Thursday, December 04, 2014

Respond With Love

I wrote this in the weeks after Shirley and I were almost killed in a bad car accident. We not only lost our car - but the people that owned the car that had hit us reported the car as stolen to help save a family member from getting in more trouble - and sadly, lying about all of that worked out for them (in the short-term).
Recently, I read the news - you see things you don't want to see. You come to Facebook and you see posts where people post their views - people disagree on their views - and it causes even more division - more arguing - and it seems to be spiraling out of control.

We are all people. We all have our own perspectives and our unique life experiences that we shape our world, our opinions, and our views. If you are arguing with somebody over these recent events - please remember to respect the path that person has walked to earn their perspective, their opinions, and their views. I believe that we need to all take a step back and remember that no matter how clever we are - no matter how slick we are - no matter how good we can lie, cheat, and steal our way through life - none of us will escape Final judgement.
My message for today ...
Respond with with love and let God sort them out.
This was my response when I found out nothing would be done to the person that almost killed kill us. It is still my response today.
"I believe that it all comes down to senselessness, and selfishness. Goodness diffuses itself - it gives - it shares - it loves - it creates - whereas evil is motivated by self and/or selfish things - it takes - it steals - it hates - it destroys... goodness is light - evil is darkness - only one has the ability to shine out the other. We cannot allow the darkness of this world to overpower the light of our love, our compassion, or our ability to see the darkness for what it really is - hurt, disappointment, bitterness - and an inability to feel the same emotion that we are all felling now. No matter how evil their deed - I'm going to pray for them anyway and shine out some darkness." ~ Blackjack's Random Thoughts, December 14, 2012.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

3 Rules

I wrote this several years ago. I had initially intended to add it into my book Lessons In 9 Ball - but for some reason it wasn't. Not sure why. I'm pretty sure that the date on this is incorrect - by about 10 years. I believe that I wrote a draft for this while I was in Germany in 1990 - but all I have to go on is the date that says that I edited it in January of 2000. Feel free to pass this on and share it - as it was shared with me by many people that came before me.
My 3 Rules for Success in Life and in Pool
Rule #1
Love, honor and respect the game - and in return, the game will love, honor and respect you.
Honor and respect is not something you are born with – you have to give it to receive it – and to receive it you have to earn it. Exercise honor and respect - not only for the game – but also honor and respect yourself – honor and respect your opponent – honor and respect the people that are watching you.
Be grateful for everything – good or bad. In my experience, gratitude shines the light that will lead you out of the darkness. Ingratitude is the halitosis of the soul. I make very few guarantees, but I can guarantee you that nothing will take you farther in life than a heart that is filled with honor and respect – and wrapped in gratitude.
Rule #2
Never give in to disappointments or setbacks.
Disappointments and setbacks are the stepping stones that will lead you towards greatness. Failures, setbacks, disappointments – they show us where we need to improve – they show us where we need to direct our energy during practice – and they provide the motivation and drive that we need to constantly seek improvement and growth. Nothing should be smooth or easy for you. Never forget – that to start a fire you need friction – that friction gives birth to the spark that will ignite the flame that will grow into a blazing fire. Adversity is just another log on the fire – so keep that fire burning strong!
Learn how to welcome and accept adversity the same way you would accept winning the lottery. As long as you don’t quit before the miracle – you will eventually grow to accept and understand that adversity is the most precious gift that you will ever receive. Your attitude towards adversity will shape you into who you will become.
Rule #3
Remember … none of this is ever about you – it is about the people you touch with your life.
Be open – be accessible to others - and above all - be generous. When you are generous with your knowledge and your experience, you extend your legacy outward towards infinity. Make sure to go out of your way – EVERY DAY – to help and assist others to grow, achieve, and overcome. Eventually, the lives you touch will touch the lives of others. Every life that is touched adds another link to the endless chain of your love, honor, and respect for the game. That is how champions – real champions – persevere and endure. ~ Blackjack’s Random Thoughts ~ January 15, 2000

Sunday, November 30, 2014

When you lose, You win ...

