Agree to Disagree – It’s Your Choice

Have you ever read The Four Agreements?  If you haven’t, you should. As I suggested in my previous blog post, I would suggest going in with an open mind, because what he writes might blow your mind. I know it did mine. And it has never been the same since.

I started reading this book at the suggestion of a friend. It was a fairly short read but it wasn’t long before I started thinking about how these agreements relate to me and my life.

The author believes there are only four rules, or agreements, we should live by if we want to be live a life of fulfillment and content. They are:

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Don’t take anything personal.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
  4. Always do your best.

He suggests that most people are asleep and it is only when they wake up can they see that what they thought believed, may in fact be someone else’s beliefs.

When we are born, we are at the mercy of our parents. They teach us everything they know about life; how to think, how to behave, our morals and values and what God to believe in. We, in turn, become “domesticated,” a word that Don Miguel uses to describe the process, just as you would domesticate a pet.

We don’t usually question this because when we do, we are “misbehaving” or “rebelling,” which is not tolerated in most households. We learn that there are consequences, and unless we want to be punished, we play the game, obeying, becoming miniatures of our parents (who learned that from their parents, and so on).

By the time we reach adulthood, we assume that what we believed all along was our truth, was in reality, something we never really agreed to.

Many people won’t question their beliefs, because they are loyal to their parents, their families, and to their Gods. Maybe they are afraid to rock the boat, challenge their beliefs, or maybe they are afraid of what they might find.

It is only when we have the courage to explore who we are, and decide what we want our lives to be, that we are truly living the life we are meant to live.

The following is my interpretation of the four agreements, and not necessarily Ruiz’s:

Be impeccable with your word.

I took this to mean that we should not talk bad about ourselves and others. We should say what we mean and be respectful when speaking to someone, even if they don’t always reciprocate. We should be careful with our words. Once they are spoken, they can only be forgiven, not forgotten.

Don’t take anything personal.

This is a great reminder, because many people struggle with self-esteem issues that involves taking responsibility for things they shouldn’t. The truth is, the way people treat you is not because of you. It has to do with who they are and their perception of life. For example, if you do something the other person doesn’t like, it’s because they were expecting you to do something, or expected you to be a certain way. But you have a right to be whoever you want. You are not here to please others. You are here to grow. In addition, when we take responsibility for things we shouldn’t, we are stunting others’ growth, as well.

Don’t make assumptions.

Assumptions can kill a relationship faster than anything else. If you want to know the truth about something, ask. Don’t assume you know. Just like the old saying suggest; “When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me.” I know it’s not pretty, but I use it to remind me that assumptions are based on preconceived ideas from my past experiences. It’s me thinking I know what’s going on inside someone else’s head, but there’s no way I could. I am not psychic. It’s better to have all the facts first, before we decide what our next step will be. Making assumptions also indicates that we know all there is to know, and there is no way we couod. Learning is life-long and when we assume we know it all, no one will want to be around us. Stop, listen, and ask questions; and then decide what’s next.

Always do your best.

“Your best is going to change moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.”

I love this passage, because I used to beat myself up for not being perfect. I am not sure where I got the idea that I could be perfect. Maybe it’s because when I quit drinking and my head cleared, I felt like I could do anything. The truth is, I can’t. I can do some things well, but I will never be perfect. However, I strive to be better than I was yesterday, even if it is just a little bit, and I think that’s pretty good.

Knowing all I really have to do is my best keeps me from being too hard on myself. I used to think I had to be tough on myself, because I really did want to be perfect. I wanted to be the best at something, anything!  Now that I know that is unrealistic, I am good with striving to always do my best.

Everything Changes

Have I used this title before? I am pretty sure I have. I have written countless blogs over the past 8 or so years, and change is a pretty constant theme of mine.

I have a book by Neale Donald Walsh that sits on my desk downstairs with the sincere intention of reading. I bought it last year during a trip to Barnes and Noble and set it aside until I had more time. Because I am still working (which I have a feeling will change soon), I haven’t had the time, or the patience, I suppose.  There’s always work to do, which takes precedence over leisurly reading.

The title of the book is, “When Everything Changes, Change Everything,” and I can’t think of a better time to start reading it.

For those who don’t know, Neale Donald Walsch is the author of the “Conversations with God” books. The premise of the series of books is that Walsch sits down at his computer one day, frustrated with his life, and writes a letter to God, demanding to know why bad things were happening to him. Though it is Walsch typing the words, he states they are not his words, but God’s.

