A Whole Lot of Bobs
You can learn a lot from a Bob. There are more Bobs out there than we might think. Some of your Bobs might have the name of Jill, John, or Susan. What follows is a small list of the Bobs in my life that I remember and that have affected me in ways that even I may never know.
The original Bob was the original Bob Brewer. I remember him as being nice in a way that only five year-old children are able to tell that someone is nice. A man that put a kid at ease, wanted you to have fun, and seemed, from what I recall, to love his family very much. He lived up the street from me and his children were my friends. Perhaps I recall correctly or perhaps I do not, but I can still see in my mind, the decal he had on the back of his truck which was designed for Pabst Blue Ribbon. Bob shaped my early childhood in a very positive way. When I think of what was right about the way I was raised, I think of Bob Brewer.
Bobby Cole was the coolest kid I ever knew. I am pretty sure he became known as Bob in later years, but I knew him as Bobby. Though we attended the same church, we did not talk about religion, and were likely to listen to Dio or Van Halen when we rode around in his red, white, and blue, Nissan pick up truck. When I was with him I always hoped his quiet confidence might somehow rub off on me. His father and my father were friends, and it was easy to see how he ended up being as awesome as he was. He gained a football scholarship before injuring his neck and ended up attending college with me. He never spoke about it in a negative way. Sometimes you hang out with people and immediately know that you are lucky to spend the time. Bobby Cole was one of those people.
Bob Dylan and Bob Marley. For reasons I am certain are fairly universal, they shaped my views on several things. They did it from a distance, and without knowing, and it was done in some ways before I was born, but they did affect me and my approach to living. Oddly enough, I attribute my moderate ability to think critically to Dylan, and my ability to see past tragedy to Marley. In the Bahai faith, there is the Bab, who is a part of what is known as the “twin manifestation”. If I wanted to start a religion, it would include the Twin Bobs… luckily, I am not in the market for starting religions. If we are willing to learn, teachers come in all forms, and the music of these two Bobs, was teacher enough for me at critical times in my life.
Bob Hall shaped my life in several ways. When I was at an age where the quest for information, knowledge, and how I was going to react to the world I was discovering, was all that I craved, there was Bob Hall. He was the director of the “BSU”, which was a campus ministry outreach for, of all things, the Southern Baptist Church. A friend and I, knowing that he was much more than a baptist, and most likely one of the greatest people we would ever personally know, nicknamed him Bobby Bodhisattva. He later was instrumental in saving my life, and though I do not see him now, I know he was what I needed, when I needed both guidance and freedom for my thought processes.
What I know of Bob Hillhouse is minimal. I call him friend. I call him brother. He was in the Navy. My father respects him and I suspect that respect is returned. Bob has probably heard more stories about me than I care to dream, because most Friday nights, for years, he, my father, and a group of free masons gather together to shoot the breeze, practice, and talk about everyday occurrences. Though I do not get to lodge as often as I might like, every time I see Bob, he smiles and speaks as if we had been visiting each week. My dad loves him, I love him, my mother loved him. If I was to sum it up in a few words, he is one good dude.
Bob Carter is a man of mystery in some ways for me. I am fairly certain he lives on a tropical island. He knows more about bowling lanes and their equipment than I will ever know about anything. Each time I see him, when he is in town, he always smiles with a knowing that life is better than most suspect. He is always willing to tell a joke and simply by the virtue of the people that know and like him, I know he is the real deal. Once, he offered to help me with a sign project I was working on, and he did, and he wanted nothing in return. Bob Carter reminds me that I have a long way to go to get to “cool” and his joy for life comes through his words, smile, and actions, even if he does not realize what a gift that is to others.
Bob Brewer (another version) lived across from Michelle and me for years, on a narrow street, in a smaller community outside my home town. He was from South Carolina, where he eventually moved. In some ways, he and his wife Margaret were was last thing holding us to that neighborhood, and we moved soon after their departure back to his home state. From the front of their home, he saw my kids grow up, he heard Michelle and me struggle to find happiness and witnessed glimpses of that happiness. He has seen me at my worst, and best, but always walked over to share news of what had happened since we last talked. He is a Vietnam Veteran who loves VW Beetles. What else can I say about a man that in small, consistent ways, changed my life.
And lastly, not chronologically, but in order of appearance in this blog, Bob Walker. When I was twenty something and working in a warehouse as hard as I could, Bob was 85 and working in a warehouse harder than me. Bob could not read. That is just a fact. What Bob could do, is remember every item in the warehouse and where it was stored, by the four digit item number. The description of the item mattered little to Bob, he knew what it was without the words describing it. He always preached the virtues of drinking hot coffee on hot days in order to cool off. He always gave me the impression he was happy to see me (maybe because I heard his stories and was willing to help in the work of the day). He was the last of the people I knew that were making their way on their own terms and with no apologies for who and what they were. Some people called him Walker. I called him Bob.
There have been other Bobs. These are just a few. There will be other Bobs. They will not take away from my experiences of these. Take what you want from these words, but please understand one thing. Whether it is Bobs, or Jills or Johns, or Susans, our lives are filled with a thread of goodness. We can follow that thread of goodness if we choose, or we can relive and create chaos. After following the thread of goodness from beginning to end, it is ours to continue spinning the thread. And while this may seem like an article on eight or nine Bobs, it is really, simply, a way to start my day with eight reasons to be thankful before I start the day.
I choose to do this each day rather than watch the news. I choose to do this rather than worry for what troubles the day might bring. I choose to do this rather than run over the troubles that yesterday left at the doorstep of my mind. For those that believe life, and pardon my language, sucks, you are correct. For those that believe life is a miracle, you are correct, also. It is not a matter of whether we are naive or can see things the way they really are. It is a matter of finding some small good that exists in the world and creating ways of multiplying that goodness. We can do the same with negativity, but we end up in a proverbial pile of poo of negativity. Whether it is a small step or a giant leap towards the promotion of kindness, joy, hope, love, or compassion, it is worth the effort. For us and others. One drop in the ocean is still, in its essence, the ocean.