"I've always looked at it like this ... you will always learn more when you lose than when you win. If we won all of the time - how could we stay motivated towards constant improvement? In the game of pool, "losing" is just another word for "Motivational Fuel" ... Losing teaches you - it teaches you where you need to improve - and it teaches you that you still have a lot of work to do to get where you want to go ... Losing keeps your ego in check - and losing shows you exactly what you should be working on during practice ... No matter what happens out there on the table - I don't care what it is - you can take it and use it to your advantage in the future. This includes all of the bad rolls - all of the missed shots - all of the silly mistakes - all of the position errors - and all of the losses. They are all gifts from the pool Gods that should be used to transform you into a stronger, better player - a stronger, better person - and eventually ... a stronger, better CHAMPION!" ~ Blackjack's Random Thoughts, November 30, 2014.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What I think ...

I received a question from somebody yesterday about the Michael Brown incident. The questions was this ... "Having been a police officer - what do YOU think of their decision to not have the officer face charges for this murder?"
Not knowing much about this incident - I hesitated to respond. First of all, I realized that I was being baited into a pissing contest - and I try to avoid pissing contests at all costs - but I did feel that I owed my friend a response - and I'm pretty sure that he didn't expect to hear this from me - or anybody else.
What do I think?
... what I think doesn't matter half as much as what I am seeing. I see cars being flipped over - buildings being damaged and looted. On one channel, I see a police officer trying to explain his actions, while on another channel I see the parents mourning their child - and mourning the results of a legal process that they have lost faith in.
I see people yelling. I see people marching in the streets. I see people hating each other.
I hear cries. I hear arguing. I hear disagreements on both sides of an issue that just seems to be bringing out the worst and best from so many people.
I see the media sensationalizing this situation from every angle in an attempt to keep the emotions on both sides heightened for as long as possible. I find that disrespectful to everybody involved in this situation.
You see ... I have no side in this in this issue - but I do have life experience that gives me a very unique perspective. I find it interesting that you have asked me this question because I was a police officer.
When you think of that uniform - you obviously think of me - and you have baited me into this response because I was a "a cop" ... and because I was "a cop" - I am being singled out and baited into a private sub-argument. So ... against my better judgement, I'll bite around the hook.
Let me state that my law enforcement career is just a small part of my life experience. It does not define my life - nor does it define me as a person. In almost 50 years, I have been many different things - I have worn many different uniforms - many different hats - and I am aware of who and where I am today because of all that I have experienced.
Now ... I can clearly see that you are upset with law enforcement. That is understandable because of the emotions that are charging and fueling this incident. I won't pretend to understand your point of view because I have not walked in your shoes. I have not lived your life - I have not experienced your struggles. Your perspective is unique to your personal experience. So is mine.
So ... I thought I would take a moment to share with you my experience and why I became a police officer (over 20 years ago). You may be surprised - you may change your mind - or maybe you won't. I have no control over how you will take my response, but here it goes ...
In the fall of 1980, I was 14 years old. I was at my brother's flag football game at local field in Hollywood, Florida. We had forgotten something at home, and my mother had asked me to walk back home - it was about 5 blocks - I had to run home - retrieve what ever it was - and bring it back. So off I went - powered by Converse.
I looked no different than any other teenage at the time. I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt - my hair was kind of long and shaggy - and I probably looked like I was up to no good - but I really wasn't. I was good kid - even if I didn't look the part.
Two blocks into my journey - from out of nowhere - a police car quickly pulled up beside me and stopped abruptly. The officer got out of his car and approached me with a scowl - screaming for me to put my hands on the car. I was scared shit-less. Even though I had done nothing wrong - I almost ran out of fear. The officer startled me - and his demeanor gave me the impression that I was going to experience his wrath.
After I was told to put my hands on the car. I did. Then I found out that it wasn't good enough for him, so he violently kicked my legs apart and tossed me head first over the hood of the car. My left arm scraped against the windshield wiper on the passenger side of his patrol car. When I raised my arm up to look at my injuries, he pulled me by the back of my t-shirt and ripped it as he tossed me back on the hood of the car - head first. He asked me my name. He then rummaged through my pockets. He tossed everything I had onto the hood of the car and berated me for over 10 minutes.