I have read most of the series, which I think there are four or five at last count. Walsch has written other books, too. One of his books, on relationships, helped me understand that we enter into them for the wrong reasons. It was only after his words helped me understand that I was looking for someone to save me, that I could see why I was doomed to singlehood. He wrote that I needed to learn to love myself first and then enter into a relationship in which my partner and I helped each other grow. I learned that I had been self-centered and selfish in the way I was thinking, and I needed to look at relationships in a totally different way including how I saw myself in the relationship.

Needless to say, this man’s writings had a profound effect on my motivation for becoming a better person, which is why I value his knowledge so much.  However, an open mind is a prerequisite. Walsch indicates that God is not vengelful, who expects his children to be perfect. Instead, God wants us to experience life to the fullest, to do something with it, to make mistakes so we can learn from them, and be the best human beings we can be.  Walsch also writes that there is no right or wrong, only choices, which also explains his idea that there is no Heaven or Hell, only that which we make for ourselves.

His books are eye-opening, to say the least, but what it did most of all, was to help me understand that there is much more to life than what we allow ourselves to see, and what we choose to believe.

The title of this particular book suggests that when things change, we need to change the way we look at it.  We can embrace change, strive to know more about how we can learn and grow through it. Or, we can fight and resist change, which only frustrates us and makes us feel bad.  Any way you look at it, the result will eventually bring you to the same conclusion: Everything changes, regardless of what we want or don’t want.

Anxiety + Fear = Chaos

The word “chaos” has always intrigued me.  I remember my mom using it when she had to raise her voice a couple of octaves just so she could be heard over the chatter of little children. “This is chaos!” she would exclaim and throw her hands up in the air.

Chaos actually has a few different definitions. Chaos theory is a mathematical theory used to explain things such as the weather, astronomy, and politics. The term chaos is a used to describe “a state of utter confusion or disorder; a total lack of organization or order; any confused, disorderly mass,” which I am sure my mom was referring to.

I don’t know much about chaos theory, but I can relate to the latter, through my experience of raising four children, long before co-parenting was cool. As their fathers saw it, the kids lived with me, so they were my responsibility. End of story. (Eye roll)

Chaos. I lived it. My life was “a state of utter confusion.” Every day there was a new problem, or 10, and I worked through them like a champion. No, that’s not quite how it went. It was more like crawled my way into a hole I didn’t want to come out of. It wasn’t pretty. But somehow we lived through it, and my kids turned out to be pretty good adults.

I have dealt with anxiety all of my life. As a kid, I was plagued with neurotic fears that kept me from enjoying my life. I was scared of everything, all the time. There was no escape from my nightmares.

I developed panic attacks when I was 19, which made me isolate and become a hermit, for fear of having an attack in public. All I could think about was how to prevent the attacks from ruining my life. My life became all about damage control.

I self-medicated with alcohol, and although it helped “take the edge off,” it didn’t help me deal with the attacks. Pretty soon, not even that helped. I lived my life constantly on the verge of a breakdown, letting my emotions control me. I lied and made excuses to hide my feelings of helplessness, but I knew the truth. I was afraid of life itself.

But then I did something I never thought possible. I took back control of my life. (I’m not sure “back” is really an appropriate way of wording it, because I am not sure I ever had control of it. I’d like to think I did, but looking back, I seriously doubt it.)

If I make it sound easy, I assure you, it wasn’t. It took the past 15 years of confronting those fears, accepting who I am, letting go of resentments and regrets, and changing my overall attitude about life to bring me to where I am today; a confident and self-assured woman. I thought I finally had a handle on life, but then the pandemic happened, and the fears I thought had been resolved slapped me upside my head.

Not only was I thrown into my own chaos of figuring out how I am going to deal with this new kind of life, but now I have to do my best to soothe my children and grandchildren’s fears that everything is going to be ok.  Because, who knows if it will? The fear of the unknown, the fear of losing something or someone precious to us, are two of the greatest fears plaguing most people today.

As I sat deciding what title I was going to use for this blog, it occurred to me that my anxiety is not helping my situation. I worry too much about things I can’t control. (I blame my overactive imagination.) And for a naturally anxious person like me, adding unfounded fears to the mix just naturally creates an outcome of internal chaos–the belief that we do not have control over our lives.

