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Readers Blog: Dobie Maxwell's 'Dented Can' Diary

A Kindness Machine

Thursday October 20th, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   I’m still making progress on all my projects, even though it’s slower than I’d like. There is always something to work on whether it’s comedy bookings or comedy class lessons or making progress on Uranus Factory Outlet. I’m chipping away at all of it, and also putting my time in to go through all my boxes that were in storage for so long. It keeps me busy.

   I’m throwing stuff out, and also finding nuggets and tidbits I’d forgotten I had. I found a stash of pictures I’d lost track of for years that included some shots of my grandfather and me that opened the floodgates of memories. There was also an article about him talking to a classroom of kids that was written in some little newspaper that I’d forgotten all about.

   Gramps was a true giver, and was always helping someone whether they appreciated his efforts or not. Most times it was not, but he did it anyway. As I get older, I see with clarity that it’s the only way to really live. Existing and living are not the same. I want to LIVE.

   I want to make a difference in people’s lives like Gramps did. It’s going on thirty years since he died, and he still lives on in me every single day I’m alive with his kindness and mentoring. Not only that, I’ve passed it on to others and they got a little taste of him too.

   Other special souls like my comedy mentor C. Cardell Willis or Marceline Roberts, the librarian at the North Milwaukee Public Library who hired me to do a ventriloquist show when I was a kid have showed me the secret ingredient of really living. It’s kindness.

   Unfortunately, none of them were famous and I doubt if any had much money - but they still found time to do something nice for someone else and one of those someones turned out to be me. If I don’t turn around and pass it on to as many others as I can, I’m a failure.

   Seeing that article put a fresh slant on everything. Nothing matters but the good I can do for as many as I can do it for. I’ve dodged an amazing number of bullets in my life and by all accounts should be dead by now. Surprisingly I’m not. Maybe the reason I’m still alive is to put this principle into practice. Or, maybe there’s no reason at all for anything in life.

   Even if there isn’t, something deep inside tells me I’m on the right track. I intend to stay the course for as long as I can. I realize how little I’ve done to make a positive difference during my bug like existence, and it shames me. I have work to do, and I intend to do it.

   I know it sounds corny, but I want to be a kindness machine. I want to make people feel good about life and themselves and laugh and smile and not choose to live the lives most of my relatives chose. They lived by example, but not in a good way. I want my life to be the polar opposite, and when I’m gone I want people to say “THAT one was different.”

   I want that now. The article about Gramps really hit home. He was different from most of his family, but he stayed the course and was true to himself. He enjoyed life and didn’t let anything stop him from his mission of generosity. In my book, that’s a life well spent.

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