When I approach the grocery check stand I know that failure is about to become my trademark. As soon as I place my ATM card in the slot on the check stand, my confidence wanes. My card will not work — I know it — and soon the whole world will witness my humiliation.
After my third attempt to make the Visa card perform, patient grocery clerks, and even other customers, show me the correct way to insert and move my card. Finally, my wife Monika takes the card out of my hand, and the card works fine for her.
Monika explains to the clerk, or whoever is nearby, that, “He doesn’t use his card often.” Bystanders look at me and slowly shake their heads or pat Monika on the shoulder as if to say, “Poor thing … she has to live with him.”
• I am also dumb when it comes to setting a table. If more than one fork or spoon is involved I am lost. Does the knife go outside or inside the fork, on the right side? Where does this tiny spoon or fork go? Does the sharp edge of the knife face the plate or not? Dining table mystery is part of my soul.
• Regular failure at the checkstand and dining room table occurs because I visualize and expect to fail. My life experience guarantees a poor performance at these two tasks, and I live up to what I anticipate … unfortunately. I guess mastering these skills is not important to me?
• It’s possible to lose from within. Your inner thoughts can become your intentions, and your intentions can become your real world.
• During the research I completed for the classes I teach on Eastern philosophy, the idea that thoughts create your actions appeared often in the literature. Also, my research uncovered the idea that we become what we think about most of the time … In other words, if we believe that the universe is unfriendly or hard then we become cynical and sarcastic. Those who believe the universe is friendly tend to be optimistic and avoid an “ain’t life awful” attitude.
• Of course, your attitude determines the type of people you attract. Hard, pessimistic people have no time for optimists. They consider optimists to be naïve. They poke fun at the optimists and dismiss them as unrealistic people who are easily victimized. Optimists believe that pessimistic people lack humor and that they don’t enjoy life. They also believe that pessimists are not creative people.
• When optimists and pessimists occasionally get together socially the conversation ends very quickly, or they argue about everything under the sun. Arguments between pessimists and optimists go nowhere. Nobody changes his mind, and both parties shake their heads and walk away.
• One of my Grandfather Billingsley’s favorite life lessons to me was, “Tell me who you run with, and I will tell you who you are.”
• My grandfather always emphasized that your choice of friends and your choice of a spouse determine if you will have a happy life or a dismal life. He believed that loyal friends and a loving spouse were much more important than material things, power or status in the community.
• I don’t recall my grandfather ever badmouthing anyone. If he described anyone as a nice person you could go to the bank with that person. He had very little money because money was not important in his world.
Bob Billingsley is an El Dorado Hills resident and columnist at the Mountain Democrat.