The truth is, and something we have to continually remind ourselves of, is that we ALL have control over our lives, even while we are forced to stay home to protect ourselves and others from the virus.  We still get to decide whether or not we are going to let ourselves be manipulated by our own neurotic minds, or if we are going to take control of the situation and do something constructive, rather than wallow in self-pity.

There is a quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt that I use to remind myself that the anxiety-inspired fears are the result of my imagination: “The only thing to fear is fear itself.”

When I start to feel anxious about the things I can’t control and the “what-ifs” start to race through my mind, I take a step back and look at why this is. It usually indicates that it’s time to turn off the news or get off Facebook.  It’s important to stay informed, but if you find yourself reading every single blog that reminds you how bad it is and not balancing it with the good news, of course you are going to get anxious.

Our emotions are not our reality, but it sometimes feels like they are. Our emotions are driven by our thoughts and assumptions. If we change the way we think about something, we can change the way we feel.  That’s why it is so important to focus on something positive.

So, we can sit in our homes and twiddle our thumbs, and be anxious and fearful that something bad is going to happen to us, or we can do something positive with our time and focus our energy in a more positive way. A few ideas:

  • Start a new creative project
  • Take up a new hobby
  • Volunteer to help make masks for the hospitals
  • Deliver groceries to the elderly
  • Learn how to cook new recipes
  • Spend quality time with your kids
  • Take an online course
  • Make cards and take them to the local nursing home
  • Read a book or learn a new language
  • Clean and declutter your house
  • Exercise or take a walk
  • Clean up your yard
  • Write your life story or the next bestseller

The choices are endless!

Keeping busy is what helped me deal with my anxiety in the past, and I have a feeling it’s what is going to help me get through this latest challenge.  But even more than that, I need to remind myself I am in control of the situation, and I can make it a bad experience or a better experience. It’s all about perspective.

Perspective

There’s no doubt that when we change the way we look at something, we see it in a whole new light; a different perspective, if you will.

For example, if we get stuck in the loop of believing that nothing good ever happens to us – that the only luck we have is bad luck, and the world would be better off without us – we are going to see the world as gray and meaningless.

But once we find that spark of hope that tells us that we have the power to change the way we think, our lives become better. We become empowered to want to do more, be more. 

All we need is a little nudge; something or someone to show us that it is possible.

Let me tell you a little story:

“Once upon a time there lived a little girl who came from a large family. The members of the family were  much too busy with other things to care much about the needs of the little girl. This unhappy little girl decided if no one cared about her, she wasn’t going to care, either. Her once lively spirit diminished, until all that was left was a shell.

As she grew into an adult, she found herself searching for something that would fill the emptiness inside her. But no matter what she did, happiness was always just out of her reach. She looked for it in relationships, her work, and her children, but nothing ever seemed to fill the hole inside her.

One day, she realized she couldn’t go on living that way. The way she saw it, she only had two options; end it all, or do something about it. Fortunately, she choose the latter.

She quit drinking and smoking and joined a 12-Step group. She started hanging around positive people , good examples of who she wanted to be. She  faced her demons and her fears. She began to accept life on life’s terms. And after years of being what everyone wanted her to be, she learned who she really was; a wonderful, caring, generous, socially-awkward basket case. And she learned to love every aspect of who she was.

She learned to let go of her resentments and was finally able to forgive those who had hurt her.  She took chances on love and life, and learned that every little success brought her closer to where she wanted to be. And every setback made her even more determined  to become the person she was meant to be.

Years passed before she was able to look back and understand that the suffering, the pain, and all the heartache she had gone through, had a purpose.  She had to go through the bad to appreciate the good. She learned to look at obstacles, not as something trying to defeat her, but as lessons to learn from, so she could grow as a human being.

And as she contemplated her life, she realized for the very first time she was truly happy. Oh, she’s had happy moments throughout her life, but they were fleeting.  Now she was happy, truly happy, just because. And that is how she lived her life.

And she lived happily-ever-after.”

As you might have guess, this is a true story. This is my story. But it’s not the only one. It’s the one that catapulted me from my simple existence, to become an active participant in life. Not only did my attitude change as a result of my ‘Self’ work, but so did my life. I became more positive, and ambitious. I had more energy and drive to help others.

There was a time when I hated my life. But hard work and determination paid off; somewhere along the way, I learned to love myself, and my life.

Today, I may be a better version of myself, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have problems. I face new challenges every day; whether it is health, work, relationship-related; but I can go to bed with peace of mind and thank God for the opportunity to learn and grow.

