Thursday, May 20, 2010

I am Thankful for an Impossible Challenge

Last Friday I accepted a challenge, an impossible challenge. I knew I would fail but I thought the journey into defeat would be worth the effort. My sister Shirley asked when I was going to embarrass Mike, her husband, on my blog. He piped in, “He won’t embarrass me. I can’t be embarrassed, and he knows it.”

“I’ll take that as a challenge,” I responded. But I knew even then he was right. It sounds better to say he was right than to admit I was wrong. Then again, I wasn’t wrong because I knew I would fail. If you are a Johns it is much better to be a failure than to be wrong. Simple deductive reasoning proves Mike’s superiority. Premise 1 -- a Johns is never wrong. Premise 2 -- a Johns married Mike. Therefore, Mike is right even when he is wrong. Thus, we have Mike’s first endearing quality. By mere association he must be exceptional; A Johns chose to marry him and a Johns is never wrong.

Let me describe him. Michael Landers is of average height and slim build. He has thinning, salt and pepper hair. He has the appearance of being in good physical condition; he does workout faithfully. He has two Master’s degrees, one in special education and the other in educational administration. He also has achieved the Educational Specialist degree which is roughly equivalent to a doctorate in education. He has been an elementary school teacher, both public and private, for about thirty years. He spent a few of those years in administration as an assistant principal and principal. Out of those experiences he became a widely used consultant on crises management.

But who is Mike Landers, really? Should you be blessed to meet him your first impression would be of his gregarious personality. The proverbial, “he never met a stranger” is simply inadequate to describe him. Mike approaches everybody as if they were his hometown next door neighbor. He doesn’t introduce himself to anyone; he jumps into the middle of a conversation that didn’t exist before he got there. It’s really uncanny; out of nowhere he is dialoging with this total stranger about something that is thoroughly trivial but obviously meaningful. Then, poof, like a humming bird he darts off to the next long lost friend.

The second thing you would notice about Mike is that he is hyperactive. In an earlier day they would have called it fidgety or restless. Now we have this whole class of people called psychologists who make lots of money making up big descriptive terms and then labeling people with them. Mike is in a brand new category, ADHHD. The HH is for Hyper Hyperactive.

We Johns like to sit and talk. We can stay in the same room for hours with very little movement. Think, cows chewing their cud. When Mike first came into the family we played a guessing game, “How long will it take Mike to sit in every seat in the room?” When anyone got up for a bathroom break or to get a snack, Mike immediately moved to their seat. We could manipulate the outcome by the timing of our own movements. It was like watching a tennis ball in slow motion. However, Cheryl was also hyper and served as the wild card of every session. A variation of the game was “How many times will Mike go in and out of the room before anyone else exits or enters.”

Mike’s hyperactivity is not just entertaining, it also serves utilitarian purposes. He is always the first to volunteer for errands. Need someone to get a gallon of milk; Mike will go for it and be happy about it. It is as if our inactivity saps all of his energy and a short trip to reconnect with a long-lost buddy is fuel for his soul.

Seriously, Mike is a gift to my life. He challenges me to be more outgoing and to be more ready to help. He is generous and thoughtful. He is apparently an excellent teacher – whenever we go out to eat near his house some former student approaches to say high and thank him. His friends cannot stop talking about how wonderful he is. Perhaps his greatest gift to me is that he is engaging and fun. It is simply good to be with him. He is my brother and I would trust him with my life.

In closing, I know I haven’t embarrassed him. He wouldn’t sit still long enough to read this.

Cleveland, Tennessee
May 20, 2010

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Such an accurate description of all of us. I laughed until tears ran. Unfortunately, he thought of it as praise. You will have to work hard to embarrass him.