Many Thieves (5045)

“Steal a little and they’ll put you in jail, steal a lot and they’ll make you king.”     – Bob Dylan

That’s a line from his song, Sweetheart Like You.

Life has many thieves.

Yes, many of them are people – robbers and thieves – but that’s not the subject today. Today it’s about the things that rob us of much more than money. Even though the thieves in the illustration for the show-notes have bags of money, that may be the least of our valuables that get taken. More accurately, the valuables that we allow the many thieves to take from us.

The Sound Of Their Voice

I watched 9/11 Phone Calls From The Towers, a documentary on Amazon Prime. It was emotionally wrenching. Survivors were thankful for the phone calls. They were able to have final conversations with their loved ones. Others got voice messages giving them recordings of their loved one’s voice. They’ve gone to great lengths to preserve the recordings, some just a few seconds long.

Terrorists stole the voices of thousands of loved ones. One woman – a survivor – remarked how she’d been told, “You’ll forget the sound of the voice.”

As I watched this documentary I thought about how those recordings were likely both a blessing or a curse. These recordings, unlike this podcast, were produced under duress, fear, and sometimes the knowledge that death was imminent.

The comfort wasn’t so much for the survivors, but for those trapped. There are two sides to the conversations and we may focus too much on the people having to hear the fear in the voices of their loved ones. But those folks who perished had an opportunity to express their final thoughts, feelings, and wishes.

Many of the deceased were able to make numerous phone calls to the people they cared for most. Phone records showed some of them made many calls. They were craving the voices of people who loved them, and the people they loved.

Other recordings were the radio transmissions of the first responders who never made it out. All this audio is priceless to the families adding to the legacy those families will embrace – that they had a loved one who died trying to save and serve the victims of the attack.

In the documentary the survivors recalled another sound. A sound coming from inside themselves working its way out of their mouth. Cries. Moans. Wailing. Sounds some of them admit they had never made before. Or since.

My father turned 96 in September. I have a little bit of audio of him, but not nearly enough. I need to get more. Just last week I got this snippet though. It was about his one and only fight. I didn’t provoke the conversation. My mother did. 😀

Think of all the people in your life who have passed. Some from your earliest childhood. What a blessing we have today with digital technology where we can easily capture and preserve the sound of voices. Can you imagine being able to hear your great grandparents? Or your grandparents? What about that close family friend you saw so frequently?

Those 9/11 survivors are right. You do forget the sound of their voice. Thankfully many of them have those voicemail recordings to remind them.

Time is a thief. Of a lot more than sounds.

The Warmth Of Their Love

This week I’ve been listening to a lot of female vocalists. Artists like Alexa Rose, Brittany Howard, Joan Shelley, Sheryl Crow, Tori Kelly and Freya Ridings.

It’s gonna take heavy-duty AI-driven technology to flesh out how many songs exist about past love, broken love, missed love and all the other thievery that happens with love. Not just romantic love, but all sorts of love. Even a sentimental romantic like me grew tired this week of listening to all the songs about broken love. It goes to show you how universal it is.

Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote, “Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

We all know it’s better to have loved and not lost. Best to hang onto love.

A thief of love – just one thief because there are countless of them – is the wild card that is…the other person.

When it comes to romantic love I’m a champion. I’m world-class. She entered my life when I was 18. We’ve faithfully remained a couple ever since. Sure, I dated others before her so I understand heartbreak and relationships that don’t work out. That’s what dating is for – to see if it might work. Maybe better yet, to find out if it won’t.

We found out it worked. And so it remains “til death do us part.”

There are many variations of love besides romantic. Close friends. People who come into our lives and take up some special place for whatever reason. Sometimes we can explain why. Other times we can’t. Emotional connections form. Some last. Some don’t.

I was once less okay with those losses, but age and experience have taught me to accept the choices others make. Mostly because I know how powerless I am to change things.

In junior high I had a close friend. We remained close until sometime in high school. Something happened. I have no idea what it was. He grew distant. There was no blow-up. No event. No exchanging of words. Just a steady dose of distancing. Like a girl trying to ditch a guy who persists in asking her out – “No, I’ve got to wash my hair tonight” – he offered me less than a handful of excuses (reasons not to hang out), and I let it go. Completely.

I didn’t confront him. I didn’t do anything. Except walk away and move on. Even as a 16-year-old I figured I couldn’t do anything about it. It wasn’t like I didn’t have other friends with whom I hung out regularly. I recall being very puzzled by it. I was sad for a bit, but I accepted his decision even though I craved an explanation to the mystery.