I know; it sounds too good to be true. But I am living proof that it can be done.  When I think about where I was, and where I am now, all I can say is that it is truly a miracle.

But it’s not magic. It’s a lot of work, it takes time to unlearn bad habits and develop new, healthier habits. You will have to challenge your beliefs and let go of everything you thought was real. You will have to reach deep inside you and pull out your most painful memories so you can finally resolve them, instead of just pushing them away.

You will cry so much you think you might never ever stop. But then one day, you will wake up and realize how great your life is. You will feel like shouting it to the world and you will want to share it with everyone. And then you will know you have changed the way you look at life.

In My Father’s Footsteps

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Just Another Thursday

 

 

 

It’s just another Thursday. But is it, really?

When you think about it, today might be just one of approximately 27,500 days of your life, for the average person (by the time you reach 50 years old, you have lived 18, 266 days), but it’ a day you will never get back.

Let’s look at this Thursday we have in front of us; for the next 24 hours, we can do anything we want. I imagine you’re sitting there thinking, “Nope, not true…I gotta work, stuck behind a desk …. Gotta take care of the kids … other obligations …. gotta do this, do that … my life is planned … and there’s nothing I can do about it.”

True, but it’s all in how you look at it.  We all have obligations. We all have things we feel we have to do, but that is the result of the choices we made. We tend to forget that we always have the power to choose whatever it is we want to do with our life. And honoring those obligations, no matter how frustrated or stressed it can make us, well, that just makes us good people.

So, today, if you find yourself in a place you don’t to be, or you’re wishing “the day would just hurry up and get over, already,” take a few moments and appreciate where you are.

And have a happy Thursday. 🙂

The trouble is, you think you have time.

In My Father’s Footsteps

(Please visit my new blog … and thanks!)

Scrolling

I opened my WordPress tab this morning, like I do most days.  Colorful photos caught my eye, along with headings for blogs written by friends I have come to know through their artistic creations.

Most days I go straight to my writing tasks, but today I paused to admire the handiwork … and I started scrolling.

I found poetry blogs, and how-to blogs, and inspirational blogs. I found blogs about the Theology of Carrots ( “We hide our best underground”), Carl Jung’s view of the human psyche (“Very often do we see our own faults in others”), and Peaceful Shit (“Just when I thought things were getting good; Good shit never lasts long.”).

This last one made me chuckle, mostly because the author speaks the truth; “good shit never lasts long.”

But if we didn’t have bad shit, we wouldn’t appreciate the good shit. And, as everyone knows, shit happens. And the world goes round and round …..

And I’m scrolling ….

“Validation is for Parking.” This is an interesting insight.

“Frankly, the validity others provide for us has nothing to do with us. It has all to do with how THEY see themselves and their world.”

I agree with the author. We all have our realities, our own perceptions, about life and the world, which we created based on who we are, what we believe, and our experiences up to this point. No one seems the world in exactly the same way.

The author goes on to say that we need to validate ourselves instead of looking for others to do it for us.

“… we need to learn how to embrace ourselves, learn how to live our lives without asking for another’s permission or acceptance. It is our life. Our journey. ”

And I’m scrolling ….

I see my Blog #2, In My Father’s Footsteps, Chapters 31 and 32, with the familiar family photos I use to decorate my father’s stories. I impulsively click on Chapter 32, though the words are firmly planted in my mind. My motives are purely honorable; research, I tell myself. And Validation.

“My dad was my hero. I’m sure most little girls see their fathers that way. And though my relationship with my dad hasn’t always been the best, he was there when I needed him most, and for that, I am very grateful.”

A few years ago, I found a box filled with typed pages, memories about his life, which he transformed into fun and entertaining stories about his childhood, his time in the Navy, being the oldest boy in a Catholic family, and what he thought about life in general.

I changed it up a bit in Chapter 31, letting my mother take the reins to tell the story of how she and my dad met.  (Despite everything that was against them, they managed to hang on to each other for nearly 50  years.)

They were married Oct. 24, 1959. They caused quite a scandal back then. They had both been married before and divorce wasn’t as accepted as it is today. (And besides, my father was Catholic; definitely a no-no for that denomination). Mom had three kids from her previous marriage. Dad had two, but only Tim came to live with them. And after they were married, they had five more.

