Rotary Installation Speech

I have a brother who traveled the path to heaven over 25 years ago.  While he blessed us with his presence in this existence he did so as a very gifted and talented young artist among other great traits that he possessed.

I remember, as a boy, Jimmy would set up his canvas and the tools of his talent in the basement of our home.  I would often watch the canvas transform from a blank slate, to lightly sketched shapes, to a smattering of paints and colors, to a masterful Monet-like scenery, Van Goh-like landscape or Rembrandt-like portrait and just marvel at its spectacle.  When finally it reached what I was sure was the point of completion, with envious pride, I would tell Jimmy just how wonderful I thought his creation was.  Jimmy would just stare at his art and, with annoyance at his stupid, younger brother, simply state, “It isn’t done.  This isn’t nearly finished.”  And he would mix some more colors, dip some more brushes and continue to paint.

Meanwhile, I would go back outside and play tackle the man with the ball with my friends, blow up the heads off my sister’s dolls with M-80s, do belly-flops in mud puddles and, inevitably, end up being chased by an angry, pancake-turner yielding mother determined not to spare the rod.  I would eventually, once again, seek the sanctity of our basement, which somehow seemed to serve as a miraculous safety zone from the wrath of angry parents.

I would peer over the shoulder of my brother and be amazed to discover that the painting I thought, just hours before, was as good of a painting as a painting could be, was, indeed, somehow, better.  I could not always tell exactly what he did, but the shapes would appear sharper, or the sky would have somehow come alive, or the flowers would have miraculously bloomed, or a sparkle would shine in the subject’s eye.  What I thought was perfection in the morning, was improved by the time the sun had set.  And, I would, once again, beam with pride for my brother and praise him with as much glory as a muddy, bloody, dirty, stinking, trouble maker of a young boy could.  And, Jimmy, once again, would look unsatisfied and announce, “It’s not done.”

Six years ago, Ralph Flick invited me to my first Midday Rotary meeting.  I was greeted at the front door by a sharply dressed and smiling Lorraine Green, my $14 was graciously accepted by a helpful Jean Smith and I immediately recognized the face of Scott Bush as a fellow Adventure Guides father in the group with our sons.  Laura stood behind the President’s podium dancing a Happy Dance and I marveled at the beauty of this picture and I thought what a wonderfully complete masterpiece this Rotary Club was.  But, I soon found out, it was not done.

Ralph Flick then improved upon the art by organizing the objects in the painting and explaining the intricacies of Rotary in a way that even I could understand; Scott Bush added a splash of spontaneity, humor and fun that brightened the images upon the canvas while losing a lot of weight in the process; Joe Urvina transitioned from a reluctant, nervous speaker to a confident and accomplished leader while teaching us more about ourselves through two truths and a lie, and the painting got better.  Mary Gorman added highlights of gratitude mixed with tears of happiness and empathy and the masterpiece continued to be improved.  And, Howard, throughout this past year, added all that stuff and things like that to whip us into shape and help us appreciate why it is good to do business with a Rotarian and the art got better, yet.

Now, it is my turn, and all I can do is marvel at the beauty of what I see.  Deep down inside I am proud of the masterpiece my brothers and sisters crafted right in front of my eyes and stand in awe of their talent, envious of their creativity.  I, however, am not an artist – but, I can certainly appreciate art and celebrate in its beauty.

So, I invite you to join me this year, in what I wish to make a Year of Celebration.  I think we, as a club, have earned the right to sit back a little bit, celebrate all that we have accomplished and marvel in this masterpiece we call Midday Rotary.  We should bask in the joy of the friendships we have forged; celebrate the good we have achieved; and be proud of the journey we have traveled together as a family of Rotarians; albeit, we may be a dysfunctional family, but we are family nonetheless.

Join me this year as we splash through mud puddles, somersault down hills of soft grass, and create mischief along the way, only to return each week to Anthony’s basement and marvel at the beauty of this masterpiece, celebrating the ever-improving art on what not so long ago was a blank canvas.

I will leave it up to those Presidents who follow behind me to once again improve upon the artistry of our club, but, for my year, I want to take the time to just … Celebrate, Celebrate, dance to the music.

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The End is Near

Inflicted damages are extremely severe
Perpetrated by humanity’s fears
Angel’s trumpets you clearly can hear
An apocalyptical ending is certainly near

Man is responsible for his very own end
To think otherwise we can only pretend
Extreme hatred we have allowed to descend
Actions and inactions we cannot defend

This gift of life, for granted we took
Idol worshiping a man-written book
Seeing evil in the eyes of the different people we look
Believing religion will get us off the hook

Creating boundaries of country and creed
Implanting the intolerance seed
Being watered with maniacal greed
The only ingredients for destruction we need

Inflicted damages are extremely severe
There is no doubt that our ending is near

Before the Alarm Goes Off

Two hours before the alarm goes off
I am wide awake in bed
I wasn’t able to sleep last night
Thinking about the things you said
I guess I never really gave much thought
To how my actions might be read
So, two hours before the alarm goes off
I lay wide awake in bed

Some of the things you said, I know
Were spoken truthfully
Some of the things I must confess
Were a complete surprise to me
I know that I am guilty of
Lacking sensitivity
But, by now you ought to know
Emotions are not worn on my sleeve

One hour before the alarm goes off
I toss and turn some more
To do better, to myself
Is a promise that I swore
I never meant to hurt you like
You say I hurt you once before
One hour before the alarm goes off
And I toss and turn some more

I’m not good at reading between the lines
So, just tell me what’s on your mind
If there are hidden messages inside your words
They are unlikely for me to find
I’m not good at solving riddles
Especially the emotional kind
So, if there is something you need me to know
Please tell me what’s on your mind

One minute before the alarm goes off
I’m going to be tired all day
Please, take that under consideration
When you hear the things I’ve got to say
The last thing that I want to occur
Is for you to walk away
One minute before the alarm goes off
I’m going to be tired all day

The Onset

When you have seen it once before,
In the eyes of a relative you adored,
You recognize your own ship wreck on its way;
The sanity you once embraced,
Now wears a stranger’s face,
You fear the antithesis has moved in the bridge to stay.

You hear the inside voices shout,
As your ship gets tossed about,
Tranquility is a long forgotten sound;
The lighthouse of reason on the shore,
Lies on the horizon nevermore,
Persistent waves from the storm have knocked you down.

The crew have all abandoned ship,
Rescue boats stay anchored in the slip,
Medication just adds more fog to your mind;
Navigational tools provide no aide,
As you feel your memories fade,
No port of safe harbor can you find.

When you have seen it once before,
In the eyes of a relative you adored,
You hope that you don’t also pass it on;
When strangers look into your eye,
And you see that stranger cry,
You wonder if they were a stranger all along.

Scared to the Core

I don’t mean to play the cynic
But, it seems that we’ve stepped in it
No matter how you spin it
He’s not cool

When engaged in a debate
He spews policies of hate
He does not hesitate
To play the fool

What scares me to the core
Makes my jaw drop to the floor
The numbers of people who vote for
Him are not just a few

The possibility exists
If this insanity persists
He could be our next POTUS
Then, I’ll bid you all adieu