Years later I reached out to him via email. He’s a few states away. Neither of us remained in the town where we went to high school together. We even talked on the phone a few times after exchanging some emails. He was friendly as ever. We reminisced about many of the stupidly fun times we had together. Our “breakup” never came up.

Instead of thinking about what might have been, I choose to be thankful for the memories. I was also happy that we hadn’t harbored lifelong bitterness as so many one-time friends do.

Betrayal is an especially harmful thief of love and friendship. Likely every adult of any age has experienced it.

Betrayal fascinates me. I’m amazed at how often people who suffer betrayal are perplexed about what happened. Or why. It makes it even more insidious really. People are just left to wonder what went wrong. Sometimes.

It’s happened to me. Not just with friends, but with family, too. People who clearly have something against you, but you don’t know what. People who used to not have anything against you, but something changed.

My high school buddy didn’t have anything against me. It just felt like he had a different set of friends and decided one day to start making those associations more important. That’s a whole different thing than betrayal. I never felt betrayed.

Hopefully, we can sense when somebody has something against us. The most remarkable thing to me is the inability people have to sort things out. The people who admit to hating “confrontation” seems very high. I don’t see working out a problem as a confrontation. It’s people coming together to iron out a problem that one of them may not even realize is a problem.

There’s another phenomenon. Sometimes people are angry, resentful and bitter. Sometimes they enjoy those emotions. I’ve learned to not underestimate anger and hatred. Or the ability people have to feel that way toward people they may have once loved or been friendly toward.

Experience and life have taught me that some people don’t want a relationship. Even if they once had one.

All our lives are filled with people who once had some sort of relationship with us, but now it’s over. Co-workers who we were once close to until they got another job. There are many reasons why relationships falter and fail through no fault of either person.

Other times we might choose to end a relationship. I’ve done that. Especially with people who I felt were toxic people or people who couldn’t be trusted. These weren’t really friends though. We may have been “friendly” but that’s different.

The betrayal thief is real. It’s universal. It’s not drifting apart. It’s not growing apart because of some big life-changing events like getting married, having kids or moving away. It’s a betrayal. It’s a friend or family member who suddenly (usually) becomes disloyal. That’s betrayal. Disloyalty.

I’ve studied it in my life. It hasn’t happened very much, but I’ve experienced it. My experience may be unique.

If I sense I’m wrong – and my wiring leans heavily into self-examination (my first reaction isn’t to point a finger at anybody other than myself) – then I usually am quick to inquire. “What have I done?”

My experience has taught me that people who no longer want a relationship with you are put off by that question. It took me years to figure that out. They don’t want resolution. For reasons of their own, they want to embrace their anger, bitterness and whatever else they’re feeling.

We may want to make it right. In their minds, they’re having to defend their emotions and they don’t want to. They really would rather not repair things. Sometimes people love their bitterness, resentment, and anger more than they love you. Like an idiot, I didn’t understand that until I was well into my adulthood.

I recall a time when I tried diligently to find out what I had done but to no avail. Multiple conversations where I begged (literally) for this person who clearly had something against me to tell me what I had done so I could repair it. Repeatedly I told them I wanted their forgiveness and I wanted to fix it. No progress.

“You know what you’ve done,” was the repeated response from them. No, I had no idea what I had done and couldn’t figure out why he wouldn’t just tell me. I even asked another friend to help mediate. Still no progress. After a few months of this, I finally let go and moved on. I figure if a person isn’t going to tell me what I’ve done and give me an opportunity to make amends, then that person is devoid of forgiveness. I don’t want anybody in my life bent that way. This person obviously preferred to harbor ill feelings. While I might remain puzzled, I don’t miss the relationship.

I’ve heard lots of stories through the years of close friends – even couples – who were quite tight for years and years. Until things went south.

Sometimes the explanation is money. A buddy loans significant money to a friend, only to find the relationship altered forever. Sometimes the money is never repaid and now there’s resentment from both of them. A friend hires a friend, only to have the relationship be destroyed because of some hierarchy mind game. Yes, both actions are foolish. Loaning money to a friend. Hiring a friend. I might suggest giving them money. Don’t expect it back. If they repay it, great. If they don’t, don’t be upset. Easier said than done. As for a job, help them find a job without giving them one.

Love  and friendship can turn to bitterness, jealousy, resentment, and hatred. In a hurry.

On Monday over at, my business podcast, I’ll be releasing a conversation I recorded with two ladies who work at the National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children in Cinncinati, Ohio. One of the ladies tells the story of her adult daughter who was murdered by her husband as they approached their 2nd wedding anniversary. They were expecting their first child. He beat her to death in her sleep with a baseball bat. In their own bed. Then disposed of her body and attempted to cover it up.

