Growing up my dad loved the oldies as well as a little country music.  I could stomach the oldies, I even enjoyed a few songs.  The country – not so much.  Kenny Rogers was a household name, my dad loved the guy!  But now my dad is dead.  In fact, Kenny Rogers is dead.  He died of natural causes 2 days ago.  As a young child you don’t think about death.  It felt like my dad would live forever.  It felt like Kenny would live forever.  It felt like I would live forever.  By the way,  I wonder how many people will get a Kenny Rogers tattoo?

Kobe Bryant died a few weeks ago.  I watch as much basketball as I listen to country music (zero) – combine that with my stoic nature, and you’re looking at someone who simply wasn’t as shocked as the rest of the world.  Of note, I found it baffling how many people came out of the woodworks to get Kobe tribute tattoos (but that’s a discussion for another time). 

Today, the news is reporting that the Corona virus doubled in a week to surpass 300,000 cases (add another 17,309 at the time of writing this).  Currently 13,671 deaths have resulted from the virus.  That’s a lot of tattoos!  (Maybe start investing in ink and needles instead of toilet paper – but I digress.)

I am going to die.  You are going to die.  Someone you love is going to die.  Maybe not from a helicopter crash, maybe not from a virus, but die we must.

Sometimes I ask people how long they think they will live and how they think their life will end.  When the question is reciprocated I answer, “cancer.”  But my answer changed today.

Here’s a prediction for you – you will die just like Kenny Rogers – of natural causes.  I too will die like Kenny Rogers.  We will all die like Kenny Rogers.  Everything is a “natural cause.”  It doesn’t matter if it’s a helicopter crash or a virus, cancer or a gun, drowning or electrocution, hanging from a tree or hanging on a cross.  It’s all natural.  It’s part of mortality’s condition.  Whether you suffer or go in peace, have your life taken by another person or take it yourself, it’s still the same result – DEATH. 

THE CHALLENGE:  Take a lesson from Corona, Kenny and Kobe.  The virus isn’t even dead yet and there are ALREADY a bunch of tattoos for that thing (Google if you don’t believe me).  Live your life valiantly.  Do what you love and be the best at it.  Leave your mark (pun intended).  Be unforgettable.  Measure yourself by the number of people who measure themselves by you.  COVID-19 changed everything in a week, you can make decisions to change your life just as fast.  Will you make the changes you want to see or continue to procrastinate?  Think about it.  Corona gets the job done because Corona doesn’t procrastinate – another 1,247 confirmed cases just in the time it took me to write this.  Go do something.  Make a change.


Long before the internet, there was this place called the library. If you wanted to gather information in a systematic fashion what would you use?  Google?  Nope!  Enter the prehistoric search engine, the Dewey Decimal System (Thank you Melvil, but I digress, a lot).

Going to the library was a must for me. I recall maxing out the 10 book limit on a regular basis.  My stack of books always came out of the “nature” genre, usually insects.

I was fascinated with bugs.  If I wasn’t reading about them, I was collecting specimens.  If I wasn’t collecting them, I was “conquering” them…usually with the bottom of my foot…or a magnifying glass (and a few other creative ways not worth mentioning – don’t judge – I was a boy).  Maybe that’s why my answer to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” (An entomologist) never came to fruition.  (But I digress, again)

Have you ever noticed that ants take to the air for an opportunity to mate every time a summer heat wave strikes? After the “magic” happens, what next?  The male dies and the female abandons her wings.  What?!  What is wrong with Mother Nature?  Shouldn’t a new momma ant make herself as mobile as possible?  You know, explore the town, find the best neighborhood, maybe do a little shopping and perhaps raid a picnic?  Instead, she’s 100% committed.  She picks her nesting site and goes to work, never stopping until she dies.

THE CHALLENGE: Stop flying around.  You know what you want to be when you “grow up” right?  So do it.  Chew your wings off!  Dig in!  Do your thing!  Get to work and don’t stop.  The formula is that simple.  I already know that 99.9% of you reading this are going to look your wings in the mirror and tell yourself how you can’t live without them, and that you can’t lose them, at least not yet.  It’s a lie.  Don’t listen.

“Don’t Bee a Hypocrite”

Thus far, my writings have turned out to be a swarm of ways to say essentially the same thing – that is to “Decisively execute the process of self-improvement.” Every day has been a new adventure in self-examination, idea expression and life observation.

I look for the best in others but am acutely aware of our shortfalls. Every challenge I give to “you” is also to “me.” Each time I point at you, the four fingers turned back at me are supercharged with interrogation.

I grow fruit trees. Spring has therefore grown to be my favorite time of year. I love to watch bees flip from flower to flower. No bees, no fruit, simple. I’ve watched documentaries and read a number of articles on colony collapse disorder (although to be fair, there is an opposing view). I’ve listened to lectures from a number of specialists speak to the value of bees and honey. I understand their importance in the cycle of life. Or do I?

In a few moments, I will execute a plan to bury an underground hive. I will fill a few buckets with beach sand and dump it upon the hive entrance.


Nobody asked me to do this. Nobody gave me the idea. I knew I preferred this method to chemicals and that I wouldn’t be doing it if there wasn’t a very high potential for the swarm to attack a number of shipmates during a training evolution. I watched a bee from this nest make several attempts to sting today and I cringed at the thought of a throng of buzzing madness. Did I do the right thing? I will know on Thursday. Unfortunately for the bees, a decision had to be made today. And, fortunately, I can dig them out in less than 48 hours. It might not work, but worth a try.

THE CHALLENGE: Not everything is black and white. In life, you will be tested to see exactly where you stand on principles that you hold most dear. It is not always easy, especially when the decision has benefits either way. Sometimes it’s a matter of determining if the benefit outweighs the associated risk. Sometimes it’s a matter of thinking fast under pressure. It might be a decision to stay committed to the long haul. The variables are infinite. Sometimes you will be right. Sometimes you will be wrong. Sometimes we may feel like hypocrites.  Sometimes we are. When a wrong choice is made in ignorance, remember that “Failure is an event, not a person.” Our personal development is a process.

Photo by skiena