Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Take Some Time To Smell the Sun Block

When my kids were little we use to go on some pretty fun road trips. We still do, but the ones when they were smaller were sometimes more memorable (probably because we didn’t drink adult beverages so we were able to remember it all).

There’s one trip in particular that my kids and my wife won’t let live me down. It went something like this.

We were hankering for the beach, so we loaded up the van and took off for sunny Galveston, Texas.
Unfortunately, on the day we were there, “sunny” Galveston gave way to “cloudy and overcast with a slight chance of rain” Galveston. We decided to not let a little cloudy weather get in the way of a good time on the beach, so we put on our Speedos and headed for the sandy Gulf shore.

Before we were allowed to leave the hotel room, the kids had to goop on a pretty thick coat of 900 SPF sun block. After the block made them good and white to keep them from getting good and red, my wife turned to me and asked if I wanted to put on some sun block.

“No,” I said. “I think it’s cloudy enough that I won’t need any sun block.”

You see, in my belief system, the sun had to actually be shining to cause any kind of sunburn issues. My wife shook her head at me and my belief system and we headed out.

The day was gorgeous. The clouds kept the temperatures bearable but the sand and surf warmed our toes. We were having so much fun that time just sort of slipped away like it will do when your favorite song is on the radio or you forgot to study for a math test. Before long it was getting dark and we were getting hungry.

Once we got back to the room it was time to wash up and get ready.

“Honey,” I said.

“Yes,” she replied.
“Do you think I might have gotten a little sun?” I asked, as I lifted up my shirt.

The next noise I heard was what I can only describe as a collective gasp from my whole family.

“You are the same color as your Speedo,” my wife said.

Now folks, I’m going to give you three guesses on what color of Speedo I was wearing and the first two don’t count.
That was the day my belief system changed on the whole power of the sun thing. Just in case you don’t know, you can still get a sunburn on a cloudy day. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I guess I really wasn’t as red as I was milky white from the giant blister that went from right above my Speedo to just below my hairline along my back side. I was one giant, walking second-degree burn.

My wife turned me over and lathered me up pretty good with that green stuff that comes in the bottle and that’s colder than a can of beer. Each time she would put a big dollop on my back, I almost passed out from the shock of the cold temperature.

I was lucky that day, my friends. I didn’t die, but there were times that night I wished I would have. There was not enough adult beverages in the city of Galveston to help me forget the pain of that burn.
My kids and my wife — especially my wife — won’t let me forget it.

But that’s not where the memories stop.
Sam Houston

On the way back up I-45, I promised the kids they would get to see the giant statue of Sam Houston that sits right on the Interstate in Huntsville, Texas. They were excited because they had just recently learned how Sam Houston led the Texas army during the Texas fight for independence and his valiant efforts against Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto. He later became the president of the Republic of Texas and today has a city named in his honor (Samville, pop. 3,853).

They were all excited to see the giant white statue of Houston, standing with his cane — probably the same one he beat up a U.S. Congressman with in 1832. As we got closer, I told my wife to get the camera ready.

Then we did it.

“Kids there’s Sam Houston,” I said, as I drove by at 85 mph.

“I thought we were gonna stop?” my wife asked.

“No,” I replied. “I just wanted you guys to see it.”

We still have that blurry photo of a giant white “thing” in front of a bunch of blurry green “things” to remember our trip.

I will never live it down.

But it was those times that we remember most. We had a blast. In time, I recovered from my second-degree burns and my son actually let his wife stop and take a picture of old Sam Houston (my daughter still hasn’t seen the statue).

I’ve been talking in recent columns about how I found my life again after years of wondering in disappointment. One of the things I learned during that transformation was to take time out and live in the moment.

That weekend we spent in Galveston was living in the moment. I wasn’t worried about what happened the day before or what would happen the day after — obviously or I would have put on some sun block.

There were times when it was really easy for me to focus on the past or to worry about the future so much that I missed out on the stuff that was happening right then. People call it taking time to stop and smell the roses.

There were bad things that  happened in my past but that didn’t mean it should affect my todays. Those decisions are gone. Nothing I could do about them.

And tomorrow? I believe it was Jesus who said, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”

I found it’s always good to pause and see what is going on around me. I need to slow down and enjoy this moment, right now. I don’t want to miss anything. Those are the moments that life is made of.

As the philosopher and theologian Travis Tritt once said, “It’s a great day to be alive / I know the sun’s still shinin’ when I close my eyes / There’s some hard times in the neighborhood / But why can’t every day be just this good?”

Yes, sir, that is the truth.

It’s a great day to be alive. But whether the sun is shinin’ or not when you close your eyes, I would still put on some sun block.

To read more of Rodney Hays’ humor, follow him on Twitter and become a friend on Facebook.

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