Friends and family can be robbed of admiration, love, concern, warmth, and care. Sure, sometimes it’s a conscious decision like my decision to be rid of toxic, unsafe people. Quite often it’s due to something somebody feels that grows. Magnifying over time until it’s out of control. The saddest part, sometimes it’s not because you’ve done anything wrong. It’s because the other person has taken offense at something you’ve said or done – something you don’t even realize. They won’t tell you. Instead, they’d rather feel how they feel refusing to let you fix it. In every case, it’s due to selfishness. They want what they want. Some people want to be the object of hurt. They don’t want it fixed or repaired. Other times people want something or somebody different from you. They reach some stage in their life where they want what they want and they just know – they no longer want YOU.

Adultery is the biggest betrayal. It’s the biggest, deepest thief of love. The ultimate betrayal by a spouse. It’s the most colossally selfish act. People declare they deserve to be happy. Culture preaches the message incessantly every day. Nevermind that vows are broken. Trust is violated. Morality sacrificed. Sins committed. Just make sure you’re happy.

When I was young there were lots of phrases that erupted in the 60s. It was a rebellious time in America. Among the chief sayings of that era was, “If it feels good, do it.” The sentiment was more deeply explained by, “As long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else.”

I chuckle now because the hippie generation that crafted such philosophies – in all of their societal rebellion – still had some concern for others. Today, we have NO concern for others. It’s all about US. Narcissism is reigning supreme. The thief of selfishness has robbed us of so many things. Chief among them love and relationships that should have mattered more.

The Joy Of Simple Things

Fancy. That’s what we are. Well, it’s what we’d like to be. If we are fancy, then we’re quite pleased that we are — and even more pleased that you aren’t!

Some years ago an organization recruited me to join them. I was very interested. At first. Until I got to know the culture and the people. They were affected. That is, they were arrogant, pompous and conceited. They prided themselves on being fancy. Judgments were made about just about everything. They enjoyed – even relished – how superior they felt to others. I’m thankful for the experience though because I learned a valuable lesson that has propelled me in recent years. These people loved to “should” people by telling people what to do. I hate it, much preferring to help people figure it out for themselves.

Big houses. Fancy exotic cars. High brow affairs. I’ve been in the business world since I was 16. Spent most of my life running multi-million dollar businesses, but I had NEVER seen a culture so wrapped up in wanting to be big shots — and wanting others to know it. So I walked away. Well, it was more of a jog. 😉

Simple things. Plain things. Ordinary, but special things.

I’ve been thinking quite a lot about this. If you keep up with my “What I’m Up To At The Moment” themed page over at you’ll see minimalism listed. No, I’m not a minimalist, but I have a deep appreciation for it. Mostly because of the simplicity of it. I crave incorporating some parts of it into my life.

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about death (don’t hit the stop button, I’m not going to be morbid). Truth is, I think about death just about every day. Lately, I’ve been specifically thinking about death because of the thievery it causes when it takes from us people with whom we’re very close. People who have made a difference in our lives. For me, these people are important not because of anything fancy.

Those thoughts have kept me awake much of this week as I’ve thought about how it’s the simple things that tend to provide the most value. For me, the most important people are fairly ordinary. They aren’t fancy.

These people haven’t impacted me because they’re noteworthy in the world. They haven’t impacted me because they occupy big stages in the world. Or written best selling books. Or anything else the world might say is “high achievement.” They’re important to me because of the value they provide. They matter to me because their contributions to my life are personal. Not because of any status, wealth or accomplishment.

I have a favorite bowl. I use for oatmeal, cereal, veggies, soup and just about everything else. You can eat anything in a bowl.

I also have a favorite fork. One.

And a favorite spoon.

Mostly, I have a favorite drinking mug. An employee gave it to me over 15 years ago. It glows in the dark. It’s plastic. It’s the only thing I drink from. I use it every single day.

The bowl came from Wal-Mart, purchased when Rhonda and I were on a trip to Louisiana. I wanted to eat some cereal at the bed ‘n breakfast where we were staying. I actually bought two of them. Because Rhonda needed one, too. I think we spent about $5 for both.

That one fork came from a set Rhonda and I had when we got married. She gave the entire set to our son years ago when he moved for Missouri for a brief time. I was not happy she gave him that set. Somehow I ended up with one fork from the set. It was a happy accident. I was really hacked my son gave it away and we never got the set back.

I’m picky about the tines on forks. Their angle. Their spacing. These are important matters.

The spoon is from our current set of eating utensils. It’s not a one-off, but I prefer it over any other spoons we’ve got. I think there’s eight of them in the set.

All told, this stuff is pretty cheap. Twenty-five bucks would likely catch it.

