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The Long Way Home

If there is anything more annoying than a vocal and unceasing proponent of the power of positive thinking it would have to be the scowling, snarling and often sniveling nega­tive nellies always finding fault with some­thing that may have happened to them or that they’re convinced will happen to them.

The negative nellies seem like they want none of us to be having a good time. On the other hand, almost everyone else wants us to have fun, or tell them that we had fun. These are the people who get to me sometimes.

“Did you have fun at (wherever you were)?”

“Are you having fun?”

“Are you doing something fun (this week­end or wherever you’re going)?”

Fun, along with journey and adventure, are overused words, don’t you think?

Wanna be less annoying? Ask me what I did if you will, but don’t ask if I did anything fun. I’m an old man. Fun for me is making it to bedtime without additional disease or injury. And laughing at the absurdity in the world.

A recent news story said that a man found dead in a freezer at his Minnesota home was believed to have entered it to evade law en­forcement, which apparently was pursuing him with less than rigorous vigor. I had fun reading that little tale of unexpected conse­quences and sharing it with others who are like minded–jaded and a bit dark.

I don’t mean to make it sound like I disagree with the power of positive thinking. Life toss­es us some pretty interesting curve balls, and the right type of positive thinking can help us get a bat on those balls once in a while. Not a happy positive attitude that ignores the reali­ties, the rose-colored glasses type, but just the right mental attitude that acknowledges reali­ty and makes the best effort to swing for the fences.

In the golfing years of my life I read an aw­ful lot about the game, the physical geome­tries of the swing, and the mental attitude to win, and if not win, to have FUN.

One lesson that has stood me in good stead, not only on the golf course but in all aspects of life, is that the mind (or brain if you pre­fer) has a devil of a time discerning between positive and negative actions.

On the golf course, addressing the ball, most people tend to think about the hazards facing them. They focus on where they don’t want the ball to go.

An old timer I played golf with had sage advice. “My life got better when I started to think that there is no water on the course, just tall grass.” After a pregnant pause, he added, “I haven’t lost a ball in water since. But I lose a lot of them in the tall grass.”

The mind says, “Don’t hit it in the water.” “Don’t hit it into the trees.” “Don’t hit it into the tall grass”

The mind focuses on the last noun it hears, only. This may or may not be a scientifically proven fact, but it made sense somehow.

To have more “fun” golfing, and in life, fo­cus positively on where you want to go in­stead of where you don’t want to go. Find a patch on the fairway (where you want the ball to land) and make your mind say, “Hit it on that patch of fairway” and ignore the bad stuff.

A good lesson for a satisfying life, yes?

Steve Fernlund
Steve Fernlund
Typically these “about me” pages include a list of academic achievements (I have none) and positions held (I have had many, but who really cares about those?) So, in the words of the late Admiral James Stockwell, “Who am I? Why am I here?” I’m well into my seventh decade on this blue planet we call home. I’m a pretty successful husband, father, and grandfather, at least in my humble opinion. My progeny may disagree. We have four children and five grandchildren. I spent most of my professional life in the freight business. At the tender age of 40, early retirement beckoned and we moved to Grand Marais. A year after we got here, we bought and operated the Cook County News Herald, a weekly newspaper in Grand Marais. A sharp learning curve for a dumb freight broker to become a newspaper editor and publisher. By 1999 the News Herald was an acquisition target for a rapidly consolidating media market. We sold our businesses and “retired” again, buying a winter retreat in Nevada. In the fall of 2016, we returned to Grand Marais and bought a house from old friends of ours on the ridge overlooking Lake Superior. They were able to move closer to family and their Mexico winter home. And we came home to what we say is our last house. I’m a strong believer in the value of local newspapers--both online and those you can wrap a fish in. I write a weekly column and a couple of feature stories for the Northshore Journal. I’m most interested in writing about the everyday lives of local people and reporting on issues of importance to them.
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