If that wasn’t enough, they survived a horrific experience when Dad nearly died in a car accident in 1967. And once the older kids became teenagers, they had to deal with drugs, unplanned pregnancies, and the draft (It was the ’60s, after all).

A few years later, they had to go through it all again with the second batch of kids. By this time, they were either too tired to care, or figured that life was too short to get too stressed about it and learned to relax a little.

“’Story of our lives…’ she tells me.  And she is not wrong.”

And I’m scrolling ….

tributecr.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winds of Change

Purpose is life in motion. If you can figure out what your purpose is, the reason you get up in the morning, you pretty much have it made.

After all, being grateful for where you are, along with having peace of mind, are two key components of living a happy life.

It’s taken me a long time to figure this out, but I’m still learning. I find myself constantly adjusting to the Winds of Change, whose fickle existence teases me with her bipolar whims.

I am accepting, eventually, because I know there are many things that I can’t control, no matter how hard I try.

There are times when I just want to break down and scream at the top of my lungs, “Why is this happening to me?”

I already know, but there is something about letting everything go, even if it has to be ripped from my hands, that makes me go a little crazy. And it feels good.

Life is constantly in motion. Change is inevitable, and the Winds of Change doesn’t discriminate.  Go with the flow, but go a little crazy sometimes. It is how we keep our sanity.

tributecr.com

 

 

It all sounds good in theory

I spent the past two weeks preparing for a Halloween party for my grandchildren. It was going to be our first “real” holiday party, and I wanted it to be special.  I threw parties for my kids all the time when they were little. But this time was different. This time I had the internet to help, and I turned to Facebook and Pinterest for ideas about how I could make this the best Halloween party ever.table2

I printed off recipes and photos of all the cool things I wanted to do. I bought all the necessary ingredients and props, and I worked diligently to make sure it went off without a hitch.

But as we wanna-be perfectionists already know, it all sounds good in theory.

I imagined that everything would go as planned; the food would be perfect, the decorations, the music, and the activities would run themselves. But with 6 energetic children ranging from 5-11 years old running around, each going their own way, it was chaos.spider-cookies

After years of trying to throw the perfect party, I should have know better. And even with my party planner in hand, there were still a few mishaps. (For those who do party planning for a living, I salute you!)

The cake balls turned to mush, because I added too much frosting (and you can’t “Undo” something like that.) The spiders on the cookies didn’t get their legs piped on, because I ran out of time. And the “Pop the Pumpkin” game was scrubbed because I couldn’t get it stuck to the wall.(It was difficult to make,anyway.) And I forgot all about “Stick the Spider on the Web” game until after the party was over.popcorn

The banana ghosts and apple mouths were okay, but didn’t turn out like the picture. I scurried to get the mummy hotdogs out of the oven and get the meat eyeballs in before the guests started to arrive. Lack of time became an issue, and I found myself getting stressed out.

Next year I will take an entire day to get ready, instead of just a few hours.

So why was this party important to me? For the same reason I had a lot of parties for my kids when they were little. Kids aren’t little for very long, but these memories will last a lifetime.

I still hear from my adult children, “Remember when …?” And the smiles and laughter that follow tells me I did a good thing.

And when Lori laughed and asked me if I had ever seen the pictures of “Pinterest Fails,” I smiled, because I knew it was true. You have to be able to laugh at yourself. Otherwise, it’s no fun.

The ruined cake pops and the other mishaps didn’t matter. No one ever knew I had forgotten a few things and there was plenty to eat and everyone had a lot of fun.

I created a good memory for my grandchildren. They know I’m not perfect but love me anyway. I can’t ask for much more than that.

“Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused.”

300

Earlier this year, I celebrated the milestone of being a blogger for 6 years. But that is small compared to reaching 300 posts. It is for me, anyway.

Yes, this is my 300 post, but that doesn’t count the 20 or so drafts I should have deleted, but decided not to, for whatever reason. Many are the result of rants I went on, after which, coming to my senses, decided against posting. I don’t need to spread all that negativity. I’m a lover, not a fighter.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t stand up for what I believe in. I’m just not as naive as I once was.

I have learned a lot since publishing my first post, “Note to Self,” in 2010.  For example, I can’t control how people feel about me. I used to bend over backwards for people who didn’t respect me, trying to gain their favor. When it didn’t work, I thought there was something wrong with me.

It took me a while to figure out that that’s just who they are. It’s nothing personal; they treat everyone that way. And with all the different personalities in the world trying to work and live together, people are not going to agree on everything, no matter what you do.

