “Hello.” The baby and I would greet them all and continue our walk to Cascade Creek in the park across the bridge.

One evening I was sitting on the porch with the newspaper and an adult, single malt beverage. I was relaxed and happy with whatever had happened that day. Judy was off on a mission to the grocery store and I was enjoying a quiet moment alone. That’s when this young man rode up on his bicycle and said hello. I recognized him as the youngest one of the Arab neighbors.

“Can you teach me English?”

My immediate reaction was to recoil. I’m an introvert. Every mention of Arabs or Muslims on the telly tends towards the horrible. I don’t like to teach. How could this ever turn out good? My guts said “NO!”

“Sure, how about you come over tomorrow at eleven?”

“OK.”

Actually, the conversation took a long time. The words “tomorrow,” “eleven,” and the meaning of “come over” were not familiar to my new friend Mohammed.

This experience of saying “That sounds like fun, yes, let’s do it!” in this case turned out to be fun, educational, and moving. Mohammed and his brothers were in Rochester with their father who was taking chemotherapy treatments at Mayo Clinic. They treated us like family, inviting us to join the evening breaking of fast at sundown during Ramadan, giving gifts, and welcoming us to Arabic Coffee with their friends.

I’m still not a very good teacher, can’t speak a complete sentence in Arabic, and the television news remains bad. On the other hand, it’s been a wonderful experience. The kids loved meeting and talking to Mohammed. We brought friends with us to Iftar at Mohammed’s house. We personally know about some of the Arab culture and love it. They are a loving and kind people. Just like people. Nothing like what we hear from the fear monger shows on television.

Those are just a few examples of how taking advantage of serendipity has changed my life for the better. There are so many more. Fishing in Canada. That job I didn’t really want. Saying yes opens up so many possibilities.

Maybe my hindsight is clouded? Rose colored glasses? Selective memory? I don’t think so.

Call me for coffee next week, there are more stories to share. I’ll buy the coffee.

Grandpa Guy Havelick