President’s Column - Augest 2017 - by Mike Hodson

Mike Hodson

Blues is the Road

  We travel down many roads in our lives, both literally and figuratively. Sometimes we just listen to the blues. Other times, the journey is all about the blues. Wherever we go and whatever we do, we should learn something about the world, ourselves or both.

   We can get the blues from many different sources. Personal and professional relationships can be very complex with different perspectives, agendas and expectations potentially leading to unpleasantness or worse. Financial difficulties have plagued the human race since time immemorial, some self-inflicted, some not. Medical challenges can make us wonder why such bad luck comes our way, regardless of our attempts at healthy living.

   My trips with the blues have been mostly due to poor judgments on my part. As with many young men, I confused love and lust and suffered the emotional and financial consequences. Periods of bitterness followed, a sad waste of time and energy. Finally, I emerged from the darkness with a clear vision of who I was and what I wanted. Priorities changed miraculously as I considered the future beyond the next 15 minutes. Most important was my resolve not to repeat my previous mistakes. Easier said than done!

   Having been through some incredibly tough times himself, my dad liked to say, "It takes a hot fire to make strong steel." Although he has been physically gone for more than 15 years, almost everyday I’m greatly inspired by his quiet strength and incredible resilience. Remaining calm and composed in the face of strife are admirable qualities to which I aspire. With unimaginable blues journeys travelled, turning to the dark side would have been easy. Easy was never his way; the Greatest Generation most often took the high road. Of course, my father was hugely human, as we all are, “as is, where is, with all faults.” Imperfections are very real, understandable and validating.

   Opportunities for me to feel the hot fire were very rare growing up in the genteel atmosphere of suburban Los Angeles in the 50's and 60's. For us kids, life was simple, happy and secure. The future always looked bright. Those were wonderful times to be treasured and, hopefully, somewhat recreated for our children.

   I learned to appreciate how fortunate my life has been and how it continues to be today. With a wonderful wife, terrific children and good health, my blessings are huge. Those people who are never truly challenged may not really experience the blues. Lows in life help to savor the highs and, just maybe, will create motivation to improve every aspect of your life.

   Embrace new roads, unknown experiences and paths less visited. My comfort zone has been expanded dramatically thanks to the acceptance of unstructured travel. Obsessively, compulsively and disorderly planning of every detail of every trip no longer has any value for me, and it actually adds unnecessary stress. Relax, savor the moment, and if the stuff hits the fan, so be it. Take away the positive, learn from the experience, build character and be thankful. Blues is the road we gotta drive, good, bad or indifferent. Enjoy the journey -- the potholes only make the smooth pavement better.