People came out of their houses to watch. This was not my neighborhood - nobody knew who I was. The officer continuously insulted me personally - I was called an asshole. I was called a spic (being Italian, I wasn't sure if I qualified for the slur - but he seemed to like calling me that). I was also called a dumb-ass. All I was doing was walking home and doing what my mother had asked me to do.
I was to told to "get the f--- out of that neighborhood" and then he left.
I ran home. Got the item. I took a different - longer route back to the football field - and completely avoided that neighborhood.
My mother was enraged when she saw my arm - my clothes were ripped - and I was terrified. I distinctly remember that when she called - there was no record of any police officer stopping me in that neighborhood.
So ... I've been there - and I know what it is like to feel violated. That was 34 years ago - but I remember it like it was yesterday. It was my one and only experience - I can't even imagine having to deal with that on a regular basis.
In 1986, a friend of mine was being harassed and threatened by her estranged boyfriend. She pleaded with the police to help her because she feared for her life. They dismissed her requests for help as a simple "lovers spat" - they did nothing at all - and 2 nights later she was murdered by him at the location she was hiding. She was shot twice in the head - and then he turned the gun on himself. She was 20 years old. She did everything she was supposed to do. It's a shame that law enforcement didn't do all that they could do.
Those are the two significant reasons that pushed me to becoming a police officer. I wanted to be different. I wanted to make a difference. That is why I wore the badge.
I believe that I did make a difference. My 5 years as a police officer was a lot of things - but it mostly a struggle for me to try to find a way to "fit in". People that served with me on the El Paso Police Department will tell you that as well. I did the best that I could day after day - night after night - and I parted ways when I didn't enjoy the job anymore. If you don't love that job, you shouldn't be out there. If you don't love that job, you become a liability to the people around you. Thank God I noticed that and moved on.
In my law enforcement days, I worked with some really great people. I also worked with some real jerks - but its like that in any job. There are good and bad people everywhere. I never tossed anybody over the hood of a patrol vehicle. I never called anybody names or lashed out on them in anger. If somebody called for help, I did all that I could do for them - even if some of the people that I worked with thought that I was getting too "personally involved" in the call - I did all that I could because ... I had a purpose. I always believed then - as I do now - you can never do too much for somebody in need. I never looked the other way.
That is who I was behind the badge. That is who I am now. I doubt that I will ever change. If that's a fault, so be it - that's how I'm wired.
I have also lived through the experience of losing a child. It has been 22 years. That pain never goes away. You think about it all the time. Holidays are different - so are anniversaries - it is sharp, dull, constant pain that pierces your heart and soul on a daily basis. I pray for anybody that has lost a child. They know a pain far too great to explain in words.
I have also worked in the local media on and off for many years now. I know what goes in to "keeping a story alive". The depths that some people will go to aggressively "keep a story a live" or to "manipulate/add fuel to the fire/create a public outcry" is limitless. When I see this at any level of media, it is a sure sign of a lack of talent, creativity, and personal integrity. I know that because on several occasions I have lacked talent, creativity, and personal integrity when faced with a deadline. Guilty as charged.
So what do I think?
Having the perspective that I have today - I think it is a very unfortunate situation. I think that people need to put love where there is no love. I think that people need to try and understand each other more. I think that people need to listen more than they talk. I think we need to love our kids. I think that we should exercise our compassion more than we exercise our need to exploit our political views. I think we need to do something for somebody other than ourselves - expecting nothing in return. I think that we need to realize that skin color does not perpetuate hatred - people perpetuate hatred. I think we need to show compassion. I think we should think before we speak. I think we need to look at ourselves before we look at others. I think our actions need to reflect our words. I think we need to forgive more than we realize. I think we need to turn to God - not violence. I think we need to realize that we are all human and we all make mistakes - and that "human" is an all-inclusive, terminal condition. I think that we need to concentrate on what we have in common - rather than to use the things that make us different as an excuse for division. I think that in this situation - everybody is right - and I also think that everybody is wrong ... ON BOTH SIDES OF THE MIRROR.
That's what I think ... and I won't try to force anybody to think the same way.