Oh yes … you can do everything to accommodate them, but that only reinforces what you already think about yourself; that you are less than they are, and that’s just not true.

We all start out the same way. Our personalities, our environments, our family, friends, and experiences shape us into who we become. And if our personalities are such that we look outside ourselves for approval, well, we’re kind of screwed. Because no one tells us this. We may go years trying to please others to gain acceptance, when in reality,  there’s just no pleasing them.

Ricky Nelson knew this when he sang it in his 1972 hit, ‘Garden Party.’ “You see, you can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.”

You can’t make everyone happy. You just can’t. You will be disappointed if you try. All you can do is be true to yourself and live your life the way that makes you feel good about yourself.

We have to accept who we are, all the good parts and bad parts, and either change the things we don’t like about ourselves, or learn to manage them.

And if you make a mistake, learn from it, even if it takes you a few times. It’s ok. It’s called being human.

Another thing I have learned, is that we are capable of so much more than we know. Once we wake up to this fact, once we open our minds and challenge our beliefs and look at what is possible, nothing is impossible! As Audrey Hepburn once said, “Nothing is impossible; even the word itself says, ‘I’m Possible!'”

In the book, “Conversation with Gods,” by Neale Donald Walsch, the Almighty Him/Herself states that life is energy in motion. I take this to mean that life is all about creating. And we can create our lives to be whatever we want it to be.

It really is that simple.

What Kenny Rogers Taught Me About Life

In 1978, Jimmy Carter was president; Jim Jones led 500 people in a mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana, there were 4.302 billion on the planet,  unemployment was at 6.1%, and the average income was $15,064.

It was also the year I learned life from two of my closest friends … and Kenny Rogers.

The lessons I learned about life came from the song, “The Gambler,” which was about an old gambler who used his experiences to teach a young man, not only about how to play poker, but how to live life.

When you’re 15, you think of yourself as an adult, even though you have no idea what life is really all about. You think your parents are lame, and you want to do what you want to do, so you do.

One night, as my friends and I were sitting behind the neighbor’s garage drinking the beers I stole from my dad, “The Gambler ” came on the small radio we had with us.

The conversation turned to poker; how to play it, if any of us had ever played, etc.  As I listened to the words, I turned to my friend, Laura, and asked her, “Is that how you play poker?”

She got a strange look on her face and laughed. “How many of those beers have you had, Cindy?”

“What? Why? I’ve never played poker.”

“He’s not really talking about poker,” my other friend, Lori, stammered, trying her best not to bust out laughing.

Laura took another drink of beer and sat back against the garage. “He’s talking about life.”

“How is playing poker like life?” I forced down another drink of the warm beer.

Laura glanced and Lori, and then at me. She smiled slyly. “I guess if you don’t know, I can’t tell you,” she teased.

My friends laughed hysterically, but I honestly couldn’t understand what was so funny. They must have drank their beers too fast, I thought, and switched the topic to boys.

I still think about the night from time to time, and the memory is triggered every time I hear “The Gambler.” Though I don’t play a lot of poker, the song reminds me to live my life the same way I play poker; cautious, but still take risks; don’t hang on to those things that aren’t good for you; and don’t get cocky when you’re winning.

“On a warm summer’s eve
On a train bound for nowhere
I met up with the gambler
We were both too tired to sleep
So we took turns a-starin’
Out the window at the darkness
The boredom overtook us,
And he began to speak

He said, “Son, I’ve made a life
Out of readin’ people’s faces
Knowin’ what the cards were
By the way they held their eyes
So if you don’t mind me sayin’
I can see you’re out of aces
For a taste of your whiskey
I’ll give you some advice”

So I handed him my bottle
And he drank down my last swallow
Then he bummed a cigarette
And asked me for a light
And the night got deathly quiet
And his face lost all expression
He said, “If you’re gonna play the game, boy
You gotta learn to play it right

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for counting
When the dealin’s done

Every gambler knows
That the secret to survivin’
Is knowin’ what to throw away
And knowin’ what to keep
‘Cause every hand’s a winner
And every hand’s a loser
And the best that you can hope for is to die
In your sleep

And when he finished speakin’
He turned back toward the window
Crushed out his cigarette
And faded off to sleep
And somewhere in the darkness
The gambler he broke even
But in his final words
I found an ace that I could keep.”

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