Shower the People

James Taylor is a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and a five-time Grammy winner. He’s been performing for more than four decades, he’s sold close to 100 million albums. No wonder Time magazine heralded him as the harbinger of the singer-songwriter era.  Bottom line: the man has skills.

Not too long ago my wife scored us tickets to his concert with the Utah Symphony and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  It was a magical evening. After his final song, I got on my feet with the other 20,000 plus people in attendance and gave him an ovation as he exited the theater. We couldn’t sit down. The air was electric. We just kept cheering and applauding.

Then, all of a sudden, James Taylor returned to the stage. He picked up his guitar, leaned into the microphone, and modestly said, “I hope that looked spontaneous.” Everyone laughed.  His performance was flawless.  He knew he’d nailed it like so many other nights.

It was a priceless lesson to witness how years and years of practice can truly pay off. And then he began singing one of my all-time favorites, Shower the People. I wanted to lean over to Jackie and ask, “Is this heaven?” and then she would say, “No; it’s just Salt Lake.”

What was a remarkable evening for me and thousands of others was a result of one man doing a little each day for most of his life. I once heard someone say, “To do the impossible, you must do the possible in incremental steps over a sustained period of time.”

That’s you. That’s me. We can do that.  Doing the possible, one day at time. If you do, you will one day witness yourself doing what once seemed impossible. And like James Taylor, when you’re finished showering those around you with the gifts you’ve developed, you can also be humble and make it seem like no big deal.



Minding Your Ps & Qs

Jackie and I went to Boston a few years back to see the all the history and enjoy a Luther Vandross concert. She loves that guy. (I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say I gave a little sigh of relief when he went on to sing in the choirs of heaven.) Anyway, one of the many amazing historical sites we visited was a place called Buckman Tavern.

John Buckman was a member of the Lexington Training Band. In those years the tavern was a favorite gathering place for militiamen. On the morning of April 19, 1775, dozens of militiamen gathered in this tavern to await the British troops. Word of their arrival came just before sunrise, and the men left the tavern to assemble in ranks. Both armies gathered. A single shot was fired. To this day, no one knows for sure who fired it, but that shot began the American Revolutionary War.

The original tavern is very small; they’ve now added a store. When Jackie and I went inside, we saw a large fireplace and a few tables. I remember our tour guide pointing to a wall with knife scratches in it and saying, “Here’s where they kept track of their Ps and Qs.”

My mother used to use that phrase. “Mind your Ps and Qs,” she would say. I knew it meant to be good. I thought it meant I should remember to say please and thank you—there’s a P and a Q in that, right? Or maybe it meant that a lowercase p and a lowercase q mirror each other and you need to be careful to use the right one.

So I asked, “Ps and Qs?” She said, “Yes. Pints and quarts.” The knife marks helped patrons keep a running tally of their bills.  If someone started to get out of hand, the bartender would shout, “Mind your Ps and Qs!” to keep them in check.

I’m not sure if the origin of minding your Ps & Qs really came from bars. Maybe it did. I guess it doesn’t matter. I still like it.

Minding your Ps & Qs is really just a way to keep us in check, whatever your own Ps and Qs are. Don’t buy more than you can afford or manage. Always be polite. Be careful with what you’re doing.

If there’s one thing this world needs a little more of, it’s kindness and self control. Just think what could happen if everyone in the world, right now, decided to mind their Ps and Qs.

Saying please and thank you wouldn’t be awkward. People would get out of debt. We would all be kinder to each other. We would work harder. Maybe spend less time in front of a screen.

Let’s start our own revolution and bring back Ps & Qs. We can start in our own families, with our own selves, spouses, and children. Then branch off into other weird places like school, church, ball games, and where we take our dry cleaning.

Even the biggest doors swing on small hinges.