Simple stuff. Daily stuff. Ordinary stuff.

But I love them. I’m defining “love” by my preference for them. It’s my desire to use them over any other utensils in their category. I enjoy using them. They serve me well. I’m not as joyful whenever I have to use something else.

Like the people in my life who really matter. I prefer them. They’re the people I’m most drawn to. The people I most want to spend time with. Because they bring me value.

In some small way, I’m trying to do that for you with this podcast. Hopefully, I bring you some value. I’m not trying to be your closest buddy, but I do want to be something of a category killer for you when it comes to the podcasts you listen to. I want my value to be so high that you don’t think of replacing me. You can add other podcasts – that’s fine! But I want to be irreplaceable. 😉

It’s up to me to deliver.

There’s nothing fancy about it. For me, there’s nothing fancy about anything. I’m uncomfortable with fancy. I rather like simple, plain and ordinary.

The most valuable things in my life haven’t been the most expensive things. The most expensive thing I loved – the thing that gave me the most joy – was my Acura Type R Integra. It was about $25K new. I really loved getting in it and driving it. A quick trip to the store was thrilling. No vehicle has ever felt the same.

I hate getting behind the wheel of my current car. It’s not the car’s fault. Ever since a brake job with some hi-performance pads created horrible brake squeals I dread driving it. It’s the little things, right?

I love The Yellow Studio. There are many things in here that I really enjoy. The space provides comfort, inspiration, and joy. Mostly it’s the Ballard Street art, the books, the figurines and other stuff that bring me joy. You can see pictures here.

I do enjoy the gear – the microphones, the new Rode Rodebaster Pro (thanks to you guys who made financial contributions to Project #CravingEncouragement) and the computer here inside The Yellow Studio. I use them daily. So yes, I’m fond of them. They bring me joy.

Then there’s the music. It’s a big player in my life. Again, it’s not something from Robin Leach’s “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” It’s simple stuff. Mostly relatively low-cost stuff. It’s certainly not fancy or extravagant.

The thief of all this simplicity? Comparisons.

Comparing yourself and what you may love to others. Never mind that they may not love what you do. Or that the things that bring you joy may not bring them joy.

A $100,000 BMW M3 tricked out would be great – especially that killer Limerock edition in that orange color. It wouldn’t be able to replace that glow-in-the-dark mug I drink out of every day though.

Besides, within a few years, some newer cars would make me wish I had something else. I’ve not seen another drinking vessel in 15 years that has beckoned me to ditch what I’ve got. I don’t think it’ll ever be displaced. It’s that priceless to me.

I’m hanging onto that lone fork with a death grip, too. I even get anxious whenever Rhonda uses it. Because I know she doesn’t care about which forks she uses. She thinks my fork fascination is insane. I think she’s either nuts or lying for using mine when she claims she could be just as happy using one of the other ill-designed forks in our drawer. We’re over-run with those. I’ve only got the one!

All these little things impact my life. Every single day!

You’ve got stuff like that, too. I’ll bet the stuff you really care about is just as simple and unfancy as my stuff!

Nothing will displace those things. Joy gets robbed because we don’t think about these things enough.

We’re busy thinking about the BiG things we don’t have that others seem to. Our car isn’t as new. Or as nice. Our house isn’t as fancy. Or in as nice a neighborhood. Our clothes didn’t come off the rack this week. Or this year if you’re like me. As for vacations, well, we’re lucky to get a stay-cation while it seems everybody around us going to Europe, or Australia or some exotic place.

On and on it goes. Comparisonitis kicking our butts with discontentment. Meanwhile, I’ve still got my bowl, my spoon, my fork, and my mug. Life is good. 😀

I need Europe or Australia like I need a hole in my head. A staycation would be nice since I hate to travel.

I’ve got music. Cartoons. Close friends willing to help me, and willing to let me help them (the latter is way more important to me than the former).

I’m rich. Shoot, I’m SUPER-RICH.

The thieves don’t stand a chance to rob me of any of it because I’m intentionally going to work harder to keep it all very safe in my heart. I’m going to think about it more often. More deeply, too.

The irony is that the things that bring me joy today have been the things that always brought me joy. They’ve always been simple, unfancy things. It’s who I am and I’m good with it. If others aren’t, I don’t care.

I just have to work at avoiding the distraction created by a culture that continually tries to influence me to be unhappy with what I love most.

“Don’t you want to be happy?”

No, I’d much rather keep a bear hug on my joy!


Taken last night just prior to hitting RECORD. Look at my smiling face. I’m smiling because I’m anticipating your cooperation in giving me YOUR story for Project #CravingEncouragement. Wanna participate? Go here and find out how.

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